Opel has done a lot to revitalize itself over the past few years, developing a solid product portfolio with hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, minivans and crossovers. What it's missing, though, is a sports coupe – because, let's face it, the Cascada cabrio hardly fits the bill.
Hopes were raised when Opel revealed it was working on a new Monza concept, reviving a nameplate borrowed from an Italian racetrack and previously used on a six-cylinder fastback version of the Senator sedan. Opel has now revealed the Monza in full, but it's neither the sportscar we expected nor the harbinger of a new production model – much less one we could look forward to General Motors porting over as a Buick coupe, for that matter.
What you're looking at instead is a design study that hints at the way Opel will style its cars moving forward. Sized in between the Astra and Insignia, the Monza concept has two giant gullwing doors to give access to both front and rear seats, which is probably your first clue that this is more of a show car than a pre-production prototype. Inside, the futuristic cabin features an LED projection dashboard with 3D graphics, new social interactive systems and a lot of swoopy forms and curved wood.
The concept is powered by a CNG version of the hybrid powertrain you'd find in the Opel Ampera or Chevrolet Volt, propelling a form that is more sedan than sports coupe, even if it does technically only have two doors. A successor to the original Monza it is not – let alone a replacement for the Lotus Elise-based Speedster or Pontiac Solstice-based GT that followed – but as an indicator of where Opel is heading, it looks promising. But we'll reserve final judgement for when we see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in a couple of weeks. For more details, check out our gallery and the official press release below.
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Rüsselsheim. A light, athletic look outside, unique projection technology inside combined with custom connectivity and modular design that enables sustainable propulsion systems par excellence – the Opel Monza Concept is stylish, ultra-modern efficiency on four wheels. It is the role-model for the next generation of Opel cars. The groundbreaking concept car makes its world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt from September 12 - 22 (press days: September 10 - 11) and shows what people can expect from Opel in the future.
"The Monza Concept represents the Opel car of tomorrow", says Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. "On one hand, it embodies everything that already characterizes Opel – German precision combined with innovative technologies wrapped in captivating design. In addition, it addresses the themes that will be the development-focus of the next generation of Opel cars: maximum connectivity and optimum efficiency."
"Connectivity is demonstrated by a trailblazing LED projection technology for instrument and infotainment displays. Efficiency comes in many ways, with lightweight design, optimal use of interior space, and advanced powertrain technology. The Monza Concept is based on increasing electrification of the automobile in everyday driving, from range-extender to fuel cell. And as far as styling is concerned, we are expressing pure efficiency in a new, lean and athletic interpretation of our typical sculptural shapes. The Opel Monza Concept is nothing less than our vision of the automotive future."
Lightness: Styling conveys athletic efficiency rather than pure muscle power
An Opel Monza already made its world premiere at the IAA back in 1977: it was a large coupé with a silky smooth-running six-cylinder engine. The Monza was in production until 1986 and has long since belonged to the elite circle of iconic cars. The new Monza Concept now follows in its wheel-tracks: The beautifully shaped hood with the distinctive center fold continues the tradition of the Monza front with the typical Opel crease. The large boomerang shaped air intakes in front of the wheel arches complement the elegant chrome bar that proudly holds the brand logo.
With the Monza Concept, the designers in Mark Adams' team introduce a new interpretation of the sculptural design that first went into production with the Insignia. Selected distinctive lines, high-precision design and perfect sweeping contours remain the core of the evolving design philosophy called "Sculptural artistry meets German precision." But a new, athletic allure demonstrates the car's overall efficiency. "This is the next bold step along our journey into the future, but at the same time we show that we have established a consistent design in which people can build trust", says Mark Adams, Head of Opel Design.
The sculptural surfaces of the 4.69 meter-long, four seat Monza Concept are modeled after ocean waves lapping on the shore. These flowing surfaces give a look of lightness, dramatically underlined by the side-sills that taper off in front of the rear wheel arches. This unique styling element is inspired by the lean physique and slim waist of a greyhound dog, running as if on tip-toes with powerful elegance. The design of the Monza Concept's body sides enables easy entry and egress for front and rear-seat passengers, while underscoring the prominent, sporty rear wheel arches, which share the same width as the front.
