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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  March 06, 2002


 


World Premiere At The 2002 Geneva Motor Show; Opel 'Concept M' - Spacious, Sporty Van Study

Concept M

Photo: Automotive Intelligence

  • The Zafira formula - compact exterior, long wheelbase, roomy interior
  • Natural gas turbo for high performance and low emissions
  • Advanced cockpit concept with PDA minicomputer, DVD system in rear

Geneva - Opel's dynamically styled design study 'Concept M' celebrates its world premiere at this year's Geneva Motor Show, giving visitors an insight into a new class of monocab van. At a height of 1.62 meters and with a wheelbase that, at 2630 mm, is 16 mm longer than that of the Astra station wagon, Concept M has an extremely spacious interior for four passengers.

Despite its compact exterior dimensions, it offers considerable potential for innovative interior solutions in the future. Fueled by natural gas, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine generates 110kW/150hp, conveyed to the front wheels via Opel's 'Easytronic' automated manual transmission. This advanced, environmentally compatible powertrain gives the four-seater van its impressive, sporty performance. "Concept M is a direct descendent of pioneering studies like the fresh, youthful Frogster, or the luxurious, elegant Signum2," says Opel Chairman and Managing Director, Carl-Peter Forster. "Like the Zafira, it underlines the creativity of our engineers and designers in the development of new and innovative products."

Opel Director of Design chief Hans Seer adds, "The exterior appearance of the Concept M borrows from the styling that worked so well on the Signum2. The striking plexiglas headlamps derive from the new Vectra GTS." Dynamism is further signaled by colored brake calipers and muscular wheel arches. The extra-wide 17-inch wheels are equipped with 225 R 45 tires. The conspicuous full-width, third brake light along the top of the rear window signals how hard the brakes have been applied in three brightness levels. The chrome strip across the tailgate echoes the design of the all-new Vectra .

At a length of 4.05 m and a width of 1.78 m, the Concept M is easy to park and maneuver. "The ample interior room is due to the long wheelbase of 2630 mm," says Gerhard Mathes, manager of the Concept M project. "But this front-wheel-drive car requires a minimum of space in traffic," he adds. The high seating position makes it easy to step in and out of the car and provides excellent all-around visibility for driver and front passenger.

Ample Room and High Interior Comfort

The bright interior with high-quality materials is equipped with four comfortable, well-formed individual seats. All four passengers enjoy as much shoulder room as in many a midsize sedan. Entering the vehicle is easy: the doors pop open via a push-button mechanism on the handles.

The load area is as spacious as the passenger compartment. If configured to seat four, the vehicle can load an additional 380 liters, more than a conventional compact vehicle. With the rear seats flipped down, the load capacity increases to 880 liters. The 30-cm wide overhead console and the integrated center console offer additional storage space. The overhead console houses reading lamps and the 'AutoVision' entertainment system with a DVD player (Digital Versatile Disc) for films as well as audio and data CDs. The DVD system fits neatly into the console and poses no obstacle to the driver's view of the rear or use of the rearview mirror. The high-quality 7-inch (18 cm) TFT screen (Thin Film Transistor ) displays images in high resolution and brilliant true color. The monitor descends to head level and its angle can be adjusted at the touch of a button. When not in use, it is easily retracted and securely fastened.

And there are more clever and flexible interior features: In an element borrowed from the Signum2, the variable center console extends into multi-purpose aluminum tracks between driver and passenger with holders for cups, utensils or even a personal computer.

Powerful CNG Powertrain - High Performance, Low Emissions

The Concept M powertrain is just as sophisticated as the design. The 1.6-liter ECOTEC engine runs on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and generates 110kW/150hp. Ingo Janthur, the powertrain engineer responsible for the development of the CNG engine, says, "This is an ideal combination. The turbocharger makes up for the low fill ratio inherent to natural gas engines." The advantages include higher immunity to knock, which allows higher compression levels. The 16V ECOTEC with integrated turbo system is boosted at 0.92 bar and displays excellent flexibility throughout the performance range. The maximum torque of 205 Nm is already available at 1980 rpm, and a high level of 200 Nm is maintained throughout the range from 1950 rpm to 5000 rpm. In other words, this engine always has sufficient power in reserve.

The power generated by the Concept M's 1.6-liter turbo engine is conveyed to the front wheels via the five-speed 'Easytronic' automated manual transmission. The design study features additional selectors on the steering wheel, making it even easier to change gears. The Concept M can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh in just 9.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 202 kmh. The dynamic performance does not come at the expense of the environment, however. While optimized for natural gas operation, the CNG engine can also run on normal fuel. Its emission of 145 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer is 30 percent below the levels of a comparable gasoline engine.

(March 5, 2002)

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