The Experimental concept is a twin-motor AWD look at the future of Vauxhall-Opel | Top Gear
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The Experimental concept is a twin-motor AWD look at the future of Vauxhall-Opel

New concept car shines a path for Vauxhall and Opel's shiny new electric age

Published: 04 Sep 2023

Not a very imaginative name, but a striking car. This is Opel Experimental, a concept that's supposed to take Vauxhall-Opel's design into the electric age. It appeared today at the Munich motor show.

The Experimental shows how they can take advantage of the long wheelbase and short chin that a pure-electric platform allows.

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Head of design Mark Adams points to the newly shaped front visor, home to the sensors for assisted driving. A lit line down the bonnet's centre intersects with another horizontal one across the nose – he calls it the compass – and the same illuminated cross appears at the pert rear end.

The flat-top wheel-arches "push the car onto the road", quoth Adams. Air outlets behind the front wheels point to careful aero work, as do wheels with moving air flaps.

He also promises the interior will be "de-materialised", meaning airy and shorn of bulky structures, because the dash will use projected displays instead of hardware screens. However, the Experimental concept's cabin is literally dematerialised: it has blacked-out windows and no furniture. No doubt it'll be lovely when it's finished.

Designers come and go, but if Adams sees this into production it'll be the third full generation of Vauxhall-Opels he's had charge of.

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So is it a preview of a specific model – a new Manta maybe? Opel won't be drawn. CEO Florian Huettl says only that "it's a guiding light for Opel", and that you'll see elements of the design on "a generation" of future Opels and Vauxhalls. They start to arrive in 2025.

Opel-Vauxhall is of course part of the sprawling Stellantis conglomerate (see also Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Jeep, Alfa). And it uses the Group's upcoming medium-sized EV platform capable of about 430 miles WLTP range and ultra-fast recharging via 800V internal components.

The concept is two-motor AWD. Huettl says the hotted-up GSe line won't die with the electric-car takeover. "We will continue to do sporty, dynamic, luxury versions." But he specifically rules out madcap stuff like the old OPC – which was VXR in the UK.

There will be no new Vauxhall or Opel launched after 2025 with an engine option – they'll all be pure EV. But he emphasises that current combustion cars will continue after that date.

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Huettl needs to make electric cars cheaper if there are no petrol ones. For the all-electric Corsa replacement, due in 2027, that means a car below £22k in today's money.

"That means we can't over-size the car or over-spec it. We have to use the manufacturing economies of the Group. We must use cheap battery chemistry, and accept that 250 miles range is enough.

"We're confident we can get there." If it looks even a bit like the the Experimental, d'you fancy its chances? Comments below.

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