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Geneva show: Opel reveals Oz-built GT concept

Red alert: Opel’s GT concept appears to be GM’s toe in the water for a potential Alfa 4C rival, but much could depend on reaction at the Geneva motor show.

Holden-crafted Opel GT concept set to fire up a push for GM global sports coupe


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28 Jan 2016

OPEL’S pocket-rocket GT sportscar concept has been revealed in images shot in Australia ahead of its public debut at March’s Geneva motor show.

The photographs – with a backgrounds featuring Melbourne’s distinctive skyline, GM Holden’s car park and even part of the old Fishermans Bend factory – indicate the little 2+2 coupe was indeed fabricated at GM Australia Design’s workshop, as GoAuto tipped last week.

Opel later confirmed that the concept had been built at Holden, home to one of just two such fabrication workshops in the GM world capable of building such a rolling prototype.

In this case, the design was done in Germany by an Opel team lead by GM vice-president of Design Europe, Mark Adams, before Holden took it to reality.

The front engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe is, according to GM, a design study, with no firm plans for production, but the company is not ruling out a production version that – should it get the green light – almost certainly would be sold across GM sister brands Opel, Vauxhall, Buick and Holden.

It would follow in the wheel-tracks of two previous Opel GTs, including the Kadett-based GT that was revealed in concept form at the 1965 Frankfurt motor show before going into production from 1968 to 1974.

Said Opel Group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann: “We are taking the next step towards even more emotion and driving pleasure with the Opel GT concept.

“The GT concept shows what Opel stands for now. We are confident, ambitious, innovative and we want win over more customers with every new car.”

One thing is for certain: the Opel GT is not the V8-powered rear-wheel-drive sportscar promised to Holden fans by GM International president Stefan Jacoby.

Similar in size and weight to Alfa Romeo’s 4C, the GT concept is powered by a diminutive 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine lifted from small Opels such as the Adam, Corsa and Astra.

The engine – making 107kW of power and 205Nm of torque – is mounted under the bonnet but behind the front axle line for optimum centre of gravity.

Like a true sports coupe, the engine drives the rear axle via a six-speed sequential gearbox and mechanical diff lock. The transmission is operated by steering wheel shift paddles.

Weighing less than 1000kg, the GT concept is said to be capable of sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in less than eight seconds and on to a top speed of 215 km/h.

A distinctive feature of the GT – one that was teased ahead of today’s full image reveal – is the red front tyres that are a nod to the 1928 Opel MotoClub 500 motorcycle that had two red tyres.

Opel says the tyres – sitting on a wheel design said to have been modelled on roller skate wheels – are among the few echoes of the past in the GT. Others include a long bonnet, absence of a boot lid and central dual exhaust, all of which hark back to the original GT.

Mr Adams said the GT concept was “dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations” – an Opel tradition that it intends to continue.

“Back in 1965, Opel developed the Experimental GT, a thoroughly modern vehicle that also boasted a pure sculptural shape. It’s certainly difficult to reinvent an icon but just as the Experimental GT was avant-garde back then, so too is this GT Concept today – absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising.

“This coupé impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy – ‘Sculptural Artistry meets German precision’.”

The driver and front passenger gain access to the cabin by pressing a touchpad in a red signature line in the roof. There are no handles on the unique electric-operated doors that move into the front wheel space behind the wheel when opening, thus creating a bigger opening.

The seamless look continues with a smooth transition from the integrated glass to the painted surfaces. How this would work in production remains to be seen.

Inside, the cabin is said to be sufficiently spacious for tall occupants, in the front seats at least.

The red theme is carried into the cabin, with bright red sports seats and red rings around the twin instrument dials.

Further details of the Opel GT will be revealed at the Geneva show on March 3.

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