Meet GTX, the fu­ture of Vaux­hall

With the tran­si­tion to French own­er­ship com­plete, Vaux­hall faces the fu­ture with a clean new look. By Jake Groves

CAR (UK) - - Contents -

THIS ISN’T JUST A BIT of eye candy for Vaux­hall to wheel out at mo­tor shows. No, the GT X Ex­per­i­men­tal con­cept has the heavy bur­den of sig­nalling both a new era of Vaux­hall de­sign and the of­fi­cial start of its new sta­tus as part of France’s Groupe PSA, not Amer­ica’s GM.

‘The change meant a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity for us,’ says Mark Adams, Vaux­hall and sis­ter brand Opel’s de­sign chief. ‘Not only are we clearly in the process of mov­ing our ve­hi­cle ar­chi­tec­tures to a dif­fer­ent set of plat­forms, but we had the op­por­tu­nity to think about what we do as a brand from a de­sign point of view. This is an op­por­tu­nity for us to re­de­fine what we wanted to be.’

If the new con­cept looks a lit­tle fa­mil­iar, that’s be­cause el­e­ments are car­ried over from the Opel GT con­cept car from 2016, which fea­tured clean sur­faces, a red sweep run­ning over the side win­dow line and red tyres. It looks even bet­ter now, bring­ing fresh rea­sons to be op­ti­mistic about the prospects for 161-year-old Vaux­hall.

It’s smaller than many con­cepts, with di­men­sions close to those of the cur­rent Corsa and trim­mer than Vaux­hall’s com­pact cross­over duo, the Cross­land X and Mokka X. ‘Nor­mally when you see con­cepts they’re very ex­treme, but they have lit­tle bear­ing on re­al­ity,’ says Adams. ‘Vaux­hall and Opel are brands that are in the main­stream, ap­peal­ing to real peo­ple. We thought: “Let’s create a con­cept that’s rel­e­vant in to­day’s mar­ket.” SUVs are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity but they’re chang­ing be­cause they’re bring­ing more car-like at­tributes.’

That ex­plains why so many of the de­tails of the GT X are clean like a hatch­back, rather than overtly chunky in com­mon SUV fash­ion. Adams speaks of how the con­cept beats a drum for pu­rity and bold­ness and points to a tra­di­tion of clean Bri­tish de­sign from the likes of Colin Chap­man-era Lo­tus, do­mes­tic-ap­pli­ance guru James Dyson and Ap­ple’s revered de­sign chief Jonathan Ive, blend­ing to­gether with mod­ern Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing cul­ture.

The glass ‘vi­sor’ – in­stead of a con­ven­tional grille – for ex­am­ple, is both a ref­er­ence to the an­gu­lar head­light cov­ers on clas­sic Vaux­hall Firen­zas and Opel Man­tas and a neat way of con­ceal­ing li­dar scan­ners and var­i­ous other sen­sors needed for the semi-au­ton­o­mous driv­ing equip­ment on board the GT X. The ‘com­pass’ of lines that in­cludes the cen­tral bon­net crease and winged day­time run­ning lights is also aimed at fo­cus­ing the eye on the Grif­fin and Bolt badges. ‘Vaux­hall and Opel are per­ceived in not as pos­i­tive a way as the brands de­serve,’ Adams says. The fo­cal point is in­tended to dis­play more con­fi­dence in the brands.

Con­cept cars of­ten sit on over­size wheels, but that’s not the case here. The al­loys them­selves are only 17 inches, but they look larger thanks to the flashes of yel­low play­ing tricks on the eye.

Tech-wise, the GT X is an all-elec­tric ve­hi­cle fit­ted with a 50kWh lithium-ion bat­tery and wire­less in­duc­tive charg­ing, which Vaux­hall

says is a nod to the brand’s fu­ture elec­tri­fi­ca­tion plans, start­ing with the Grand­land X PHEV in 2019 and Corsa EV in 2020, with the whole Vaux­hall car range even­tu­ally be­com­ing fully elec­tri­fied by 2024.

The cock­pit’s com­bi­na­tion of in­stru­ments and in­fo­tain­ment screen, dubbed Pure Panel, is pre­sented to the driver in one ob­long dis­play, with air vents sub­tly housed be­hind it and slim rearview screens in­stead of door mir­rors, show­ing im­ages from pop-out rear-view cam­eras.

The four seats, all mounted to the cen­tre con­sole rather than the floor, look like they’re float­ing, help­ing the in­te­rior feel airy.

So will any of this ac­tu­ally make pro­duc­tion? The new ‘vi­sor’ and ‘com­pass’ mo­tifs will start ap­pear­ing from 2020. Be­fore then, next year’s new Corsa will have some of the con­cept’s bold­ness and sim­plic­ity, says Adams, if not many of its de­tails.

Elec­tric con­cept won’t turn into a pro­duc­tion car, but its bold sim­plic­ity will char­ac­terise new Vaux­halls

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