• Mar 1, 2009
Click image to enlarge

With the Geneva Motor Show set to kick off this week, the dam holding back any remaining images and info is ready to burst. Exhibit A: the Opel Ampera. We've seen it leaked on the European Registry site, teased by GM, and spied in the wild. Today, the first full, official shot has been released, and honestly we have to wonder whether GM would have been better off giving the Chevy Volt the Opel's fascia. Seriously, for a car that's supposed to be so important, cutting-edge and revolutionary, the Volt looks pedestrian compared to the Ampera. The European cousin gets a more modern, and frankly, more attractive appearance. Sure, underneath, it's all the same tech, and the two cars' profiles are identical. But the Ampera's clearly the head-turner of the two. The Volt? Not so much. It could and should have been, as we can now plainly see.

Agree? Disagree? Let's take an informal poll. Follow the jump to vote.


[Source: GM]




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      In defense of the Chevy designers, they're appealing to a market where the most popular cars are the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. The most popular hybrid is the ultra bland Prius. They know the customer base wants safe designs and they will sell every one of them.

      Having said that, the Ampera is great looking and further proves that you don't need to be driving a vanillamobile to be eco-friendly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point. Americans seem to like bland.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's also got 20" wheels and is lowered a couple inches. Won't look like this in production I assure you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        True, they each fit their markets quite well.

        Ampera = picky Europeans


        Volt = Average Consumer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think that the average consumer prefers the bland cars. I think it's what sells more simply because it's the most available cars. You say the "ultra bland" Prius is the most selling hybrid. My question is, which hybrid ISN'T bland looking? I find it's a vicious circle. The car companies make bland cars on the assumption that bland is what people want, but seeing as the entire market is bland looking there's not really anything to base that assumption on.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nellydesign, I disagree. Compare the wheel well gap to that of the Volt. No change. The wheels themselves are definitely bigger, but the Volt already has 18s. So it's not unbelievable that the Opel would come with 19s (they don't look like 20s to me). If that Volt is truly the production version, then I'd say this Opel is the final production version as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Prius is bland now, but there is nothing remotely like it on the market. It was a "spaceship" when it came out. Come on guys, get off your horse. The Prius is not "bland".

        The Prius has been a success because it IS different than anything else on the market. If you think it's just bland, you're fooling yourself. A bolder design for the Volt would be rightly justified in the U.S.
      • 5 Years Ago
      the car looks like a sad dog or something.. I don't like either.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Ampera is better...more interesting...more distinctive. But the Volt isn't bad and I can recall recent debates on its look right here on autoblog...a sign that the design actually generates some passion.

      However, if the Volt suffers it is because of the need that automakers seem to have when it comes to consistent design cues and "corporate faces." Why does the Volt need to look like any other Chevy? Why does Ford need to force 3 bars on the grill of every car? And now that that has failed, why are they applying "kinetic" styling to every car. Design is a tricky thing and the more rules you apply to it, the more limited the designers are. Take Ford: it's best design is the Mustang and it looks nothing like any other Ford. Chevy could have done the same thing with the Volt. It is a game changer. A blank slate. Yet someone insisted that it include the Chevy grill (note that the Volt doesn't even need one --it's a faux grill in this case so this seems even sillier).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now that's what the Volt should have looked like, love the head lights. But it doesn't, so there is no use complaining. Still looking forward to it none the less.

      I do think Chevy should have brought back the blue bow-tie for the Volt though, I've always thought it looked much better and it's much more of an "eco" color than gold. Who is with me?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I could see someone converting the Volt's body kit to the Ampera.
        It would be a great visual improvement, and probably wouldn't cost that much (compared to the price of the car).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I prefer the Volt. The Volt's design manages to combine classic sedan styling with cutting-edge. The Ampera, while more 'head-turning', is not the styling that will appeal to older, richer people who would buy such an expensive vehicle. I think Chevrolet did it right.

      Avinash - The Cadillac Converj probably makes more sense to do. It would be very high-profit margin and would establish the Voltech among the design/high class elite buyers.


        • 5 Years Ago
        Purposefully bland for older richer people? Isnt there already numerous bland GM cars old people can choose from?

        GM is full of executives that just dont get it. Out of the dozens of vehicles GM markets, I could count the number I would be interested in buying on one hand (not including the thumb). Yes, I am in the market for a new car, and GM is FAR from having anything nearly desirable when compared to the foreign competition.

        Lets face it, GM has no clue how to make "cool" cars. All the advertising in the world wont change that. The Lexus IF, BMW 3, Acura TSX and numerous others come to mind before I would even consider something as bland as a Malibu.

        Sure, they market bland items like the Malibu to the general public and not the auto enthusiasts. But I dont think GM understands that the 'car guy' of the family (myself) is the person friends and relatives go to when asking for a recommendation for a car.

