Looks good. But is it just some flight of fancy concept car with as much High Street relevance as one of Naomi Campbell’s more outrageous catwalk creations?
Not at all. Believe it or not, the next Vauxhall Vectra – replacement for one of the most nondescript cars in the world – is lurking under that sharp-edged, high-tailed body. The GTC Concept is, ‘the next chapter in Opel/Vauxhall design language,’ according to GM Europe’s boss Carl-Peter Forster. And the first car to get the treatment is the next Vectra, scheduled to go on sale in 18 months. ‘We have to be braver with our design and our engineering,’ says GM chairman Rick Wagoner. ‘When we build a competent mainstream car in Europe it typically does okay but not spectacularly. When we really try to innovate – look at the latest Astra – we usually succeed. The challenge is to make all our new models bolder and more successful.’
OK, so what is this design language?
Mark Adams, GM Europe’s design director of exteriors, describes it ‘as more distinctive, more emotional, more powerful’. To be a bit more specific, it includes distinctive body sides with almost Ferrari like ‘blade sections’ (note those scalloped sides), a high-deck rear (good for aerodynamics and boot space), a sharper-edged shoulder line and higher body sides (also helps cabin space) and head- and tail-lamps that have BMW-like ‘ticks’ at the upper edges, ‘to make the cars more distinctive at night,’ says Adams. The nose is also highly distinctive, especially those vertical ducts under the headlamps. Wagoner says ‘they’re contentious and may not make it to production’. The cabin is just as appealing, not least its wrap-around fascia that sweeps into the front doors, and the flowing angle of the dash. Adams says that driving appeal and sportiness will be really important for all future Vauxhalls – a major departure for Vectra – and this must be reflected in the design language.
So what else do we know about the next Vectra?
It will be technically advanced as well as stylistically bold, says GM Europe boss Forster. Expect the availability of an advanced new 4×4 transmission system, at least two high-tech new four-cylinder turbo petrol engines – mixing better torque with better fuel economy – and a new turbodiesel V6. GM has enjoyed success with the latest Astra and Corsa and puts that down mostly to bolder and more appealing design. It knows the Vectra/Mondeo sector is in long-term sales decline. This is its attempt to reverse that decline. If this new Vectra fails to sell in anticipated volumes, it will probably be the last Vectra. Sales success or not, though, the next Vectra look will also permeate into the replacements for the entire current Opel/Vauxhall range.