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Opel sportscar set for Geneva

Drop-top: Opel will reveal a sporty convertible in early 2013 to add to their passenger car line-up.

Finally, Opel’s all-new convertible to make debut at 2013 Geneva motor show

31 Jul 2012

OPEL’S long-awaited convertible sportscar is set to make its debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2013 ahead of a showroom rollout in Europe later next year.

The show appearance of the image-leading drop-top – said to be an all-new model that will set the styling scene for General Motors’ European brand for years to come – was confirmed to GoAuto by Opel’s exterior chief designer Niels Loeb at this week’s Australian national media launch of the Opel brand in New South Wales.

A slide presented by Sydney-born Mr Loeb to journalists made reference to a convertible arriving late this year or early 2013, but he later said the vehicle was now expected at the Geneva show.

“We have always released our convertibles at Geneva,” he said.

The new convertible is expected to be bigger than the previous Astra Twin Top, but not as big as the mid-sized Insignia.

Although Opel has favoured folding metal roofs in its most recent convertibles, the new car is likely to switch back to a soft-top to save both weight and boot space.

The convertible was styled under the watch of current Opel design chief Mark Adams, who was this week meant to hand over to Dave Lyon and relocate to Detroit as global design director for Cadillac and Buick.

However, Mr Lyon has unexpectedly left General Motors just days before taking up the position, leaving Opel to look for a successor – and putting Mr Loeb in the frame.

“There are lots of talented guys here at Opel, but you never say never,” Mr Loeb told GoAuto, when asked whether he was a chance for the top design job.

“Obviously we need someone to replace Mark Adams, but that’s for Opel to decide.”

Opel Australia has indicated it would be interested in the convertible, slotting it into the line-up that opens next month with the Corsa light hatch, Astra hatch and wagon, Astra GTC sports hatch and Insignia mid-size sedan and wagon.

That range is expected to grow by one as early as next year with the arrival of the Mokka compact SUV.

Opel Australia managing director Bill Mott would not disclose future models destined for Australia but is clearly interested in the Mokka and the new sportscar, saying of the convertible: “If it comes to fruition, we would look at raising our hand for it.”

European reports suggest the cabrio will sit on a combination of Astra and Insignia underpinnings, and will be revealed at the Paris motor show in September – around the same time that Opel fires up its Australian sales operation.

Last year, Opel’s then vice-president of corporate and product planning, Frank Weber, told Australian journalists that the convertible would not be a simple chop-top, but a cabriolet with its own style.

He also indicated the car would be bigger than the Astra, saying: “If you do four seats, and you are spending that money for open air, I think the car should be positioned between Astra and mid-sized (models). It is not just an Astra or Insignia convertible.”

In his recently outlined growth strategy for the still-brittle German-based company, former Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke described the sportscar as a “completely new convertible”.

The convertible has been in the pipeline for at least two years, and might have been delayed by Opel’s well-publicised financial difficulties.

The other car on the Opel horizon is the Adam mini hatchback that is due to make its first public appearance at the Paris motor show in September.

Mr Mott said the main difficulty with the Adam was its “thousand and one” variations that made stock ordering from Europe difficult, with a two-month shipping pipeline.

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