Sleek Calibra lives again

11 Jul, 2007 1:00am Chris Thorp

Vauxhall’s famous coupé starts its journey back to the road here. We have full details of what’s in store...

Calling all Calibra fans. Vauxhall’s legendary coupé is back! When it first arrived in 1990, the original Calibra was the world’s most aerodynamic production coupé – and these pictures show how an equally slippery modern-day version is set to take the nation by storm!

The sloping roofline is the new model’s most striking feature. So important is the rakish shape that, when viewed from the side, it is clear that Vauxhall is aiming to create a car that will slice through the air – just like the original Calibra.

Taking much of its design from Vauxhall’s GTC Concept – produced to highlight the sweeping lines that would form the next-generation Vectra – the new Calibra aims to prove just how sporty the family-
car-sized coupé could look. When revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March – as seen in Issue 951 – it was one of the stars of the event.

Our pictures reveal how easily the concept’s shape could be converted for the showroom. The long front end and deep airdam give the 21st century car a look that’s just as distinctive as its top-selling predecessor.

And drivers shouldn’t have to wait too long. When the replacement for the Vectra goes on sale in the UK late next summer, it will initially be available in four and five-door guises, and provide the perfect basis for the new coupé. Keen to stress that the new family car will be a genuinely desirable alternative to the likes of Ford’s new Mondeo, design quality has been a priority throughout development.

This styling will enable a coupé variant to be added easily, by simply fitting larger doors and without too many major structural alterations.

Beyond the estate variant, due in 2009, plans for the new family car range are still top-secret, but the success of the GTC Concept sent a clear message to Vauxhall bosses.

A spokesman for the firm told us: “The response to the GTC Concept at Geneva was incredibly positive and showed how well such a car could be received.” And he went on to explain where a coupé could lie in the firm’s plans. “As with all car man-ufacturers, we will always keep our options open and keep a close eye on what the market demands.” With the Monaro now replaced by the four-door VXR8, there is certainly a gap in the line-up for a coupé.

Bringing back the Calibra name would resurrect one of Vauxhall’s most popular Nineties badges – but it won’t sit in showrooms alongside a Vectra. The family car is set to take such a significant step forward that it will get an all-new name. Insignia is a contender, but several other potential tags are still in the running. Whatever it’s called, the new family car will have a range of engines perfectly suited to a Calibra.

With the emphasis on efficiency, petrol models will get three versions of the 1.6-litre turbo from the Corsa VXR, with a choice of 148bhp, 178bhp or 189bhp. Vauxhall’s variable-valve-timing 1.8-litre unit will also be available, as will the flagship 2.8-litre V6.

The diesel line-up will include a new entry-level engine along with
a high-performance twin-turbo unit. Green ecoFLEX variants will also feature to help Vauxhall’s coupé comply with future emissions regulations.

Adopting all of the technology destined for the Vectra replacement, the Calibra will have equipment that would put rivals from the class above to shame. With everything from automated self-drive systems to the latest Bluetooth connectivity, the coupé will be at home on both motorways and twisty country roads.

Inside, it will adopt the dashboard of its five-door sibling, while the cabin will feature a roomy 2+2 layout.

The GTC Concept revealed Vauxhall’s Flex4 arrangement, which allows the two chairs in the back to slide up to the front seats, maximising boot space. In the Calibra, this layout would provide valuable flexibility.

Fitting in with Vauxhall’s typical model life cycles, the hot all-wheel-drive VXR version of the Vectra replacement will go on sale in 2009. Only after that is the Calibra likely to surface – when it’s sure to become an instant favourite with Vauxhall fans.
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