Opel Monza, on a wing and a prayer

Opel, General Motors’ German division, has struggled with a stodgy, workaday image – and years of losses – but the slinky Monza concept should help push perception of the company towards the more contemporary end of the spectrum.

The primary way to shift perceptions, of course, is through styling, which Opel design chief Mark Adams has accomplished. The Monza’s surfaces reflect the lapping of waves on shore, Adams explained in Frankfurt, while the trim, arching midsection evokes the slim waist of a greyhound. Whatever the inspirations that begat the Monza, they served their purpose.

Lowering the entire passenger cabin by about 15mm gives the Monza a livable amount of headroom despite a low roofline. Standard, concept-issue, flip-up gullwing doors cut into that flat roof to provide a clear view of the plush cabin as the Monza pirouettes on its Frankfurt turntable.

Inside is an industry-first LED projection system that replaces conventional display monitors. No fewer than 18 LED projectors create a three-dimensional display of vehicle information atop the dashboard.

The Monza is imagined as a hybrid-electric, albeit one short on specifics. The system’s internal-combustion component is a just-announced 1-litre direct-injected turbocharged three-cylinder engine, outfitted to burn natural gas in place of gasoline for reduced CO2 emissions. The engine will have very real applications, however, and is envisaged as a direct competitor to Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost unit that has amassed so much award hardware this year.

There are no production plans for the Monza, but it does foreshadow Opel’s plans for escaping the company-car mould. “We have a clear vision of how Opel cars will be in the future and we have a clear strategy of how we will achieve this goal,” stated Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. “It embodies what our customers can expect from us within the next years.”