        He'll, I have 4 co-workers that have all bought new cars in the past year. Want to take a guess at what they were? Scion xB, Honda CRV, Lexus IS350, BMW 3. Ranging from the economy level to the sport luxury level, not once was a domestic car considered.

        How much more bland product and billions in loss does GM need to finally realize theyre dead in the water. A single new green car is not going to remedy the dozens of bland automobiles no one truly wants to buy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Although, all said and done, this is the vehicle needs to have available across all it's (future existing) brands to work towards achieving economies of scale and driving the prices down and getting the fleet MPG to the CAFE standard. In recent years, GM has been doing platform engineering very well and perhaps they can pull it off!

        I've been very impressed with GM's (and Ford's) ability to change quickly in spite of their size and legacy issues. People tend to look at their negatives...I firmly look at what the men and women there are doing NOW to make positive changes against all odds. To me, they define American spirit and ingenuity in the face of adversity.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point. Cadillac Converj would sell better to high end buyers than a Buick branded model. I had forgotten about the Converj.
      • 5 Years Ago
      looks like a boomerang
      • 5 Years Ago
      That chevy grill is horrid....
      • 5 Years Ago
      While I do think the Ampera is more striking visually, I am pretty sure most people in the market for either car, will buy it or not for one of fours reasons:

      #1 "It fits their Needs and Budget" - If the can swing the payments and it will cut the cost of transportation, mission accomplished. Tax rebates and local incentives will factor in but in the end be it Toyota, Chevy, Ford or Honda - some people still buy whatever keep more money in their pocket.

      #2 "It is the New-EcoThing" - To the Uber-Greenie, the Volt/Ampera is the next logical step from a Prius. Were ALL Prius owners loyal to Toyota before they bought a Prius? I pretty sure they were not. They wanted the the implied net result on the environment or their own public image, no matter what the truth of their decision may be.

      #3 "It is the Highest Rated by (insert mass media reviewer here)" - If the production model is ranked Best, Most (Whatever) or (Whomever's) Choice, people who buy it on their favorite media outlet's suggestion alone. They will buy it online, walk in without a test drive or take whichever is on the lot. They will WANT it and if they can afford it, will buy one, any one they can find, period.

      #4 "It is a GM product" - A few people still buy one make and one make only. Thankfully we don't have the problem of such subjects cluttering up the pages of Autoblog.com with such inane conversations.

      All the above points can serve to drive a purchase or eliminate the Volt / Ampera if the results conflict the potential buyer's expectations or beliefs.

      Sadly, looks, performance, quality, ROI and carbon-impact are all too complex decisions for most people. That would require effort on the buyer's part and honestly, most people just don't have that capacity, time or inclination. The few that do, will be the minority just as they are now, the Volt/Ampera will be no different.

      I'll bet a overwhelming major of the buyers of either will not even be aware of the actual looks of they one they can't buy in their home market, thus this whole topic is just fodder for the blogs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Duely noted sir and I stand corrected.

        Not sure why I thought there are any practical, passionate, sheepish or brand loyal buyers anywhere but in the good ol' US of A!

        While I am willing to believe that there is a HIGHER percentage of buyers in the European markets that make automobile purchase decisions based on research, drawn out, thoughtful, informed decisions with great personal reflection - the second sentence from the top of this post was pure sarcasm.

        If not, then let me, the poor American, actually believe that :

        "I am sure the rest of world is full of people just as lazy, stubborn, narrow minded, obstinate and ignorant has the moron I am currently having to deal right with now"

        Thank you.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm European, but I have to say I like the Volt's styling slightly better.
      I think it was a good decision to give the Ampera an individual look though, just slapping the blitz on the Volt instead of the bow tie would look awkward. It just wouldn't work with Opel's general design language, while the Ampera's front fits rather nicely.

      Since the Volt will eventually be sold alongside the Ampera in Europe, it's not that much of a problem I guess.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Like a crying baby
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was going to say crying Civic :D
        It still look cool though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM do something for your sanity and bring the opel. people in america have moved on enough to digest it
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Ampera WAS going to be sold here, as a Saturn, according to a local Saturn dealer I talked to. Now, apparently not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry, what's this "Saturn" you speak of? :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        well it still could be sold here as buick...

        apparently, after saturn is gone, opel will still see their cars in the states just rebadged as buicks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        thank god they didn't. I'm all for the salvation of Saturn ( even though I myself would never drive one) but I think GM should point out the fact the this is a great design and let the Volt stand out from the rest of the lineup. If they start making carbon copies with different badges again people will think this is just another GM product shamelessly being pushed out and mass produced without much thought.
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