Vauxhall Opel Monza concept driven

The Vauxhall Opel Monza concept coupe could inspire a reborn Manta model

You only need to look at the Vauxhall Opel Monza concept, revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013, to glimpse at what Vauxhall has in store over the next decade. Its plug-in electric powertrain, futuristic interior and bold looks are all set to trickle down to production models over the next few years – and Auto Express has driven it.

Vauxhall news and reviews

In the metal, the Opel-badged Monza coupe is a striking design, and the team behind the project told us the face would appear on the next generation of Vauxhalls (see panel, opposite). The grille is a development of the current design language, while the large intakes and narrow headlights give more purpose than many current cars. The huge gullwing doors – they extend from front to rear – are concept car fantasy, but the ease with which you can get into the Monza’s hi-tech cabin reveals there is something in the idea.

Once inside, you’re presented with dials that merge into the dash as part of a wraparound LED projection screen. It’s customisable by the driver so it can display sat-nav, infotainment or a screensaver-style pattern.

The Vauxhall Monza feels like a car from the distant future, but Ivo van Hukten, chief designer of interior components, told us: “It’s feasible right now – you can see it works – but it will take time to get it to production.” Under the bonnet is essentially a development of the powertrain from the Ampera. It’s a plug-in hybrid, with the wheels driven by electric power, but with a petrol engine as a range-extender. Where the Ampera uses a 1.4-litre four-cylinder, the Monza has a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo. It’s set to appear in the Adam in autumn next year, which should help justify that car's price, but it’s also a strong bet for the next Ampera.

In the Monza, it’s fuelled by natural gas to lower CO2 emissions even further, but with the batteries fully charged, we never used it. Instead, we cruised silently around quiet residential streets, enjoying the instant torque and excellent refinement. The drivetrain and handling are rough around the edges – as you’d expect from a concept – but the figures beat the current Ampera’s 235mpg. This hi-tech powertrain helps with the Monza’s sleek looks, too, with head of concept cars Frank Leopold revealing: “Smaller batteries leave more room in the back, while a smaller petrol engine allows a lower bonnet and therefore roof.”

When we quizzed Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann about a roadgoing version, he said: “A new Manta, inspired by the Monza, may come in a few years.”

There’s a lot of pressure on Vauxhall-Opel to turn its fortunes around, but with exciting cars like the Monza and the innovative tech it previews, you wouldn’t bet against the brands’ future success.

Recommended

Vauxhall offers 30,000 miles of free charging with EV models
Vauxhall Corsa-e - cornering front
Vauxhall

Vauxhall offers 30,000 miles of free charging with EV models

Vauxhall extends 3-year/30,000 mile charging deal as part of wider EV push
12 Aug 2021
Stellantis confirms Ellesmere Port’s future as Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen electric van factory
Ellesmere Port - Stellantis
Vauxhall

Stellantis confirms Ellesmere Port’s future as Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen electric van factory

Vauxhall’s new parent company, Stellantis, will spend £100 million to convert former Astra production line over to electric vans
6 Jul 2021
New Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD gets 145bhp and 124-mile range
Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD - front
Vauxhall

New Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD gets 145bhp and 124-mile range

Specs for the all-electric Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD have been revealed, although the German brand has no plans to put it into production
18 May 2021

Most Popular

Best electric cars to buy 2021
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
19 Oct 2021
New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch
Michelin Uptis
News

New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch

The new airless Michelin Uptis is made from rubber and fibreglass and promises to be longer lasting, fuel-saving and recyclable
20 Oct 2021