The Monza Concept's roof line is particularly sophisticated – at first it runs in a semicircular form like a classic coupé's, but then just before reaching the tailgate it sweeps slightly upwards. In spite of its sporty look and flat silhouette with a height of just 1.31 meters, there is neither loss of space in the luggage compartment – 500 liters in volume – nor constrained headroom for the passengers. This is due to the fact that the whole cockpit structure is around 15 centimeters lower than in conventional models. Actually, the Monza Concept offers the same airy passenger compartment as a mid-size car.
The expansive doors provide maximum functionality with spectacular views when opening. They swing up like the outstretched wings of a condor and offer an unobstructed view of the spacious, open passenger cabin (or the surroundings from the inside) thanks to the absence of a B-pillar.
Connectivity: Efficient and well-connected into the automotive future
Efficiency and connectivity are the main focus of development in focus for next generation of Opel models. The Monza Concept offers a fascinating preview of these developments. Once behind the wheel, the Monza Concept whisks you away into a completely new and unique world of instruments and infotainment. The original Monza was also way ahead of its time 35 years ago with a digital display in the cockpit.
The Monza Concept continues innovating with state-of-the-art LED projection technology. Drivers no longer find the conventional individual, separate monitors that display different information; instead, they face a wide, sculpted dashboard that sweeps from door to door, and is used as a single projection surface. Information and decorative elements are displayed on the surface, which the driver can customize according to his needs, taste or mood. A total of 18 LED projectors create a continuous, adaptable multi-functional display. This is a world premiere in an automobile. Already established in the events arena, this technology has caused a sensation at major occasions such as Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee, and Opel designers were first to think of implementing it in a passenger car. The 3D graphics are impressive, and reflect all important functions from precise vehicle and driver information to internet and communication options as well as decorative elements. Both the area displaying information and the background can be individually configured, and operation is via voice control and steering wheel controls.
Efficiency and clarity are also priorities here: when it came to how the displays present information, Opel engineers focused on the best and most personal way to make relevant data available to the driver. The approach was "simplifying the multitude" and so details on the car, the navigation and the smartphone settings and connection only appear when necessary or desired. So drivers can use a wide range of information without being overwhelmed by text or images. This also makes the Monza Concept a model of future HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) systems, as its interior design is based on latest research findings in this field.
This also applies to the comprehensive smartphone connectivity in the Monza Concept. With three worlds of connectivity – called ME, US and ALL – drivers can focus solely on their driving experience, or get in touch with friends and family or even connect to the whole internet community. With ME the infotainment system virtually disconnects the drivers' smartphone and prioritizes the information relevant for the driving experience. US enables the passengers of the Monza Concept to connect with a group of selected people such as friends and family members: these can log-in to the car's infotainment system with their own communication device and exchange information, music and images, chat and make appointments, etc. ALL goes beyond US. It allows the driver and virtually the whole outside world to connect. Drivers can for example spontaneously share their planned route online over a tablet or smartphone so that people can catch a ride with them along the way – enabling a new kind of instant car-sharing. With this trailblazing infotainment and connectivity technology, the Monza Concept shows how far ahead Opel designers and engineers are thinking, so that the next generation of cars make their contribution to a harmonious, connected society
The trendsetting sensor and connectivity technology in the Monza Concept has even more to offer: it gives a preview of the advancements in "Car-to-Car" and "Car-to-X" systems – prerequisites for future autonomous driving and areas in which the research department at Opel is already intensively working. By comprehensively connecting road users, intercommunication can be enhanced, as can safety, because dangerous traffic situations are registered earlier and more accurately than before.
Flexibility: Modular design for powertrain-diversity
The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are conceivable. For the Monza Concept to be displayed at the Frankfurt show, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender – a further development of the Ampera's pioneering technology. The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 SIDI turbo – which also makes its premiere at the IAA – takes over the task as range extender. But it does so with natural gas instead of gasoline, further improving the car's CO2 footprint. With its visionary approach, Opel continues to combine the potential of electric propulsion with the benefits of the internal combustion engine.
"We have a clear vision of how Opel cars will be in the future, and we have a clear strategy of how we will achieve this goal. The Monza Concept gives this strategy an unmistakable identity," says Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. "It embodies what our customers can expect from us within the next years; not only in terms of design, but also in terms of efficiency and connectivity between drivers and the internet community. So it already anticipates future everyday automotive life, and serves as an important source of inspiration on the road to that destination – and not just for Opel."