Wim Oude Weernink traces the genesis of a new Opel production model, describing its antecedents, as well as the design team’s preliminary explorations and the creation of the definitive model. The car in question is the Opel Meriva which will be launched at the next Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris. Every element on the M concept which has now been developed into the Meriva production model was designed from scratch, being based on an original concept for a car that did not exist. All the designers had to go on was the Zafira of which they were to have borrowed the floorpan, just cutting 25 cm off its length. That, they found, would have cost too much, so Opel decided to combine the compact front section of the new Corsa with part of the Astra/Zafira floorpan.
Apart from these advantages they hoped to derive from exploiting available synergies, the M concept was to be completely original. The aim was to create a characterful look, inside and out. On the finished car, the big wheels and faired wheelarches enhance the car’s dynamic look and while they necessarily impact on the interior space, both the M concept and the Meriva boast cabins as innovatively designed as their bodywork. On that exterior, the rectangular front lighting clusters are clearly inspired by the latest Vectra, while the overall design effect is distinctly Opel.
The M Concept was built by Bertone where Opel retain a permanent work station manned by one expert designer and one trainee. By contrast, the Meriva, which differs only in minor details, particularly on the front bumper area, from the concept car, was largely developed and engineered by GM do Brasil, since Rüsselsheim was too busy with other projects.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 134