What we have here, then, is a three-door, four-seat coupe, its wide-opening tailgate neatly disguised within the flowing lines down to the rear bumper. Launched in 1989, the Calibra was sold in the UK for the best part of 10 years, although it’s rare to see one now – especially anything as nice as this extremely low mileage example from Vauxhall’s heritage fleet.
Chevrolet has only released a teaser photo of the redesigned 2016 Spark minicar so far, but the final product has been hiding in plain sight as the Opel Karl that debuted at the Geneva auto show. The Chevrolet version will have a slightly different look with its brand-specific fascias, but the European-market Karl otherwise provides a good preview of the U.S.-market Spark we’ll see at the New York auto show in a few weeks.
However, Opel Team Joest was in for a tough fight. Not only had Alfa Romeo not been sitting on their hands, Mercedes-Benz had finally found the time to build a proper Class 1 car. Although the C180 V6 DTM lacked four wheel drive and only produced 400 horsepower, it featured a 6-speed sequential transmission, F1-derived active suspension, an innovative active ballast system which counteracted the pitching and diving of the nose under acceleration and braking and an all-carbon bodyshell bringing weight down to 980 kg (2161 lbs).
^ General Motors Austria Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMA, founded 1963 as sales organisation; from 1979: Administration, Non-productive Departments an Sales) and General Motors Austria Werke Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMAW founded 1979; Production). In November 1987 GMAW (Austrian Handelsregister, HRB 24.436) were merged into GMA (HRB 20.133b, actual Firmenbuch FN 110500a).
Unlike the previous model, there was no saloon version for the European market, but one was designed in Brazil for the Latin American market, as saloons were much preferred to hatchbacks there. This was also introduced in South Africa and India. An estate car, panel van and pickup truck were also introduced, and a convertible version was produced for the Australian market, called the Holden Barina Cabrio.
Rüsselsheim. The eagerly-awaited new Opel Corsa GSi has arrived! After the Insignia, the Corsa is the second GSi model now on offer. The newcomer impresses with its ultra-precise OPC chassis – for exemplary handling and short braking distances. The Corsa GSi is powered by Opel’s lively 1.4-liter turbo with 110 kW/150 hp and 220 Nm of torque (fuel consumption l/100 km: 8.0-7.7 urban, 5.5-5.1 extra-urban, 6.4-6.0 combined, CO2 g/km 147-138 combined). The four-cylinder power unit features a special GSi-calibration for increased responsiveness. Mated to a short-ratio, six-speed gearbox, the engine delivers outstanding punch in second and third gears, as well as a maximum torque plateau from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm.
The handling and ride are basically fine, but are all but invisible from the point of view of a keen driver. The Crossland is tidy through corners, with reasonable steering weight but no actual feedback, and the body tilts over only to a reasonable angle. The ride is a touch stiff in its damping, especially around town (which is disappointing, given that any Crossland will probably spend most of its life in town) but it does improve on the open road. Refinement is only average though with quite a bit of wind and road noise. There’s little point in having Opel’s phone-based OnStar concierge service fitted if you can’t hear what the operator is saying . . .
The case of the Saab Calibra is one I'm glad didn't pan out, but I wish the car had made it here somehow. Even weirder than this was a plan to sell the Opel Senator through Porsche dealers in the late '80s, after GM's dealers were uninterested because their lots were full of Park Avenues and didn't need another luxo-barge competing. Strange, too, since the company was willing to sell that car as an Opel until the cost of importing became too strong. That likely killed the math for sending the Calibra here, too.
After the Second World War the Soviet Union requested the tooling from the Opel Rüsselsheim car plant in the American occupation zone as part of the war reparations agreed by the victorious powers, to compensate for the loss of the production lines for the domestic KIM-10-52 in the siege of Moscow. Faced with a wide range of German "small litrage" models to choose from, Soviet planners wanted a car which closely followed the general type of the KIM – a 4-door sedan with all-metal body and 4-stroke engine. They therefore rejected both the rear-engined, two-door KdF-Wagen (future VW Beetle) and the two-stroke powered, front-wheel-drive, wooden-bodied DKW F8, built by the Auto Union Chemnitz plant in the Soviet occupation zone. The closest analog of the KIM to be found was the 4-door Kadett K38.
The 114bhp 1.0-litre engine fires to a near-silent idle, and in general it’s responsive and keen. It revs willingly, and such is the quietness and consistency of output that there are times while cruising when you could be in any of, say, three gears and you wouldn’t notice much difference in either noise or throttle response. It drives as standard through a six-speed gearbox that is occasionally notchy but otherwise positive.
While the Ipanema clearly succeeded the Marajó, production of the Chevette (by now in sedan form only, the hatchback having been discontinued after the 1987 model year) and of the Kadett noticeably overlapped; the newer model was placed above the old one in Chevrolet's lineup. While Chevrolet entertained the possibility of a pick-up version of the Kadett E, it never materialized.