It’s an old and familiar name for Opel fans and owners, but there’s nothing retro about the strikingly futuristic Monza that General Motors’ struggling European subsidiary has unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show – whether its sleek and curvaceous design or the hybrid-electric drivetrain under the hood.
Opel is rolling out an assortment of new products for the well-attended and influential Frankfurt show, including an update of its Insignia wagon. But the Monza is arguably the most intriguing and important of the introductions, even if it never makes it into an Opel showroom.
GM has been bleeding ink in Europe since just before the start of the new Millennium. It recently announced a controversial turnaround plan that includes the closure of a major German assembly plant. But the maker is well aware that it is product, not cost-cutting, that will make or break that plan. The challenge is to come up with designs that can rebuild an otherwise stodgy and boring image and bring potential buyers back into showrooms.
“We know we have to evolve and this concept is a perfect fit for us,” said chief stylist Mark Adams, who described the Opel Monza as “a perfect blend of emotion and practicality.”
“With this concept,” he added, “we’re clearly seeing where Opel’s designs are heading in the future,”
The Monza is one of several Frankfurt concept vehicles that seem to have been designed specifically to defy categorization – another being the Infiniti Q30. Opel’s offering comes across, from varying angles, as a blend of wagon, sedan, coupe and even a sports car, with its long, lean and athletic proportions.
For lack of a better definition, designer Adams said he’s settled on “Sporting Brake,” a twist on the British term for wagon.
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Explaining the inspiration for the Opel Monza, Adams pointed to the greyhound, with its powerful chest, thin waist and long, powerful haunches. The show car features a crisply hood crease, winged headlamps, a blade-like grille bar, and huge gullwing doors.
“You don’t climb out,” suggested Adams. “You float out.”
Inside, the instrument panel abandons traditional gauges and even the LCD displays becoming increasingly common, opting instead for a 3D display that runs the length of the instrument panel. The system is completely reconfigurable to meet personal tastes, noted the designer.
Meanwhile, the onboard technology features plenty of infotainment hardware, including ways to access a motorist’s social network connections safely while driving, Opel claims. On the safety front, the Monza concept adopts the latest in vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology designed to minimize collisions.
(Click Here for the complete wrap-up of the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.)
Under the hood, Monza is driven by an updated take on the plug-in hybrid powertrain now found in the Chevrolet Volt and its sibling Opel Ampera. Replacing the current 1.4-liter gasoline engine is a new, more efficient 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that can run on super-clean compressed natural gas. The engine could also be revised to use gasoline or Opel could substitute a diesel or even go all-electric.
While there’s little likelihood the Opel Monza – at least in this concept form – will return to showrooms, Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann suggested the design will have a “long-term impact” on styling for the Opel brand and its British twin, Vauxhall,
GM is promising to launch a flood of new vehicles over the coming years as it puts its turnaround plan into action. That means some of the styling cues and technologies found in the Opel Monza concept could wind up showing up at another auto show preview in the near future.
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