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Opel GTC Concept

Thu, 08 Mar 2007 00:00:00 -0800

By Gavin Green

Motor Shows

08 March 2007 10:07

Looks good. But is it just some flight of fancy concept car with as much High Street relevance as one of Naomi Campbell’s more outrageous catwalk creations?

Not at all. Believe it or not, the next Vauxhall Vectra – replacement for one of the most nondescript cars in the world – is lurking under that sharp-edged, high-tailed body. The GTC Concept is, ‘the next chapter in Opel/Vauxhall design language,’ according to GM Europe’s boss Carl-Peter Forster. And the first car to get the treatment is the next Vectra, scheduled to go on sale in 18 months. ‘We have to be braver with our design and our engineering,’ says GM chairman Rick Wagoner. ‘When we build a competent mainstream car in Europe it typically does okay but not spectacularly. When we really try to innovate – look at the latest Astra – we usually succeed. The challenge is to make all our new models bolder and more successful.’

Mark Adams, GM Europe’s design director of exteriors, describes it ‘as more distinctive, more emotional, more powerful’. To be a bit more specific, it includes distinctive body sides with almost Ferrari like ‘blade sections’ (note those scalloped sides), a high-deck rear (good for aerodynamics and boot space), a sharper-edged shoulder line and higher body sides (also helps cabin space) and head- and tail-lamps that have BMW-like ‘ticks’ at the upper edges, ‘to make the cars more distinctive at night,’ says Adams. The nose is also highly distinctive, especially those vertical ducts under the headlamps. Wagoner says ‘they’re contentious and may not make it to production’. The cabin is just as appealing, not least its wrap-around fascia that sweeps into the front doors, and the flowing angle of the dash. Adams says that driving appeal and sportiness will be really important for all future Vauxhalls – a major departure for Vectra – and this must be reflected in the design language.

By Gavin Green