Opel GT Concept revealed at Geneva 2016: Vauxhall’s sports car surprise

Published: 27 January 2016

► Vauxhall sports car concept at Geneva 2016 
► 3-cyl turbo engine, sub-1000kg kerbweight
► Centrepiece of Opel stand at the show

Do not adjust your screen: this is a new sports car concept from Vauxhall, and parent company Opel, called the GT Concept. And those red bits are there on purpose.

Powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder engine and pointing towards a potential production model, the GT Concept forms the centrepiece of Vauxhall/Opel’s stand at the 2016 Geneva motor show.

Vauxhall GT Concept at Geneva 2016: the design story

With classic long-bonnet, short-front-overhang sports car proportions, the GT Concept takes some of its inspiration from the 1966 Vauxhall XVR concept (below), shown at the Geneva motor show a neatly appropriate 50 years ago.

There are some cues from the 1965 Opel Experimental GT Concept displayed the year before, too. It also reminds us a little of the 1964 Pontiac Banshee concept, while we’re on the subject of kooky ’60s show cars…

1966 Vauxhall XVR

The doorhandles and mirrors have been ruthlessly shaved off in pursuit of clean, minimal surfaces. Instead, cameras on the trailing edge of the wheelarches link to monitors on the left and right of the cabin and the electric-powered doors open via a touchpad on the roof. Their unusual mounts enable them to swing partially into the front arches, allowing a wider opening angle in tight spaces.

Clever tinting work makes the side windows appear to flow into the roof without a visible join between glass and painted surface. Likewise, the windscreen flows into a glass roof, bordered by some seriously bright red paintwork.

What are the bright red bits about?

In Vauxhall’s words, the scarlet tyres and pillars ‘pay homage in an avant-garde way to the Motoclub 500, a futuristic Opel motorcycle from 1928 that wore red rubber.’ So there you go.

Opel GT Concept 2016

What makes the GT Concept go?

A front-mounted turbocharged engine powering the rear wheels via a sequential gearbox. Long bonnet or not, the engine beneath it is smaller than you might imagine: it’s a 1.0-litre triple that punches out 143bhp and 151lb ft.

This engine is a development of the same all-aluminium engine found in various derivatives of the Vauxhall Adam, Corsa and Astra. So it’s important to view the GT more as a compact MX-5 rival than an F-type-chasing grand tourer.   

Mounted low and behind the front axle line, the lightweight engine helps keep the kerbweight below the 1000kg mark. Vauxhall projects a 0-62mph time below eight seconds and a top speed of 134mph.

This isn’t the first Opel GT, is it?

Nope; the name was first applied to the pretty miniature coupe produced in the 1960s and ’70s (evolved from the ’65 concept the new car riffs on) and resurfaced on the left-hand-drive-only GT Roadster in 2007.

Vauxhall describes the GT Concept as a ‘template for future sports cars,’ so don’t rule out a potential production future for this latest GT-badged design. Do expect the proportions to become a little less dramatic, however. And we wouldn’t worry too much about the difficulties of finding replacement red tyres down at Kwik Fit, either…

Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here

Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 Geneva motor show

By James Taylor

Former features editor for CAR, occasional racer