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Vauxhall & Opel return to the GT

by • February 29, 2016 • FeatureComments (0)15597

Vauxhall and Opel will reveal their vision of the future sports car with the GT Concept at this year’s Geneva International Motorshow. Purebred, pared down, yet unashamedly avant-garde, the GT Concept is even shorn of door handles and door mirrors, its breathtaking form clothing a classic front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis that will look to appeal to driving enthusiasts.

The GT Concept is forward-thinking, encapsulating British designer Mark Adams’ philosophy of ‘Sculptural Artistry meets Technical Precision’, its name mirrors that of the 1964 GT Concept, the first styling model to be produced by the nascent Vauxhall Design & Engineering Centre in Luton which opened the same year.

However importantly, it pays homage to two significant motor show cars: the 1966 Vauxhall XVR and the 1965 Opel Experimental GT, the first true concept vehicles to appear from the design houses of a European manufacturer. The 2016 GT Concept is also a logical step on from the innovative and beautiful Monza concept from 2013.

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‘We created the GT Concept to capture the bold, emotional spirit of both the Vauxhall and Opel brands,’ said Mark Adams, Vice President, Design Europe. ‘It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue. In the mid-Sixties, Vauxhall and Opel created their own interpretations of a light-weight sports car – the XVR and the Experimental GT – both of which were thoroughly modern with dynamic sculptural forms. It’s certainly difficult to reinvent iconic concepts like these, but just as each was avant-garde back then, so too is this GT Concept today – absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising. This coupe impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy.’

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A key innovation of the GT Concept is its large doors with integrated side windows that show a seamless transition from glass to painted surfaces. Both driver and front passenger gain access to the spacious interior after pressing a touchpad for the electric doors that is integrated in the red signature line of the roof. The doors open into the front arches, using a space-saving and patented mounting that allows a large opening angle for tight parking spaces in urban areas. Two cameras mounted behind the wheel arches offer enhanced visibility, especially in city driving. They transmit their images to two monitors on the left- and right-hand side of the cabin, rendering external mirrors obsolete. The windscreen flows into a glass panorama roof, affording occupants a similar experience to that of a targa-topped car.

Opel and Vauxhall are following up their reveal of the GT Concept’s exterior with a look at the coupe’s futuristic cabin. There’re no buttons inside this advanced sportscar. Instead, drivers can control functions on a central touchpad or speak to an artificial intelligence, which is reminiscent of KITT. The automaker claims the system would even learn an owner’s habits over time.

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The two-seat interior is simple and allows for lots of natural light. The windshield rises over the occupants to the roof to create and unbroken view out of the coupe. The instrument panel also acts as a structural part of the chassis to support the skeletal A-pillars.

The instruments are similarly functional but minimalist. The pods that flank the steering wheel are rearview monitors to replace traditional mirrors. In front of the driver, the left display always shows the vehicle’s speed and revs, but the one on the right can adapt to show the navigation map, fuel consumption, or g-force figures.

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The distinctive red tires – mounted on rims with a ‘roller-skate’ design – are a reference to an iconic Opel motorbike from the 1920s – the Motoclub 500 – which sported red-coloured rubber. And while the long bonnet, central dual exhausts and lack of a boot-lid are all shared with both the Vauxhall XVR and Opel Experimental GT, today’s GT Concept is unashamedly forward-thinking, with no retro references.

While it looks sporty, the GT concept won’t exactly be a speed demon. It’s packed with a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, making 143 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, and the triple sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. However, the GT is fairly light, weighing around 2,205 pounds. Opel and Vauxhall claim the coupe could theoretically accelerate to 62 miles per hour in less than eight seconds and reach a 134-mph top speed.

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