Vauxhall will unveil its new Monza coupe concept at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, exactly 36 years after the original Monza was revealed at the very same event. This sleek new Vauxhall isn’t a retro throwback though – it sports a cutting-edge gas/electric powertrain that promises to be even more frugal than Vauxhall’s own 235mpg Ampera.
So the new Monza shows the future of Vauxhall, does it?
Yes, according to Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel/Vauxhall CEO. He’s proposed that the two critical features of new Vauxhalls should be maximum connectivity for different technologies, and ultimate efficiency. The car’s sharp-edged styling is also set to inspire the next generation of Vauxhall cars, too.
It looks a good bit sleeker than your average Insignia…
The Monza stands 4.69m long – the same as the current Vauxhall Cascada convertible. At 1.31m tall though, it’s 170mm lower than an Insignia saloon, though Vauxhall claims the car still offers space for four occupants and a 500-litre cargo bay, thanks to the slightly flattened roof panel. It’s disguised by the slimline, polished strip which runs from the A- to C-pillar, across the full-length gullwing doors.
What are the technology highlights inside?
There’s no giant infotainment widescreen display: instead, 18 miniature LED projectors turn the entire dashboard structure into an interactive display surface, creating 3D graphics for infotainment and web-browsing. Instead of the usual Vauxhall fare of multiple dashboard buttons, all the Monza’s functions are activated by voice commands.
There are also three modes of smartphone connectivity: ‘Me’, ‘Us’, and ‘All’. The first setting shuts down all smartphone functions except those expressly wanted for driving, like navigation commands, or music playback. ‘Us’ allows connection between a set group of family members and close friends, while ‘All’ allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to access the car’s journey information, encouraging car sharing between people travelling to nearby destinations, says Vauxhall.
It might sound Orwellian, but it’s just one idea in the battle to reduce urban congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Although this particular system is merely a showpiece, you can bet new Vauxhalls will go big on the iPhone and Android gadget compatibility angle.
What’s under the Monza’s bonnet?
Holding up the efficiency end of Neumann’s promise is the Monza’s new range-extender powertrain. It’s derived from the drivetrain in the Ampera, but swaps a 1.4-litre petrol engine for the Adam city car’s new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.
Instead of petrol, the new three-pot runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). It’s used to charge the car’s lithium-ion batteries rather than power the wheels directly: that job is handled by twin electric motors developing a combined 148bhp.
What’s the benefit of burning compressed natural gas in the engine?
Gas-fired engines emit half the CO2 of a comparable petrol version – the VW group already offers CNG-powered versions of the VW Up and Audi A3 in Europe, where the fuel is more readily accessible to consumers. If green-lighted for production, the Monza’s powertrain could easily beat the Ampera’s combined fuel economy of 235mpg and 27g/km CO2 output.
But will I be able to buy a Monza?
That’s not likely: CAR’s first Monza story revealed that Vauxhall would expect to charge around £50,000 to make the car a showroom reality. However, there’s nothing outlandish in the powertrain that couldn’t filter into regular cars, and the CEO promises the sharp design ‘embodies what our customers can expect from us within the next years.’
>> The question is, do you like Vauxhall’s new direction? Tell us your thoughts on the Monza concept in the comments section below