Chevrolet WTCC Ultra

Published: 28 September 2006

Chevrolet Ultra: the lowdown

Hidden beneath the WTCC Ultra's wild touring car looks is Chevrolet's 2008 Ford Focus rival. GM's headline concept car at today’s Paris motor show (Thursday 28), the Ultra previews Chevrolet's future design direction, as well as the Lacetti replacement. Although the muscular bodykit, ultra-wide track, funky graphics and slitty rear window will all be toned down for production, 'you won’t miss the connection when the production car arrives,' a GM insider told CAR Online. Although the race spec interior features a roll cage and paddleshift transmission, the concept runs a most un-touring car like 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Touring car bodykit, family car package

The aggressive nose, far removed from today's range of rebadged Daewoos, shows the future direction for European Chevys. An exaggerated Chevy bow tie-badge dominates the front end, sandwiched between two aggressive grilles. Expect the funky headlamp shape to figure on the finished car, because that sculpted bonnet has been built up to meet European pedestrian protection regs – a sure sign that the front end is destined for production. The profile view is extremely sporty, with its sleek glasshouse and dynamic lines sweeping up to the rear of the car. The Ultra is a five-door, although the rear doors aren't obvious because the handle is hidden in the window section, Alfa 147-style. The General's Australian design outpost at Holden styled the car, under the guidance of GM Asia-Pacific design boss David Lyon. He wants to transform the image of Chevrolet in Europe, getting rid of slab-sided cars like today's Lacetti hatch. 'We are working with the engineers to ensure features like much bigger wheels and a wider track,' says Lyon. 'We want to push the car’s architecture and stance to be more expressive.

Chevrolet Ultra: under the skin

The concept car measures 4.3m-long, bang on the size of a European hatchback. The production car will be underpinned by a new GM global architecture, which will replace today’s Delta plaftorm that underpins the latest Astra. Four-cylinder engines will be mounted across the nose, with drive sent to the front wheels. 'It doesn’t need to have a big block engine under the hood, it just needs to look like it does,' says designer Lyon. He's true to his word. The WTCC Ultra runs the 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine that will be offered in the current Lacetti in spring 2007, although a higher pressure turbo boosts output to 190bhp.

The inside story: touring car meets Batmobile

Lyon decided on a racing concept car because it taps into the most exciting Chevrolet in Europe (bar the Corvette): the victorious Lacetti World Touring Car. And the Ultra WTCC's cabin is as true to its racing theme as the uncompromising exterior. Unpolished metal, carbonfibre inserts and dark leather inspired by Batman's suit dominate the cockpit. The adjustable pedal box, steering wheel and sequential gear lever all encircle the driver, to enable him to fully concentrate on ruling the track.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine