At a Vauxhall preview ahead of the Geneva motor show, Vauxhall-Opel design boss Mark Adams gave us an insight into the new Vauxhall GT Concept.

At just 3.85m long and 1.68m wide, the tiny thriller occupies a smaller footprint than the Vauxhall Corsa but promises to pack a mighty punch should it ever make production.

The GT Concept is a small, lightweight, back-to-basics, rear-wheel drive, sports car powered by a front-mounted three-cylinder turbo engine. The interior is pure and uncluttered.

“We wanted to keep the instrument functions as simple as possible and our mantra is ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road',” explained Adams.

The instrumentation might be simple but it’s also spectacular: “The instrument panel display drops away from you to create a feeling of space. There are two three dimensional dials in front of the driver and then the whole centre panel is a back-projected surface.”

The left-hand dial combines digital speedo and an innovative rev counter, comprising animated rings of red light. The rest of the instrument panel surface displays either menu information or infotainment and navigation information controlled by a touch pad on the centre console.

Adams sees voice control becoming more sophisticated and less hit or miss in the future, with drivers calling for most functions using natural, conversational speech. He also sees cars gaining more intelligence like KITT from Knight Rider. “I can see a time when your car will recognise a favourite stretch of road and maybe remember the music track you like to hear when you’re driving it,” he said.

“Although the car is tiny, we want the interior to feel open and spacious. That fits with thin pillars and making sure we had great visibility all round. It has an unusually low beltline which we could achieve with the transition glass.”

The doors are huge, taking up half the length of the car and creating a single cut line, but pivot in the centre. A semi-gullwing shape makes it easier for driver and passenger to drop into the sculpted bucket seats.

The GT Concept draws on the heritage of the Opel GT of the 1960s and two Vauxhall concepts of the same period, the Corvette-inspired Vauxhall VXR8 GTS and the recently re-discovered Vauxhall GT, which designers stumbled across when researching some long lost photos.

“I wanted to bring the spirit of those cars to this concept but didn’t want to do retro. The size and approachability is similar, but everything else is contemporary and modern,” said Adams.