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Opel TriXX concept car

Broadcast date : 11th April 2004

Opel caused a minor sensation with its city car concept at this year's Geneva Motor Show.

Called the TRIXX, it showcased a range of exciting packaging ideas for Opel's cars of the future and no doubt many of them will be emulated by other manufacturers.

In fact one of the ideas in the TRIXX has so excited Opel's management that the company has taken out a patent on this idea - an inflatable rear seat.

The TRIXX measures just 3,0 metres in length, which is not that astounding, considering that the Smart, built by Mercedes-Benz and already seen on our roads, is only a fraction over 2,5 metres long.

But the stubby Smart is a pure two-seater, whereas TRIXX is design to carry three adults and a child, or to double as utility vehicle with up to a thousand litres of interior space.

The TRIXX is fitted with three doors - two for the passenger side of the vehicle and one for the driver's side, which open in an ingenious sliding fashion.

Dubbed  "pantograph" doors by Opel, as the hinging mechanism is similar to the device connecting electric trains to overhead power sources, the doors enable entry and exit in extremely tight spots.

And unlike sliding doors used on MPV's, there is no rail slot for the doors to run.

The seating arrangement is extremely flexible. The front passenger seat can be folded away completely into the floor of the TRIXX, and it is reinforced to enable the loading of heavy objects on top of it.

The rear passenger seat is inflated by means of an on-board compressor. To trigger its inflation the rear headrest is raised into position which automatically triggers its inflation.

To deflate the seat a vacuum pump is used, and this is activated by pushing the headrest into the stowage position.

An unusual feature for a car of this size is that it dispenses with the traditional hatchback door or tailgate.

Instead the rear window glass slides into the rear body panel, while the glass sunroof slides forward to enable the loading of long or tall bulky objects through this gap in the roof and rear window area.

The passenger side doors, which slide a long way from the centre line of the car, also offer plenty of room for loading large objects.

As a final touch in the versatility department, a drawer-like loading rack can be pulled out behind the car, holding items such as this pair of mountain bikes, or messy items like bags of cement or garden refuse.

An eye-catching feature of the interior is the instrument panel, which looks like it escaped from a 1955 Chevy.

But it has a modern 3-D operation and also contains all sorts of hi-tech information like fuel range, fuel consumption and also houses on-board navigation.

The F1-type steering wheel, with its squared-off lower is probably an example of Opel's design team having fun, but it does enable easy access to the driver's seat. And incidentally the seats are mounted in an elevated position to enable that perched-on-high-feeling so beloved by 4X4 owners.

Other unusual, if not ground-breaking, features include the LED or light-emitting diode headlamps and tail lamps. And the exterior has strong Opel styling signatures, including the typical hood crease in the front.

Beneath that hood lies a 1,3 litre ECOTEC diesel engine that delivers 51 kW, and which Opel claims is the world's smallest passenger car diesel. In fact the engine displaces just one thousand two hundred and fifty one ccs and claimed overall fuel consumption is 3,9 litres per 100 km.

With an overall weight of 850 kilograms, performance is said to be in the compact hatch class, with a claimed nought to one hundred kilometres per hour time of 13 seconds and top speed of 170 kilometres per hour.

At this stage there are no plans to produce the TRIXX, but at least a few of these unique ideas are sure to find their way into Opel production cars in the not too distant future.

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