This is the Opel Manta GSe: a rear-drive EV with a manual 'box | Top Gear
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Thursday 5th October

This is the Opel Manta GSe: a rear-drive EV with a manual 'box

Welcome to the latest thing we never knew we always wanted

Published: 18 May 2021

Welcome to Opel’s fantastic new creation. Or old restoration. Or whichever blurring of those lines resulted in what you see before you. As you might be able to tell by the vintage-approved styling, this is designed to catch the tidal wave of popularity for restomods. It’s also electric. Gosh, if there was only a way to sum up all this information in a wilfully capitalised portmanteau for maximum nouveau-hipster cred. Ah, Opel already has. Meet the Manta GSe ElektroMOD.

Now, being a full EV, you’ll need a gearbox about as often as you’ll need to fill up with petrol. But this is the Manta, man, and if you think it’s going to be anywhere near as entertaining to fling around a rear-drive EV without rowing through a vintage-correct four-speed manual, we’re going to need to start up that Top Gear Reeducation Camp our old editor suggested back when crossovers started becoming a thing.

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And we actually think that manual gearboxes in electric cars is one of those ideas that sounds really dumb but actually works really well. Want to cruise? Slot it into fourth and loll about the place. Want to drive it like a Manta of days past? Easy – make full use of the vintage-correct 147bhp and 188lb ft by blasting through the gears. Whether your driving style is more Ari Vatanen or Til Schweiger is entirely up to your talents and... um, aspirations.

In good news, you’ll get about 120 miles of range from the 31kWh battery if you don’t drive like Vatanen – or indeed a Mantafahrer – but it’ll only take four hours to replenish your charge from a regular wall socket. Like the Corsa-e and Mokka-e, the Manta will also recover power from the brakes, too.

In less good news, the solid black front grille is apparently a billboard for such corporate-approved wit as “My German heart has been ELEKTRified”. But at least you’ll be inside, listening to the Manta’s Marshall-made stereo, sitting on brand new sports seats and in view of a pair of 10 and 12in digital widescreens, rather than reading such think-tank emetics as “I am on a zero e-mission”.

Given the concept car flights of fancy, you might well be wondering if this is actually going to be a thing that makes series production. It feels pretty unlikely at this stage, given how the modern car market is these days. Man, if only it were like it used to be...

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