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Opel GT Concept proves GM still has affordable sports cars on the brain

Opel's dynamic little GT Concept has wowed the Geneva auto show, but does it have a shot at seeing showrooms?

The Opel GT Concept seen here probably won't reach production, but it's still important, if only because it illustrates that General Motors is still actively thinking about small sports cars. If the GT Concept is a fair representation of the automaker's line of thinking, it's easy to like where the company's head is at. Look beyond the GT Concept's multi-hued show-car paint and the Automoblox-like colored tires, and what you're left with is a cleanly surfaced little rear-wheel-drive coupe with a lot to recommend it.

GM proudly notes that the GT Concept is a "direct descendant of the Opel GT." The original Opel GT, if you can't immediately recall it, was a tiny sports car nicknamed "the baby Corvette" dating back to the late '60s and early '70s that was sold through Buick dealers in the US. The nameplate was later revived from 2007 to 2010 using a version of the Saturn Sky roadster.

It's that Saturn Sky connection that has us thinking of that model's Pontiac Solstice twin, a car that shares this concept's voluptuous aesthetic. That model was briefly available in a similar fixed-head coupe model briefly before GM's bankruptcy.

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The Opel GT concept's clean surfacing and rounded features helps it look both compact and powerful.

Josh Miller/Roadshow

While Opel designers may be keeping past sports-car glories on their minds, the Concept GT is a fully modern proposition, with a version of the tiny 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine found in several of Opel's front-wheel-drive economy cars. Backed by a six-speed sequential gearbox and a locking mechanical differential, the GT promises entertaining dynamics, with emphasis on sharp handling through low weight (under 2,200 pounds) over outright acceleration (0-62 mph is quoted as just under eight seconds).

It's not often that a mainline automaker publicly experiments with a lightweight, low-powered driver car -- the superlative Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the only such cars available -- but they're easy to love. Here's hoping GM considers producing something like the Opel GT in the future.

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