Vauxhall has revealed its bold and purebred GT Concept, which is set to be revealed on General Motor’s Opel stand at next month’s Geneva International Motorshow (March 3-13).
In revealing its vision of a future sports car, Vauxhall describes the minimalistic GT Concept as purebred, pared down, and unashamedly avant-garde, with a classic front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis, aimed at bringing a huge grin to the face of any driving enthusiast.
The GT Concept encapsulates Vauxhall’s British designer Mark Adams’ philosophy of ‘Sculptural Artistry meets Technical Precision’, with the concept’s name inspired by that of the 1964 GT Concept, the first styling model to be produced by the nascent Vauxhall Design & Engineering Centre in Luton, which opened the same year.
Significantly, the GT Concept also pays homage to a pair of GM motor show prototypes: the 1966 Vauxhall XVR and the 1965 Opel Experimental GT, the first true concept vehicles to appear from the design houses of a European manufacturer. The 2016 GT Concept is also a logical step on from the innovative 2013 Monza concept.
‘We created the GT Concept to capture the bold, emotional spirit of both the Vauxhall and Opel brands,’ said Mark Adams, Vice President, Design Europe. ‘It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue. In the mid-Sixties, 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 forms. It’s certainly difficult to reinvent iconic concepts like these, but just as each was avant-garde back then, so too is this GT Concept today – absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising. This coupe impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy.’
A distinctive feature of the GT Concept are its large doors with integrated side windows to give a seamless transition from glass to painted surfaces. Access to the spacious interior comes by pressing a touchpad for the electric doors that is integrated in the red signature line of the roof. The doors cleverly open into the front arches, using a space-saving and patented mounting that allows a large opening angle for tight parking spaces. Two cameras mounted behind the wheel arches offer enhanced visibility, and transmit their images to two monitors on both sides of the cabin, rendering external mirrors obsolete. The windscreen flows into a glass panoramic roof, affording occupants a similar experience to that of a targa-topped car.
The GT Concept name was first used by Vauxhall in 1964 for its rakish, full-sized styling model, the first of its kind from Vauxhall’s new-for-1964, £2.25m Design & Engineering Centre in Luton, which became a leading centre of its kind in the UK for the next two decades.
Just two years later the radical Vauxhall XVR show-car that really put the Centre on the map. Built to showcase Vauxhall’s design innovation and autonomy in the mid-Sixties, the XVR project was managed by the legendary Wayne Cherry at Luton. Inspired by parent company GM’s work with concepts in the US – including the ‘65 Mako Shark II – the XVR (Xperimental Vauxhall Research) had a simple purity of line, gull-wing doors forming a unique split windscreen, a clamshell bonnet and pop-up headlights.
Fifty years on, the GT Concept once again showcases the sporting spirit of GM’s two European brands. The red signature line that splits the vehicle body horizontally and proportions it, including the distinctive front red tyres – mounted on rims with a ‘roller-skate’ design – are a reference to an iconic Opel motorbike from the 1920s – the Motoclub 500 – which sported red-coloured rubber.
The GT Concept’s front-mid engine configuration is aimed to keep the car’s centre of gravity low and central for excellent dynamics. Beneath its stretched bonnet is a1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine, based on the all-aluminium unit used in the Vauxhall Adam, Corsa and Astra. Developing 143bhp and maximum torque of 151 lb ft, the engine delivers drive to the rear wheels, via a six-speed sequential transmission operated by steering wheel mounted paddle shift. Weighing under 1,000kgs, the GT Concept accelerates from 0-62mph in less than eight seconds and on to a maximum speed of 134mph.
Another unique feature of the GT Concept is its integrated headlamp/indicator units. Using ultra-modern projection technology, the lights have a three-dimensional beam to enable glare-free high-beam driving. Based on Vauxhall/Opel’s IntelliLux LED matrix lighting, first seen in the recently launched Astra, the GT Concept sees the intelligent lighting system’s next stage of development. The design of the lights is completed by the three-dimensional design of the tail lamps.