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Geneva show: Opel outs next Zafira

Zafira: Next-gen "lounge-on-wheels luxury" family-sized Opel is set for its public debut at Geneva.

Next Zafira emerges as Opel confirms new Astra convertible, both likely for Oz

Opel logo28 Feb 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

OPEL has unveiled its next-generation Zafira and confirmed it will produce a successor for the Astra convertible, both of which are likely to join the German General Motors brand’s model range that goes on sale here next year.

GM Holden has confirmed it will launch Opel as an upmarket rival for Volkswagen in 2012 with at least three core models – the light-sized Corsa, Astra small-car and mid-size Insignia – but the all-new Zafira people-mover and Astra convertible are odds-on to eventually join the Euro GM brand’s initial B, C and D-segment offerings here.

Emerging as the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Concept ahead of its official public debut at the Geneva motor show on March 1, the thinly disguised new-generation Zafira seven-seater features a new ‘Flex7’ seating concept wrapped in a rakish exterior design that Opel says is reminiscent of a high-speed train.

Opel’s newest people-mover is claimed to combine “lounge-on-wheels luxury” with the seven-seat flexibility it has offered in Europe for the past 12 years – and in Australia between 2001 and 2006.

52 center imageThe Zafira Tourer concept is headlined by a panoramic windscreen that melds with a large glass roof which extends to the rear of the car to bathe all three rows of seats in ambient light.

With two rows in place, Opel says the Zafira can be transformed in to a four-seater with limousine levels of interior space a the push of a button, thanks to a new folding mechanism that stows the middle section of the second row, reveals armrests for the two rear outboard occupants and allows those seats to slide backwards and towards each other.

Less likely to reach production is a second pane of high-tech composite material edge-lit by LEDs and tiny metallic particles embedded in the cabin’s upper sections to reflect light and give off a warm glow that can be varied in different shades of yellow.

The Zafira concept also features power-operated three-piece curved and tiltable head restraints can swivel 90 degrees to horizontal, a large touch-screen display in the centre console, a large centre stack compartment, caramel leather seat tream and pivot-mounted tablet PCs on the front seat backs, allowing second-row passengers to surf the internet.

On the outside of the Frost Liquid Metal silver-painted Zafira concept wing-shaped LED daytime running lights, bi-Xenon headlights and foglights reside behind a single Plexiglass cover up front, while polished aluminium wing mirrors house turn indicators.

At the rear, dark LED tail-lights around to the side of the vehicle, while parallelogram-shaped dual exhaust outlets are integrated into an aluminium bar in the lower fascia. The concept rides on dark metallic grey 20-inch twin spoke polished high-gloss alloy wheels with diamond-cut aluminium surfaces and 245/40 R20 rubber.

Power comes courtesy of the same turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is found in the Astra and will be available in Holden’s Australian-made Cruze sedan next month. Fresh technologies for the concept include a fuel-saving idle-stop function and GM’s FlexRide adaptive damping system.

“We have transferred the idea of a relaxing lounge to a vehicle and created an automobile oasis, a place to relax and enjoy,” said Vauxhall’s vice-president of design Mark Adams. “The Zafira Tourer Concept’s exterior design also makes a bold statement with its sleek, flowing lines and premium feel.”

GM Europe last week also announced a successor for Opel/Vauxhall’s previous-generation Astra convertible would enter production alongside existing Astra models at its Gliwice plant in Poland in 2013, as part of the company’s €11 billion product investment plan announced about a year ago.

The all-new two-door Astra convertible will join five-door Astra hatchback, SportsTourer and GTC variants in Opel’s European range, as well as the Meriva compact people-mover, new Zafira and GM Europe’s Chevrolet Volt-based plug-in hybrid hatch, the Ampera.

It will join the Opel line-up the same year Opel/Vauxhall has pledged to launch an all-new compact car that it describes as a “chic and stylish small car meeting the growing demand for vehicles in line with a young and urban lifestyle”.

“The new Convertible will be a great addition to our product line-up,” said Opel/Vauxhall CEO Nick Reilly. “It follows the long-standing tradition of highly emotional and legendary Opel/Vauxhall cabrios that provided important halo effects on our brand. With its sleek and elegant design, our new convertible will fully deliver on that same promise.”

Suggesting the Astra convertible replacement may not continue with that nameplate, GME said further details such as vehicle naming, pricing and equipment will be announced closer to the new cabrio’s launch date.

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