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05/11/2010 1388

Opel - Zafira Snowtrekker

Compact Van Concept with Four-Wheel-Drive for Winter Sports

  • World Premiere: Opel Zafira Snowtrekker in Detroit
  • Aluminum, 2.2 16V, gasoline direct injection engine with 150 hp
  • Permanent all-wheel drive with viscous center differential
  • Futuristic technology-oriented design
  • Innovations include panorama roof with integrated storage box
  • Co-operation with leading ski manufacturer, Rossignol


Rüsselsheim/Detroit. Right at the beginning of the new millennium and for the first time in its history, Opel is taking part in the Detroit Motor Show (January 15-23, 2000). The German company, which celebrated its centenary as a car manufacturer in 1999, is showcasing the concept of a sporty, life-style-orientated compact van. The styling of the silver-blue Zafira Snowtrekker reflects the future of design at Opel. The technical features of the concept – such as the aluminum, 150 hp, 2.2-liter 16V gasoline direct injection engine and permanent four-wheel drive – also give clear indications of things to come. Numerous practical and detailed solutions, such as an integrated roof box, predestine the prototype for winter activities of all types. The French ski manufacturer, Rossignol, is presenting its new T-Power short skis jointly with the Zafira Snowtrekker for the first time in Detroit. The co-operation between the two companies is symbolized by the integration of the Rossignol logo into the Snowtrekker logo.

Opel is bringing a second highlight to Detroit, too: the G90 design study which was elected "Concept Car of the Year" and "Environmental Concept Car of the Year" in 1999. Thanks to its lightweight construction (750 kg), a drag coefficient of 0.22, and a highly efficient, three-cylinder gasoline engine, the G90 emits only 90 grams of CO2 per kilometer. This corresponds to a fuel consumption of only 3.88 liters per 100 km for this compact yet spacious four-seater. Alongside the G90 and the Zafira Snowtrekker, Opel's British sister company, Vauxhall, is presenting the elegantly dynamic Astra Coupé, which will be on the market in the spring.

Opel and Vauxhall's first-time appearance in Detroit is part of a larger premiere for their parent company, General Motors. GM is using the most important North American car show to present itself as a global enterprise with all its brands to the international media and to its domestic audience. In doing so, the world's largest car manufacturer is underlining the fact that it has been implementing the current trend to global multibrand strategies since the 20s of the previous century.

Design: New Definition of Opel's Technically-Oriented Form Language

The styling of the prototype takes the technically-oriented form language of the 1998 Astra and the 1999 Zafira a step further, reinforcing the outlook on Opel's design strategy provided by the G90 concept car when it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in fall 1999. Opel design director, Hans Seer comments: "The Snowtrekker's large, taut surfaces are effectively accentuated by dynamic lines. Clear graphic elements round off this preview of Opel's future form language." Stefan Arndt, responsible for Snowtrekker in Advanced Design, explains: "Our design theme was mechanical bonding, the clean joining of the individual elements." This form language is manifest in many details right up to the tire profile supplied by Goodyear. Other examples are the alloy wheels, the running board, the roof box and the three-spoked steering wheel.

The Opel emblem is a poignant and unmistakable design element on the grille, tailgate, wheels and steering wheel. Its evocatively three-dimensional presentation demonstrates the expertise of a brand steeped in tradition.

Novelty: Glass Panorama Roof Offers the Best View

A new and practical idea was implemented by the Opel design team in the form of the Snowtrekker's panorama roof which is made of heat-insulating safety glass. It allows an unimpaired view outwards and ensures that there is a maximum of natural light at all six seats. In the middle of the roof there is an integrated luggage box, measuring two meters in length, 140 mm in height and 400 mm in width. It has two compartments which are accessible from the inside of the vehicle. The smaller compartment may be used by front seat passengers, just as on a plane. The large rear compartment in which, for example, ski poles may be kept, can be loaded from the inside as well as from the outside through the opened tailgate.

Space Concept: Considerable Variability and Elegant, Sporty Materials

With the innovative Flex-7 seating system of the Zafira, Opel has set new standards for compact vans in terms of luggage space and interior variability. The Snowtrekker reinterprets the clever construction with six seats in three rows. Between the two seats in the middle row, the prototype has a large heated storage box which also serves as an armrest. The variability of the Zafira is maintained as the middle seats can be moved 540 mm lengthways and, if required, can be tilted to the front, just like the heated box. Both seats in the third row can be sunk into the floor quickly and effortlessly – just as in the standard Zafira. This means that the all-wheel-drive prototype is ideal for transporting bulky goods and all kinds of sports equipment.

Special holders on the storage box make it safe and convenient to transport winter sports equipment. Striking aluminum running boards at the rear and the boards mounted below the rear doors are a welcome help in loading and unloading the cargo space and the roof. Their surfaces are covered with rubber which is patterned in the style of the tires and thus recaptures the theme of mechanical integration. Appropriate for winter sports, the Snowtrekker is fitted with a felt carpet which cleans easily. Novel foot mats in deep-piled polygrass look very elegant thanks to an aluminum border and are also practical for handling.

