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The Opel Monza Concept

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On: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 10:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

The Opel Monza Concept

Automakers around the world have really opened up the flood gates. They're either teasing or full-on revealing the cars, trucks, and concepts that they plan to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in about three weeks. The latest concept car to come to our attention is the Monza from GM brand Opel/Vauxhall (we'll just say Opel from here on out), a sporty shooting brake built atop an evolution of the Ampera (Chevy Volt) plug-in hybrid platform.

When we first glanced at the Monza, its large, stretched cabin yelled "sporty station wagon." We thought someone had finally done it—managed to make a station wagon that actually makes people excited. Not quite. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that the Monza has only two doors and surely lacks a wagon-worth of passenger and cargo space inside. In fact, it seats only four. So in reality, the Monza is more of a sporty, two-door shooting brake.

What really catches our attention about the Monza, which shares its name with the original Opel Monza concept/Vauxhall Royale from the late 70s and early 80s, is the long, imposing glasshouse; it's like a seamless glass bubble pierced only by the shooting arches that stretch from just beyond the hood through the taillamps. The bulbous rear-end makes us wistful for the Porsche 929 from the 1980s. The concept is fronted by a clean, sporty face with scoop-like air intakes.

Opel takes Tesla Model X-like bird-wing doors to an even greater extreme, with massive double doors that rip open the flanks, letting both front and rear passengers in and out with ease. We think Opel could have called them "pterodactyl wings" if that wasn't so damn hard to spell (thank you, Google!). Instead, it compares them to a condor wings. While the interior doesn't offer the space of a station wagon, Opel says that it does offer an airy, open layout comparable in size to a mid-size sedan—not a bad thing for a car that looks so sporty. There're also 500 liters of trunk space.

The design caught our attention, but this isn't just a styling exercise. The Monza is all about futuristic technologies. The Frankfurt version is specced with a compressed natural gas, range-extending three-cylinder engine that assists an electric drive unit. Similar to the Chevy Volt's range-extending engine, powered only by affordable, low emissions compressed natural gas, the set-up is an intriguing look at a potential green driveline of the future. Opel also indicates that the Monza could be powered by alternative sources, including a fuel cell system.

Another interesting technological feature of the Monza is its LED projection system. Instead of your typical navigation display and instrument cluster, the Monza has a door-to-door blank-slate dashboard. A total of 18 LED projectors shoot all the usual information—engine data, navigation, smartphone connectivity, entertainment, etc.—onto the dashboard, creating a 3D display that the driver can customize with voice and steering wheel controls. In order to prevent the driver from being overwhelmed, information is displayed only when necessary or requested. Unfortunately, Opel has not shown what this LED projector display looks like.

Three connectivity modes allow the user to virtually cut off his smartphone (ME mode), communicate with select friends and family (US), and connect with the greater Web (ALL). An interesting example of how ALL can work is that the driver could upload his route and itinerary, allowing general Internet users to see it and wave him down for a ride.

The Monza concept doesn't appear headed anywhere near production, butDr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel/Vauxhall CEOsaid, "We have a clear vision of how Opel/Vauxhall 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. 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."

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