Opel Vectra saloon

4 May, 2006 1:00am

The firm's all-new model is elegantly disguised in these images. But look closer!

It might not look much at the moment, but while this appears to be the unassuming body of an old-shape Opel Vectra saloon, it's actually something very special – the firm's all-new model! How do we know? Well, look closely at our pictures of the forthcoming Ford Mondeo rival and you can clearly see extended wheelarches, wider front and rear tracks plus a taller ride height – indications that the test mule is running the next-generation car's new chassis.

The new Epsilon 2 platform will allow a wider and taller body than currently, which should mean more space inside for passengers – something that's vital in a class where machines such as VW's Passat have really upped standards. The wider stance should also mean an even more composed driving experience.

What you can't see here is the newcomer's styling. But as our illustration reveals, it will follow the Astra and Antara SUV with a bold front end and a radical fastback profile. A higher-quality cabin will also be key to keeping the new model on terms with its rivals. And it's inside that the new Vectra will make the biggest leaps over the existing car. Flag¬ship Vectras will get a system called Traffic Assist, which has an array of lasers and video cameras that scan the road ahead for warning signs, lane markings and other traffic – meaning the Opel will be the world's first 'driverless' car.

Another first will be the arrival of a 4WD version, while the wider engine range will include a 200bhp 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel, plus a development of the 2.8 V6 petrol. On sale in 2008, the new Vectra should debut at 2007's Frankfurt Motor Show.

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