MEET the top-secret show-stopper that started life in Holden’s Port Melbourne design studios in the middle of 2015.
The eye-catching Opel GT Concept, which is shaping up to be one of the stars of the Geneva motor show (March 3-13), was designed in Europe but is a product of Holden’s secret fabrication group, one of only two in the General Motors world that can create one-off show stars.
The radical two-door coupe sits on a unique rear-drive platform that gives it the driver-focused nous to take on the COTY-winning Mazda MX-5 and 2012 winners the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins.
Described as a “template for future sports cars”, the GT Concept from GM’s European brands is targeted to weigh less than 1000kg.
It’s built on a bespoke reardrive platform and uses GM’s new all-aluminium 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, producing 107kW and 205Nm. It drives through a sixspeed sequential gearbox and accelerates to 100km/h in “under eight seconds” on the way to a maximum of 215km/h.
The unusual styling is described by GM Europe design chief Mark Adams as “purebred, pared down, yet unashamedly avant-garde”.
“It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue,” Adams said. “In the mid-60s Vauxhall and Opel created their own interpretations of a lightweight sports car – the XVR and the Experimental GT – both of which were thoroughly modern with dynamic sculptural form.”
While a rear-drive platform under the concept would be crucial to the production GT’s
ability to battle rivals like the Toyota 86 and Mazda MX-5, GM Europe sources say it’s unlikely, and that the Barina/Corsa FWD architecture makes more business sense. The company hopes to gather more market intelligence after the GT is unveiled at the Geneva show.
One insider said the GT Concept shows the company’s direction: “Like the new (European) Astra, this car continues with the theme of making a car that is no bigger than it needs to be. One that is pared-down, light and no more complex than necessary.”
As for a Holden version of the production car? It’s possible, especially if the GT gets the green light for sale in the UK. But the little concept car that Australia built still has a number of gates to clear before those negotiations can take place. n