Vauxhall/Opel’s Monza Concept is set for its world premiere at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and with its launch hangs the expectations of a company which needs to raise its profile.
GM’s European brands, like Peugeot and Renault face an uncertain future as their middle-ground heartland is consumed from two fronts – the Korean upstarts which have rapidly eaten their lunch and luxury brands like BMW and Audi who’ve brought their premium compact formula to the masses.
The only escape for brands like Vauxhall and Opel is to innovate, differentiating their cars from norm and earning back the kudos which previously allowed them to charge a premium.
Enter the revolutionary Monza Concept. Beyond the usual concept car design aesthetic, it previews two significant innovations; a cutting-edge LED projection infotainment system and an evolution of the Ampera’s hybrid powertrain.
“The Monza Concept represents the Opel/Vauxhall car of tomorrow,” said Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel/Vauxhall CEO.
“On one hand, it embodies everything that already characterises Opel/Vauxhall – precision engineering combined with innovative technologies wrapped in captivating design. In addition, it addresses the themes that will be the development-focus of the next generation of Opel/Vauxhall cars: maximum connectivity and optimum efficiency.”
The Monza Concept is based on the trend for increasing electrification of the automobile in everyday driving, from range-extender to fuel cell, to futuristic connectivity.
Using state-of-the-art LED projection technology, the Monza Concept no longer uses separate monitors that display different information, instead the wide sculpted dashboard functions as a single projection surface. Information is displayed from door to door, which the driver can customise according to their needs.
A total of 18 LED projectors create a continuous, adaptable multi-functional display much like the projection mapping spectacles seen at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert and this year’s Tour de France closing ceremony.
To avoid overwhelming the driver and distracting their focus, information only appears when necessary or desired and can be configured via voice or steering wheel controls.
The Monza Concept’s smartphone-based connectivity operates in three modes – ME, US and ALL – depending on how widespread and interactive the communication should be. Ultimately it previews Vauxhall/Opel’s “Car-to-Car” and “Car-to-X” philosophy, connecting road users, sharing information such as dangerous traffic situations and setting out the prerequisites for future autonomous driving.
The Monza Concept’s powertrain uses electric drive with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender – a further development of the Ampera’s technology. A new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 SIDI turbo – which also makes its premiere at Frankfurt – takes on the task of range extender using natural gas instead of petrol.
Design wise, the Monza Concept reflects the company’s near-term future direction. The prototype is 4.69 metre-long, 1.31 metres high and with a 500 litre luggage compartment. It seats four, but with the flexibility offered by its electric-hybrid powertrain this could easily be extended.
In fact, sitting 150 millimetres lower than a conventional model, the Monza Concept offers the same sized passenger compartment as a mid-size C-sector car.
While the design may seem revolutionary, the focus as far as Vauxhall/Opel are concerned is on the efficiency and connectivity which it showcases. Whether we’ll see it as a future production model is unknown, but the signs are good and the company will be gauging people’s reactions when it’s on display at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.