Opel’s stunning GT Concept marks the return of the baby Corvette after a 45-year hiatus

General Motors’ Germany-based Opel division has taken the wraps off the GT concept at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show.

The GT Concept incorporates a handful of heritage-laced styling cues, including a pair of round exhaust tips, a feature inspired by the Experimental GT concept that was introduced at the 1965 edition of the Frankfurt show. However, it doesn’t wear a full-on retro-styled design like the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Beetle. Instead, the futuristic-looking coupe boasts a front end that falls in line with the recent Monza concept, and a head-turning gray, red, and black paint job that neatly incorporates the side windows.

Opel has further accented the sleek look by replacing the mirrors with cameras integrated into the front wheel arches, and by swapping out the door handles with small touch pads incorporated into the red stripe. The company explains the red front tires are a homage to the Motoclub 500, a motorcycle introduced in 1928, though what purpose they actually serve — beyond helping the concept stand out — is anyone’s guess at this point.

Under the long hood is a front-mid-mounted 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine borrowed from the Adam, a pocket-sized city car aimed right at the Fiat 500. The turbo three sends 145 horsepower to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox. The benchmark sprint from zero to 60 mph takes less than eight seconds, and max speed is reached at 133 mph.

Officially, the GT Concept merely hints at the direction that Opel’s design department will take in the coming years, but there could be more to it than that. German magazine Auto Bild believes the concept also previews a production-bound coupe that will replace the slow-selling Astra GTC. The model will pay homage to the original GT that was billed as a baby Corvette when it was introduced in Europe in 1968, and not to the short-lived second-generation GT that was sold on our side of the pond as the Saturn Sky.

Opel will offer the GT with gasoline- and diesel-burning three- and four-cylinder engines. A six-cylinder won’t be part of the lineup for efficiency and packaging reasons, but a range-topping, OPC-badged model powered by a high-performance four-banger tuned to deliver 300 horsepower will join the lineup a little later in the production run. The original GT was rear-wheel drive, but the new model will be built on the same platform as the brand new Astra for cost reasons, so it’s likely that all versions will have to settle for front-wheel drive.

If Auto Bild’s sources are correct, the production version of the Opel GT will be presented in 2018 to commemorate the original model’s 50th anniversary. The German car maker hasn’t commented on the rumor, and we’ll gain a better idea of what the future holds during the Geneva show.

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