Crossing Over With GM

April 12th, 2007

Do psychologists have a name for the delusion that Bob Lutz is listening to you? Because I was a little startled by the announcement that GM plans to use the Opel Corsa platform as a basis for a series of small eco-friendly crossover vehicles. I’ve been talking up the Corsa for a while–the zippy little hatchback/mini-SUV/people-mover/whatever you want to call it has an instant visual appeal that matches its environmentalist street cred.

Opel Corsa OPC

You want one, don’t you? I know I do. Well, there’s good news for me and everyone else in North America who thought that our car-crush would go unrequited.

First, Bob Lutz seems a lot more bullish on the notion that the Corsa will be produced and marketed as a Saturn offering. Over the last six months, there’s been a lot of speculation about this, and the statements from GM have ranged from “never” to “maybe in five years” to “we’re working on it right now.”

Second, even if this incarnation of the Corsa doesn’t make it to dealers’ lots in the US, it’s clear that the underlying concept (and the engineering platform) is getting a lot of attention at GM. And it should: the Corsa offers the advantages of compact crossovers like the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris, but with a whole lot more power and style.

As I said in my earlier piece on the Corsa, it seems like a no-brainer to me that an energy-efficient, eco-friendly vehicle with a roomy cabin, a powerful engine, nimble handling, and a bunch of sporty touches would be huge in the US market. And the Corsa is just so cool! It’s not a boxy old mini-van or a giant juggernaut SUV; it’s a car that looks like it would be fun to drive.

Okay, I’m pretty sure that Bob Lutz isn’t actually listening to me. A Corsa-based line of small-but-mighty vehicles is an idea whose time has come, and lots of people have seen this. As gas prices go higher, and air-quality regulations get tighter, the US market is going to get more and more like the European market, where the Corsa (and its Vauxhall twin) are already a huge success. It’s good to know that the people at GM are paying attention, though.

Of course, if Mr. Lutz is reading this…can I have dibs on the first Corsa off the line? A red one, if it’s not too much trouble?

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