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Concept clues to the new Zafira

Geneva debut: The Opel Concept M car will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show

Opel's Concept M car reveals the design direction for the new Holden Zafira

1 Feb 2002

SHADES of the next generation Holden Zafira mini people-mover will be seen at the Geneva motor show in March when Opel unveils its Concept M show car.

The four-seater monocab concept has a different take on interior space to the seven-seat Zafira, however the exterior points to the design direction General Motors' European affiliate is taking with its practical, suburban-centred passenger cars.

Wider than Zafira, though shorter in overall length and height, Concept M shows just how determined Opel designers are to rid the landscape of mundane MPVs and replace them with objects of desire.

In doing so, the artisans have included cues of the forthcoming third generation Vectra as well as the Signum2 concept car from which the mid-size range - also making its first public outing at Geneva - draws much of its design style.

It is also conceivable that the capacious Concept M could point the way to future designs based on Vectra's new Epsilon platform. But Holden spokesperson Tristan Everett said the concept was less specific.

Mr Everett said Concept M drew upon elements from the Frogster show car revealed at the Frankfurt motor show last year, as well as Signum2, to illustrate what could be achieved in terms of a monocab design pitched at younger buyers.

"Concept M is more aligned to Signum2 and Frogster, rather than saying this is what the Epsilon Vectra will look like in its next generation," Mr Everett said.

Concept M's four occupants are treated to an exceptional amount of interior room, big bucket seats and useful storage solutions such as a roof console (with integrated DVD system).

Moreover, the driver can access the internet and regulate in-car controls like the heating and air-conditioning using a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).

Power comes from a 110kW, 1.6-litre natural gas turbo engine mated to Opel's so-called "Easytronic" automated manual transmission.

Cloud over convertible concept

DESPITE reports to the contrary, Holden says it has not canned plans to produce its UTEster concept car, the "convertible ute" that chairman and managing director Peter Hanenberger said would be a certain starter.

Unveiled at the 2001 Melbourne motor show last March, the UTEster featured a removable glass roof and sliding rear window to give it a convertible feel.

But reports last week asserted that the innovative sports concept had proven too expensive to produce for a realistic premium above the V8-powered $38,180 SS Ute upon which the UTEster is based.

Holden's large car marketing manager, John Elsworth, said: "We haven't made any announcement yet. There's a pretty formal process to go through and at this stage Utester hasn't received the final yay or nay in terms of whether it will see production."

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