Special Coverage

Auto Show

PARIS – Adam Opel GmbH shows two new silhouettes of its Astra at the auto show here, the production station wagon version and a concept of a coming 3-door hatch.

“The (current) 5-door is selling very well,” says CEO Nick Reilly. “But in this segment, the station wagon is 25% (of the market), especially strong in Germany and the U.K.”

The GTC Paris is a simple foreshadowing of a successor to the 3-door Astra GTC, and the Astra Sports Tourer is the new station wagon model.

The GTC Paris uses a muscular design to show its intention to be a hot hatch, the type of car that sells well in the U.K. as a Vauxhall. The concept is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine, with stop/start technology and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

The twin turbo engine produces 290 hp. A limited slip differential on the front wheels helps control traction.

Opel calls the vehicle “an achievable dream car.”

The GTC Paris measures 175.5 ins. (446.0 cm) long, 1.5 ins. (4.0 cm) longer than the model it replaces. The 21-in. wheels with carbon-fiber inserts on the show car are almost certainly not part of the production version.

The Astra 5-door was introduced last year at the Frankfurt auto show. The previous-generation family also had a 4-door version and the Twin-Top coupe convertible.

Also on the stand was an Opel Meriva with new diesel engines, and the Opel Ampera extended-range electric car.

“We are expecting a good fourth quarter, with the Meriva going on sale,” Reilly says. “We said we were going to sell 1.2 million cars this year, and we will – or a little better, I hope.”

As for the Ampera, which will compete head-to-head with the Chevrolet Volt when it comes out next year, Reilly says, “I’m very bullish about electric vehicles.”

The Ampera and Volt have their own styling, but share virtually all powertrain, cost and driving characteristics.

Opel’s biggest news of September was probably at the IAA truck show in Hannover earlier in the month, when it unveiled a plug-in electric hybrid Vivaro e-Concept van with a range of 249 miles (400 km).

The Vivaro is a midsize vehicle that can haul a volume of 177 cu.-ft. (5 cu.-m) weighing 1,653 lbs. (750 kg), competing with the Ford Transit and Renault Trafic.

The 111-kW (149-hp) electric motor rated at 272 lb.-ft. (370 Nm) of torque would allow deliveries in central cities that one day are expected to ban internal-combustion engines.

The lithium-ion battery pack would offer a range of 62 miles (100 km). Electricity generated on-board by an internal-combustion generator would power the electric drive motors for another 186 miles (300 km), allowing travel between towns.

In addition to the Vivaro, Reilly says Opel/Vauxhall will offer an electric version of the new small car under development.

“Some of the skeptics are going to be proved wrong” about electric cars, he says. “Look at the billions of euros being spent in China, Japan and Korea on electric cars. If we don’t do it as well, they’ll come and take the European market away.”

Opel wants to expand its markets beyond Europe, and recently has signed distribution agreements in Chile and Israel, he says. “And we are looking at other significant markets like Australia and China.”