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Opel AG: Opel Speedster 2000

Lightweight, 147 hp, mid-engined sports car on the road this fall

Making its world debut at the 70th Geneva International Motor Show 2000, the Opel Speedster is the essence of pure driving excitement. Powered by a new, 2.2-liter, aluminum ECOTEC engine with 108 kW/147 hp, the lightweight, two-seater sports car races from 0 to 100 km/h in under six exhilarating seconds and on to a top speed of 220 km/h.

Enthusiasts will relish the Speedster's exceptionally responsive steering and sure-footed cornering, made possible by the mid-engined configuration and aluminum sports chassis with independent, double wishbone suspension at all four wheels. The clean, technical styling of the composite body is a poignant outward expression of the Speedsterīs sporting prowess.


"The Speedster is the natural conclusion of our philosophy of creating an unadulterated sports car," says Dr. Doris Bernhardt, who headed the Speedster project at Opelīs International Technical Development Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany. "Every decision hinged on the same question: Will this make the Speedster a more dynamic drive?" As a result, the open two-seater has a roll-over bar, ABS, a driver-side airbag and seat-belt tensioners as a matter of course but is unburdened by conveniences like power steering, air conditioning, seat warmers or central locking - features that would add weight and clash with its uncompromising character.

The production version of the Speedster features the same taut surfaces, muscular wheel arches and sheer flanks as its concept car predecessor, presented to great acclaim in Geneva only a year ago. Integrated into the carīs body, the sculpted, three-dimensional headlamps and tail lights are as striking as the large air intake ducts behind the doors - which provide additional engine cooling - and the two vertically arranged exhaust pipes. Director of Design, Hans Seer, describes the Speedster as "Opelīs first production car to bring to life the technically oriented design language we demonstrated on the G90 and Zafira Snowtrekker concepts".

Inside, the two-seater Speedster confirms its uncompromisingly sporty character with a high-tech look and feel. The dominating feature is the visible aluminum chassis. Instruments are kept to the bare essentials with two dials - a revolution counter and a speed gauge - and LCD displays which are activated when needed. Sculpted sports seats are complemented by a leather steering wheel, aluminum gear knob and a starter button, all of which underline the Speedsterīs purist personality. The optional leather interior is available in black, blue, red or beige.

The fold-away roof of the Speedster is easy to handle and, stowed away in a special bag, fits neatly behind the seats. A silver-colored hard-top is available as an option. The Speedsterīs trunk, located behind the engine, is larger than it looks from the outside with enough space (206 liters) for two peopleīs weekend luggage.

The Speedster's bonded aluminum chassis guarantees exceptionally high torsional rigidity despite the carīs low weight - a pre-condition for precise control. Composite crash structures ensure optimal crash worthiness in case of a frontal or side impact. An integrated, steel roll-over bar provides additional protection. The Speedsterīs powerful engine and its kerb weight of only around 850 kilograms combine to give Opelīs newcomer top-of-the-class specific performance figures of 5.8 kg/hp and 4.2 kg/Nm.

The compactly dimensioned, composite body (length x width x height: 3790 x 1711x 1112 millimeters) rides on double wishbone suspension. Advanced geometry and compliance tuning optimizes wheel control to maximize grip and handling performance. The Speedsterīs high-speed cornering capabilities are further enhanced by its wide track (1450 mm at the front, 1488 at the rear), its low center of gravity and precise steering. Four ventilated, 288-millimeter disc brakes provide excellent deceleration. ABS is standard. The Speedsterīs 17-inch-diameter aluminum wheels (5.5" and 7.5" wide at the front and rear respectively) retain the striking, five-spoke design seen on the 1999 concept and carry specially developed Bridgestone Potenza tires (175/55 at the front, 225/45 R17 at the rear).

Low weight combined with high performance is the essence of the Speedster's powertrain, too. A 2.2-liter, four cylinder engine from the new aluminum ECOTEC family - which will premiere in Europe in the Astra Coupé - also powers the Speedster. The engine is constructed from aluminum alloy and weighs a mere 138 kilograms. It produces 108 kW (147hp) at 5800 rpm with a maximum torque figure of 203 Nm, whereby 90 percent of this is available at 1800 rpm. According to the MVEG standard the Speedster's fuel consumption is around eight liters per 100km and it also complies with the future Euro IV emissions standard. The transmission is the compact, new, five-speed gearbox with cable-operated shift first seen on the 1999 Vectra.

Production of the Opel Speedster will begin this summer at the Hethel plant (near Norwich, England) of the British sports car manufacturer, Lotus. The limited-edition two-seater goes on sale this fall.

February 29, 2000

Photos: Opel

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