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Geneva show: Opel eyes new GT

Holden link with Opel’s new-generation “breathtaking, puristic” GT sportscar

18 Jan 2016

HOLDEN’S GM Australia Design is believed to have had a hand in the development of Opel’s new GT sportscar concept that will foreshadow the latest step in the new design philosophy for Opel and its sister brands Vauxhall, Holden and Buick.

To be fully revealed at the Geneva motor show in March, the GT has been teased in a brief video featuring Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann who promised to reveal more in a second instalment on January 21.

“Take a look at Opel with a new pair of eyes,” Mr Neumann says in the video, as the camera zooms into his left eye to reveal a “vibrant red wheel” that forms part of the GT’s design.

GoAuto understands that the GT is not the only imminent GM debutante that Holden’s design team has had a role in, with another about to break cover elsewhere overseas in the first half of this year.

The Opel GT will be revealed in concept form at the Swiss auto expo. Although it is said to be a design study, it is likely to turn up as a production car in the next few years, not only for Opel and Vauxhall but also Holden and perhaps Buick.

It would be the third Opel sporstcar to carry the GT moniker, with the Kadett-based GT coupe in production from 1968 to 1974, and then the American-built, Pontiac Solstice-based GT convertible from 2007 to 2009.

The latter, manufactured in Delaware, was also shared as the Saturn Sky in the US and the Daewoo G2X in South Korea before it met its demise in the global financial crisis. This vehicle was never made in right-hand drive, so had no chance for Holden’s line-up in Australia.

The new version, however, might well be one of the 24 new models to be rolled out by Holden by the end of the decade, mostly likely sitting above the Astra-based Cascada.

GM’s United Kingdom brand Vauxhall has issued a similar release about the GT, suggesting that it could very well be produced in right-hand drive.

At this stage, Holden is all quiet on the GT, with product communications manager Mark Flintoft telling GoAuto that the company had nothing to add to the Opel disclosure.

He did point out, however, that the Melbourne-based GM Australia Design was well hooked into GM’s global design organisation, and thus working on a number of projects for GM partners around the world.

The previous two Opel GT’s were front-engine, rear-wheel-drive designs, raising hopes that the newest edition will be a true high-performance rear-drive sportscar, perhaps based on the same light-weight rear-drive platform as the Holden-designed Buick Avenir large sedan concept shown at last year’s Detroit motor show and the Buick Avista sports coupe concept that made its debut last week in Detroit.

Both cars were awarded the Eyes On Design award for the best new design at the show.

If such a rear-drive GT makes it into the Holden line-up as expected, it will go some way to assuaging the grief of Holden fans over the demise of the rear-drive Commodore next year.

We are betting the GT will carry at least some styling cues from its Buick brethren as GM brings its European, British, Australian and American sub-luxury brands into alignment.

Holden’s GM Australia Design has been at the core of this design change, styling the exterior of the pace-setting Avenir and then building the show car at its Port Melbourne studios.

As one of only two GM sites in the world to be able to make such show cars from scratch, Holden more than likely built the new GT at its fabrication workshops before shipping it to Europe ahead of the Geneva show.

It is unclear if the GT is the V8 sportscar promised to Holden fans by GM International president Stefan Jacoby, but if previous Opel GTs are anything to go by, it will be somewhat smaller, perhaps with a hi-po four-cylinder engine or twin-turbo V6.

In a blurb accompanying the video that was released by Opel in Germany on Friday night, Mr Neumann described the GT as “the next major step for Opel”.

The blurb goes on: “The concept car carries on the great tradition of the car-maker that is already made clear by the name: the Opel GT Concept is coming.

“In the film, a vibrant red wheel is mirrored in the eye of the beholder, heralding a breath-taking concept that will celebrate its premiere at the Geneva Motor Show (March 3-13).

“The breathtaking and puristic sportscar expresses the continuous innovative strength and the new lifestyle of Opel.”

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