Soft, grey flannel seats and door interiors create an atmosphere of well-being inside the Zafira Snowtrekker. As a contrast to the soft flannel, the sides of the seats and the instrument panel are in a black material which underlines the technical orientation of the elegantly sporty prototype.

Cockpit: Simple Operation with only Three Buttons

The new instrument panel is well laid out and easy to use. It features an innovative operating concept with only three centrally configured push, pull and turn buttons. These three buttons control the air conditioning, radio, mobile phone, navigation system and also the heated rear window. All the switches and controls needed for driving, for the indicators, headlights and dipped beam, warning lights and wipers are configured more conventionally at the steering wheel. The four clearly marked, round instruments are placed free of glare under a domed cover.

In the center console housing two electrically heated drink holders, the designers have added to the overall harmony of the design by picking up the external color of the Snowtrekker. This touch of class is complemented by the aluminum supports on the center console and the aluminum door grips and loudspeaker covers. The pillars and the roof lining are covered in a matching, silver-gray fabric.

Advanced: Gasoline Direct Injection in Aluminum Engine

The Zafira Snowtrekker prototype provides an outlook into the Opel future not only in terms of design language but also in technology. This apples particularly to the 2.2 litre ECOTEC DIRECT concept engine. The gasoline direct injection engine is based on the all-new four-cylinder alloy engine generation which is being deployed globally by GM in different versions. The 2.2 16V (108 kW/147 HP) with dual balance shafts, which are integrated in the engine block to ensure particularly smooth running, already meets the strict Euro IV emissions standard which will apply as of 2005. The first serial appearance of the aluminum unit will be in the Astra Coupé as of spring 2000 and later in the lightweight Speedster. The fuel consumption of the Astra Coupé with the 2.2 16V in (MVEG figures) is only 8.2 liters per 100 km.

Walter Treser, head of Opel Advance Engineering states: "In comparison to the production engine with classical manifold injection, the ECOTEC DIRCET achieves an additional fuel saving of eight to twelve percent." The 2.2 liter gasoline direct injection engine has a power output of 110kW/150 hp at 5800 rpm and develops maximum torque of 210 Nm at 4,000 rpm. With this friction and weight optimized four-cylinder, four-valve engine the engineers rely on a swirl wall controlled concept and a new, correspondingly aligned combustion chamber geometry. At between 50 and 120 bar, the fuel pressure of the new direct injection engine is much higher than in conventional, aspirated engines. Thanks to a NOx-trap catalytic converter, the engine already meets the strict Euro IV emissions standard. Further improvements will be possible in conjunction with reductions in the sulfur content in vehicle fuels.

Traction: All-wheel Drive with Precise ABS Control

The power of the new ECOTEC DIRECT is distributed via a center differential with viscous coupling to the two axles of the Zafira Snowtrekker. Traction in difficult terrain is supported by a controlled, individual wheel-related brake intervention. The all-wheel-drive system relies on the signals of the ABS for this and brakes each spinning wheel individually in a controlled fashion. ESP (Electronic Stability Program) can provide additional active safety, especially in rain, snow and ice.

The rear differential required for the all-wheel drive requires a new rear axle. The Opel engineers developed a very compact four control arm suspension which does not limit the innovative fold-away mechanism for the rear seats in any way. The McPherson strut front axle with its trailing arm design is similar to the standard Zafira – only the spring/damper rates and the design of the stabilisers have been adjusted.

Four-wheel drive makes the Zafira Snowtrekker compact van the ideal companion for winter activities of all kinds, a view shared by the winter sport professionals at Rossignol. Tanguy Chatillon, the marketing manager of the leading ski manufacturer, is enthusiastic about the prototype: "The Snowtrekker with its variable interior and the practical roofbox is remarkably versatile. Externally it is compact but it still offers generous space for sports enthusiasts, their snowboards and other equipment." Opel and Rossignol have teamed up to prove the point at the Detroit Motor Show. The latest Rossignol T-Power short skis are safely stowed away inside the prototype while the French manufacturer displays two cross-country skis and a snowboard on the roof. "By presenting the Snowtrekker, we are not only demonstrating how pleasant it can be to drive in the winter, but also how much potential the Zafira has for future innovation," explains Hans H. Demant, Executive Director of the Opel International Technical Development Center. "Many of the ideas shown on the Snowtrekker will reappear in our future models."

Engine & performance:

Position: front

Type: 4-cylinder, DOHC

Capacity: 2200 cc

Power: 150 hp

Torque: 203 Nm

Drive: FWD


Length: 4318 mm

Width: 1742 mm

Height: 1633 mm

Wheelbase: 1695 mm


2000  Detroit



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