Vauxhall GT coupe concept - new photos from the Geneva motor show

No production plans, but Opel and Vauxhall's concept promises a sub-1000kg kerb weight and rear-wheel drive

Previewed in the run-up to the 2016 Geneva motor show, Opel and Vauxhall’s GT Concept is undoubtedly one of the stars of this year’s show.

Details are deliberately scarce, with no commitment from the companies to put the car into production, but the details we do have are enticing: The GT is front-engined, rear wheel drive, lightweight and incredibly compact – with a smaller footprint than a Corsa.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

At 3.85 metres long, 1.68m wide and 1.18m tall, it’s shorter, narrower and lower than a Mazda MX-5, but features a fixed roof and an ultra-low bonnet line that gives the GT even more dramatic proportions than Mazda’s roadster.

While the car is inspired by Opel’s original GT sports car, designer Mark Adams is adamant the new GT is not a retro design.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

‘The original was a fantastic design and represented the spirit of the 1960s’ he said at a pre-show unveiling of the car. ‘We wanted to bring that spirit into 2016, but do it in a progressive, modern way.’

To that end, Opel has ensured the new car is compact – also a feature of the original – and with a 1-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine, simple forms and sub-1000kg kerb weight, it also echoes the original’s approachability and attainability.

There are flourishes – the red front tyres reference those of the 1920s Opel Motoclub 500 motorcycle, and the wheels they’re mounted on have a ‘roller-skate’ design – but overall the GT is an incredible simple shape.

‘There are no big, open, gaping holes to show performance’ says Adams. ‘The key to emphasising the car’s simplicity is the red line running through the car – your eye travels along this line, which makes the car look longer and lower. It has a relaxed stance, to communicate that it’s a rear-wheel drive vehicle.’

That red motif also has practical purposes: by curving into the roofline, the huge doors – which pivot half way between the front wheel arch and where a traditional door cut-line might be – allow you to step down into the car, rather than feeding yourself in through a narrow opening.

Once inside, the simplified cabin is more spacious than you might expect too. That’s partly down to the clever seamless transition between bodywork and side windows. With no distinct separation between door and glass, the window is much deeper than you might expect. From the driver’s seat, the raised front fenders peak above the wheels, so you can see the corners of the car.

Advertisement - Article continues below

A single dashboard element spans the cabin, carrying small round screens at its extremities – that show images from side-mounted cameras – and an instrument panel that Adams calls ‘a single-piece sculptural object’.

Displays are back-projected and while the two instrument binnacles suggest a separate tachometer and speedometer, the two are actually combined in one. ‘The speedo and rev counter are in one dial,’ explains Adams, ‘with the speedo on the back surface, while the rev counter comes out through the tube.’

The engine develops 143bhp and 151lb ft of torque, and while a manual transmission might be the default choice for a small sports car like this, Opel has chosen to use a six-speed sequential with steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The 0-62mph dash takes ‘less than eight seconds’, with a 134mph top speed – both figures perfectly competitive with the MX-5.

That Opel and Vauxhall have no plans to turn the car into a production model is a shame, but perfectly understandable – GM has no lightweight, inexpensive rear-drive platform in its portfolio.

But as the compact sports car market expands – with Fiat and Abarth 124 joining MX-5, Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86, and Toyota’s S-FR potentially on the way – the case for its creation becomes ever stronger.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Check out all the latest production cars, concepts and videos on our Geneva motor show hub page.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/lotus/202124/lotuss-badge-engineered-specials-from-cortina-to-carlton-and-vx220
Lotus

Lotus's badge-engineered specials: from Cortina to Carlton and VX220

19 Jan 2020
Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

15 Jan 2020
Visit/morgan/202113/strictly-limited-morgan-plus-4-70th-anniversary-edition-revealed
Morgan Plus 4

Strictly limited Morgan Plus 4 70th Anniversary Edition revealed 

15 Jan 2020
Visit/toyota/gt-86/202104/toyota-gt86-vs-mazda-mx-5-vs-abarth-124-spider-lightweight-sports-car-shootout
Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 vs Abarth 124 Spider – lightweight sports car shootout

14 Jan 2020
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/toyota/gt-86/202104/toyota-gt86-vs-mazda-mx-5-vs-abarth-124-spider-lightweight-sports-car-shootout
Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 vs Abarth 124 Spider – lightweight sports car shootout

Three affordable sports cars from Japan and, er, Japan battle it out on the Yorkshire Dales
14 Jan 2020
Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

New models eschew turbos with detuned 4-litre from the Spyder and GT4
15 Jan 2020
Visit/news/202119/2020-geneva-motor-show-preview-what-to-expect-from-europes-most-important-auto-show
News

2020 Geneva motor show preview

Electrification will likely dominate proceedings, but Geneva will have plenty of performance metal to get excited about too
17 Jan 2020
Visit/hyundai/201819/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-nurburgring
Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Nurburgring

We brought the Hyundai i30 Fastback back to its spiritual home in Germany's Eifel mountains, where there is a racing track you might well have heard o…
7 Oct 2019