Present, Future And Past On Vauxhall's Motor Show Stand

  • First UK sighting of Meriva
  • Fuel cell car of tomorrow
  • VX220 based Eco-Speedster -- with a diesel engine!
  • Largest range of sporty models on the grid

British motorists will be able to see Vauxhall's cars for tomorrow, as well as for today, at the British International Motor Show which opens at the NEC, Birmingham, on 23 October.

As the automotive industry moves into its second century at its fastest pace ever, tomorrow's personal transport will be represented on Vauxhall's stand in Hall 1 by one of a number of futuristic concept vehicles from parent company General Motors.

A final decision will not be made until shortly before the show as to which of the concept vehicles - all specifically developed to point the way forward to hydrogen power - will appear.

The NEC will also see the premiere of the Vauxhall Concept S - just named as Eco-Speedster - the sports car-based concept with a diesel engine that has returned 113 miles per gallon in recent tests!

Ahead of the giant fuel-cell leap in the way car engines are powered, the whole concept of the motor car is constantly evolving.

So Vauxhall's first new car of 2003, the mini-MPV Meriva, will graphically demonstrate how within a few years, 40 per cent of all Vauxhall cars will have moved away from saloon and hatchback and estate into something far more radical, far more trendsetting and innovative.

With five seats adjustable in dozens of ways, Meriva is set to follow the award-winning progress of its larger seven-seater Zafira family member with an interior package equally as skilful as that of Zafira's "now you see them - now you don't" disappearing rear seating system.

Meriva, on sale late next spring, will generate a lot of excitement in the class just below the Zafira.

It will be debut time, too, for Vauxhall's fastest-yet Astra, a three-door 2.0 litre turbo GSi, that complements the award-winning SRi versions of Astra but brings with it even more performance. That means a 150 mph top speed and suspension finely tuned for road holding to match.

Eye-catching is an understatement for the Linea Rossa Astra 2.2 litre convertible, a special edition that makes exciting use of red leather and matching red trim. This is in turn a perfect match for the exterior paintwork, and produces a stunning version of the already attractive convertible. There is also a Linea Rossa version of the Astra Coupe.

Vauxhall's success in producing LPG powered cars and vans to take advantage of cheap, environmentally friendly fuel has ensured its lead in the dualfuel marketplace. Examples at the Motor Show will be the new Vectra with a 1.8 litre dualfuel engine and a Combo Dualfuel van.

Dualfuel Vectra is bound to attract attention as the understanding of cheaper Vehicle Excise Duty, 50 per cent more miles for your money, lower tax for dualfuel company car users and exemption from London's congestion charging scheme from next February become more widely known and appreciated.

The New Vectra, launched in June, will have the spotlight firmly set on the eight models on display. Leading the parade will be the top-of-the-range 3.2 litre V6 GSi, all lowered suspension and unique platinum-effect interior with 154 mph under your right foot.

Alongside GSi and performance stablemate SRi, Vectras include examples of the powerful yet economical 2.2 DTi turbo diesels, plus Elite, Elegance and SXi trim levels.

The Vauxhall Zafira family is represented by four differently-engined versions, from 1.8 litre to 2.2 litre via the same 2.0 litre turbo as installed in Astra. But the family will be keen to take a close look at the Zafira DVD system where teeny tantrums will be a thing of the past.

The AutoVision DVD mobile cinema is centered round a video unit integrated into the roof of the Zafira so that it does not interfere with the driver's rear view.

Those in second and third row seats in the versatile family transporter can watch films on a seven inch colour screen, and can also choose whether to listen to music together via the car's speakers or separately, through headphones. Biggest boon: no more teeny tantrums on long journeys!

Lightning yellow paintwork and black leather upholstery combine to make the VX220 a "wow". And while another example of the sports car in silver with mulberry red leather is slightly muted visually, its staggeringly nippy performance is unchanged.

Vauxhall continues to lead the pack of mainstream manufacturers in the number and sophistication of sports models to show that a car that sells in tens of thousands does not need to be perceived as pedestrian.

So alongside the sporty Astras and Vectras, Zafiras and VX220s, the Omega MV6 flies the flag for performance and comfort in the executive class.

Omega is offered with a choice of four engines. Inside is smart airbag technology, a combined audio-satellite navigation system and electronic climate control, all bringing stress-free, executive driving in the kind of luxury more often associated with far more expensive cars.

Town runabout Agila is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 off-roader that finds itself equally at home in a country town as in workhorse mode out on the Yorkshire Moors in January.

And to complete the picture of 100 years of Vauxhall Motors - 2003 is the centenary - the 1903 two-seater 5 horsepower from the company's Heritage Centre in Luton is scheduled to make an appearance at the show.

Price then: 130 guineas or £136.50

Price of today's least expensive car: just £6995 for the Agila or Corsa Expression.

Remarkably the 1903 car would cost today just a bit more at £7,507.50!

::There will be fun for visitors to the show when they climb into a Vauxhall Frontera (with a professionally qualified instructor) to live life on the Edge - the Edge being the towering 30ft high metal structure that demonstrates the versatility of the 4x4. If you are lucky (!) you might get to be driven to the top of the Edge backwards. That means you also come back to earth backwards as well.

Published 17 September 2002 Melanie Carter

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