Learn from your mistakes, GM. Build this car.
There was a time when GM was the king of the car world. Big cars ruled at this time, and GM went right on and continued this trend. This hurt the company when fuel prices skyrocketed and the only small cars it had were lame attempts at bettering the fleet’s average fuel economy ratings. Now the SUV craze is back in full swing, and the only non-trucks of any relevance that GM makes are muscle cars. This is why when Americans think of GM, they envision big SUVs, burbling pushrod V8s, and often lame crossovers.
If GM wants to weather another potential storm of high gas prices and lowered consumer spending, it needs to re-brand itself as a company that does it all, not just the oversized. That’s why GM needs to bring the small Opel GT Concept that it debuted at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show to life. When GM decided to bring the GT concept from the drawing board to the concept car room, it gave the car an Opel badge to indicate that it would likely be a Europe-only vehicle. If GM wises up and makes the car, it would be smart on its part to keep selling the car in Europe under Opel. Just like the re-branded Holden Commodore makes its way to the US under the Chevy SS moniker, the Opel GT can also come stateside and morph into a Chevy or a Cadillac.
By keeping the turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, the car would sip fuel like it’s on a diet but pack an ample 145 horsepower capable of making the Mazda MX-5 Miata of a Scion FR-S break a sweat. Front engine and rear-wheel drive architecture would make the two-seater a true sports car for young buyers on a budget or 45-year olds who want to have their mid-life crisis in something other than a Mazda. A turbocharged four-cylinder or even a six-cylinder could be featured on SS-badged Chevy variants or V-status Cadillac versions. For the Chevy, trim would be basic and cheap, using a superb chassis and zippy feel to justify the car's existence. Like the Miata, focus would be on driver enjoyment rather than a full range of creature comforts.
On the other hand, the Cadillac would have leather as standard as well as a host of other luxury features like heated seats, high-tech infotainment systems, and premium sound systems. Priced under the Chevy Camaro or as a cheaper option for ATS-V buyers, the GT concept could capture emotional buyers who would otherwise settle for more logical choices. Sales aside, GM needs this car. Cadillac has made leaps and bounds to show the world that GM is capable of making a quality car that feels right and can compete around the world. However as fuel prices begin to slide and sales of crossovers and SUVs spike, GM is at risk of sliding back into its old habit of making large cars while neglecting the small.
A flagship small car would prove to the world that the company has learned from its mistakes and is moving forwards in a responsible manner. If another double tap combo of a fuel crisis and economic meltdown happen, then GM could be cushioned by the GT concept. Not that the car would sell in overwhelmingly high amounts during a crash, but the lessons that GM learns from making a small, light, and efficient car with a drastically downsized engine could translate well to other cars. Additional squeezing of fuel economy standards from government regulators could also be negated with the GT. Besides, we kind of miss the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, and the GT concept is the perfect replacement for these missing pieces.