GM’s European brands Opel and Vauxhall may have new minimalist sports cars in the pipeline. The brands will reveal a concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show that they describe as “a template” for the sporty shape of things to come.
Sports cars have not been on the Opel and Vauxhall agenda for several years. But bolder and more individualistic styling linked to some fine powertrains certainly has. Describing the new GT Concept, Mark Adams, GM's Vice President, Design Europe, called it "dramatic, sculptural and full of innovation.” Unlike current Opel/Vauxhall products, the car has a front/mid-engine, rear wheel drive configuration.
Opel/Vauxhall is demonstrating the seriousness of the GT Concept by providing some pre-Geneva technical details. Its 3-cylinder engine, driving through a 6-speed sequential gearbox, is a 107-kW (143-hp), 205-N·m (151-lb·ft) version of the 1.0-L turbo unit currently used extensively by the company.
The car weighs “under 1000 kg,” according to Adams, and performance claims include 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in less than 8.0 s and a Vmax of 216 km/h (134 mph).
Vauxhall and Opel have marketed sports cars before, most recently the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220, based on the Lotus Series 2 Elise and built from 2000-2005. The GT Concept, however, clearly draws inspiration from the Opel GT, produced from 1968-73. The production GT resembled a scaled-down Corvette from the same period that was itself derived from GM's Mako Shark concept. The new concept's direct namesake, the 1960s GT Concept, was the first styling model to be produced by the Vauxhall Design & Engineering Center in U.K.
Adams describes the latest creation as being “absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising. This coupe impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy.”
Minimalistic includes no door mirrors or door handles. Two cameras mounted behind the GT Concept's wheel arches have been positioned to provide rear visibility. Images are displayed on two cabin screens. GM aerodynamic experts recently indicated that camera-based vision systems are getting closer to production; see http://articles.sae.org/14468/.
The windshield sweeps into a glass panoramic roof, a feature that Opel/Vauxhall has used previously to good effect.
Adams, who is British, has played a major role in giving Opel/Vauxhall its new identity and moved it away from worthy but generally conservative design.
Detailing the new GT Concept's innovations, pointed to its large, power-operated doors with integrated side windows that show “a seamless transition” from glass to painted surfaces. Driver and front passenger use touchpads to open the doors, the pads integrated in the red roof level signature line. The doors pivot into the front arches, using what Adams describes as a space-saving and patented mounting that allows a large opening angle for tight parking spaces in urban areas.
Adams’ command of vocabulary has come up with some interesting phrases, so the GT Concept has been created to meet his “Sculptural Artistry meets Technical Precision” creed.