It’s not just the new Vauxhall GT X Experimental concept that creates the optimism, although it does seem almost good enough and plausible enough for production (were it not for those clap-hands doors, lack of door seals and meagre rear carrying space).
Rüsselsheim has made some very decent concepts over the years, but there has always been a feeling that their future — if they had one — would be decided by uninvolved people in some Detroit ivory tower in three or six months’ time.
This is different. Big boss Carlos Tavares has already given the GT X project his blessing. Its objectives are understood by all. Vauxhalls of the future will be exciting and progressive, and this GT X will be one of the major drivers.
Meanwhile, under the management of a new but hugely experienced CEO, Stephen Norman, Vauxhall is building the retail environment to match its new design freedom and quick decision-making. Norman intends to cut the number of dealers from 330 to 250 to make the business of selling cars more worthwhile to the (doubtless carefully edited) group that remain.
He intends to concentrate on a smaller range of Vauxhall’s most profitable models. He will reduce profit-sapping pre-registration. He plans much better penetration of Vauxhall commercials. He will boost the range with a better but cheaper, Luton-built Vivaro.
The whole thing is already being backed by a simple, strident advertising campaign designed to stress the all-round strength of Vauxhall’s products, but to use uts Britishness to add specialness and spice. To judge by Opel/Vauxhall’s latest profit figures, it has already started to work.