Opel’s Experimental concept gets ‘follow-me’ sat-nav and pared-back styling

Clean styling and no chrome for the crossover-coupe concept car

Opel's Experimental concept

Opel has revealed a crossover-coupe concept car to give us an idea of what the next generation of Opels will look like.

The Experimental isn’t a direct preview of a new production car. Although it’s built around the dimensions of Opel’s upcoming new all-electric platform (shared with other Stellantis Group brands, of course), this isn’t some thinly disguised new car masquerading as a concept.

Rather, it’s a concept in the true sense of the word – a bit of stylistic kite-flying to get potential customers excited about a new Opel styling language, as well as to gauge reactions to the new look.

For a new look, it’s quite evolutionary – you can see quite a bit of the current Mokka in the overall shape, for example – but there is some newness in the pared-back styling, and the curved rear end which looks a touch like the old 1960s Opel GT coupe.

Opel's Experimental concept

Meanwhile, the grille is new. The overall shape is familiar, but Opel is going to, bit by bit, abandon its current all-black “Vizor” grille, which was originally designed so that driving aid sensors and cameras could be hidden behind it. Those components have now been shrunk down to invisibility, so the Experimental gets a glass-like grille that’s more open, and which is also backlit. The Opel “Blitz” badge is also backlit now, which is currently illegal for road cars in the EU, but which will be legalised by the time any production Opels with that feature hit the road in 2025.

It’s not the only thing that’s backlit – the crease that runs along the middle of the bonnet and which continues into the front bumper, below the badge, also gets its own backlighting. That might be harder to make production-feasible, but it’s part of Opel’s commitment to ditch chrome trim. The production of chrome is likely to be banned in the near future, over fears surrounding cancer-causing chemicals and pollution from the process. Opel, along with most carmakers, is phasing chrome out, and will replace it with “exterior lighting and bold contrasting graphics”.

The door mirrors have also been replaced with 180-degree rear facing cameras mounted on the rear pillars. If they detect a car in your blind spot, the whole door panel on that side of the Experimental will flash red.

The rest of the interior is really pared back and uncluttered. In fact, Opel has done away with big screens altogether, and instead is using holographic projections and a massive heads-up display. There is a small “Pure Pad” control panel just by the driver’s right hand (or left hand, once this feature appears in right-hand drive) that has configurable buttons for major functions. The steer-by-wire steering means that the steering wheel can fold away when you don’t need it – Opel is clearly courting the potential of autonomous driving.

Opel's Experimental concept

One really neat feature is the sat-nav, which instead of using augmented reality arrows to point you down the right road, instead projects a digitised version of the gorgeous 1970s Opel Manta Elektromod EV conversion on to the screen in front of you, and you just follow that.

The Experimental won’t become a production car in its own right, but Opel has two key new cars arriving in the next couple of years upon which it will wield much influence – those are the new Grandland, due next year in fully-electric form as well as with hybrid power, and the revival of the Manta name, which sadly won’t be a muscular 2+2 coupe, but instead a four-door crossover coupe that will be larger than this Experimental concept.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring