Sporty new Vauxhall GT Concept could appear by 2019

Opel/Vauxhall CEO says he is keen to push GT sports car to market

Vauxhall (and Opel) could be on track to launch a new sports car in the near future, according to boss Karl-Thomas Neumann.

Speaking at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Neumann said that the GT concept was an appealing idea as a production car: “We really want to build this. It’s a question of approach: we are studying different roads we could walk along. We have to spend our money wisely on the things that we need to drive the business. We would love to do it and it would help the brand a lot.”

With public reaction to the GT concept, first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the year, being very positive, the brand would be keen to ride the wave of good will. “We shouldn’t wait for another two years to decide this,” Neumann said. “But I am also not in the biggest rush. Rather than push it I will take my time.” That means that if the car is taken to market, it’s likely to appear around 2019 - or not at all.

The biggest hurdle to production would be the platform the car sits on: currently, there’s nothing in the range that fits the car’s front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

“For the platform we can always take parts and pieces,” he said. “But it’s all a matter of cost. If you do a lot of engineering work on the platform, then you can’t do it. You have to grab something from the shelf - but we don’t have something there now.”

The sporty GT Concept coupe was the design team's homage to the Opel GT from the sixties. Vauxhall billed the GT Concept as a “forward thinking” design study that builds on the striking Monza show car from 2013.

The suggestion is that the GT Concept could point the way to a sexy and sporty new ‘Tigra’ model. The GT Concept features a more powerful version of Vauxhall's current 1.0-litre engine, powering the rear wheels – and it weighs less than 1,000kg.

Mark Adams, who designed the car, told us at Geneva: "We're investigating what would need to be done to put this into production. We're enthusiastic about it and want to find a way, but we've not made a decision yet.

"All of the tech on this car is in the development window. There's no question for me that these things are coming to production cars."

Plus, Adams told us that the idea of this car was as an affordable sports car – just like the previous Opel GT from the sixties. "The GT was a sexy car, but it was still attainable – and that's what we wanted with this. Having a simple mechanical layout was key for us. It's about fun for everyone, not just those who can afford an exotic supercar."

The bold front end gets a wide grille flanked by LED headlights that claim to offer “ultra-modern projection technology” and “glare-free high-beam driving”. Meanwhile, the body’s short overhangs complement the long bonnet and sharp creases to create a sleek, considered shape.

The front wheels feature a unique red tyre that’s integrated into the bespoke steel rim. This colour is mirrored in a bright line that runs from the front wings, over the cabin and towards the car’s rear end.

 

Space-age technology

The main feature inside the car is a new system which Vauxhall is calling 'Human Machine Interface', or HMI for short. It's a completely buttonless system, and functions through a central touchpad and voice commands.

HMI recognises the driver's habits and adapts to his or her needs – so it should get smarter as time goes on. Vauxhall says it's sophisticated enough to change music, route and temperature according to the situation. 

Vauxhall GT - cockpit

The instruments in the GT Concept are actually projection surfaces and can display information in three dimensions and different colours. They adapt to the situation in different ways – so if the driver is under time pressure, it displays navigation without numerical values, and if spirited cornering is detected, it will display G-Force.

The voice commands are the real 'talking point' – and the car will even warn you vocally of hazards around you.

Futuristic detailing 

The GT continues its futuristic march by minimising shut lines. It pushes the clever doors into the front arches, thus seamlessly removing the usual break between door and front fender panel. They’re operated via an electric touchpad integrated into the roof, and offer improved passenger access while drastically cutting the space needed to open – handy for tight spaces. Conventional wing mirrors have been replaced by two cameras set behind the wheels, which transmit to a pair of monitors inside.

Vauxhall MD Rory Harvey said: “The GT Concept shows what Vauxhall and Opel stand for now – ambitious and confident brands that are not frightened to innovate.”

The dash has a smooth and minimalistic design, free of unnecessary instruments for superior space. And the windscreen reaches all the way to the C-pillar, blending into the panoramic roof above occupants’ heads.

Engine technology 

Under the bonnet sits a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo producing 143bhp. It’s based on the unit found in the current Corsa, and is tuned to develop 205Nm of torque. This is linked to a six-speed auto gearbox, directing power to the rear wheels. A sub-1,000kg kerbweight ensures the GT Concept can accelerate from 0-62mph in less than eight seconds and hit a top speed of 134mph.

We’re unlikely to see anything like this in Vauxhall showrooms any time soon, but chief designer Mark Adams has hinted that GT-inspired cars could form the basis of an overhauled future range. We’ll know more about the concept and Vauxhall’s future plans when the car’s unveiled in Geneva in March.

Q and A with Vauxhall design boss Mark Adams 

As Vauxhall reveals details about its Geneva show-stopping GT, Auto Express caught up with chief designer, Mark Adams.

Mark Adams - Vauxhall

Q: What does the GT Concept mean for Vauxhall?

A: “For a long time we’ve focused on our core portfolio. This project allowed us to expand on what Vauxhall could be going forward. We are not looking in the rear-view mirror. We want to be progressive.”

Q: What is different about the GT from what’s gone before it?

A: “We wanted to try things that even we didn’t think were possible. We didn’t want to create all the usual interfaces. We also wanted to simplify the number of cut lines.”

Q: What about the interior?

A: “We wanted to reduce everything to the minimum. The interior harks back to our cars from the sixties. Recently, things have become more bulky, but here we wanted to go back to the fundamentals of light weight and simplicity.”

Q: How will the GT influence cars such as the next Insignia?

A:“The GT’s a projection of where our brand is going over the next seven to eight years. This previews other models in our portfolio – but if I told you what they were, then I’d have to kill you!”

Vauxhall GT teaser videos

Vauxhall teased the GT Concept relentlessly before lifting the lid on the first official images. You can watch the video trailers below... 

What do you think of the Vauxhall GT Concept? Would you like to see something similar make production...

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