LUTON, UK - General Motors will launch its new Opel/Vauxhall Frontera sport-utility across Europe in October and November. The company aims to sell 35,000 units in Europe next year.
The new three- and five-door models will be built at GM's IBC joint-venture plant in Luton, UK. GM owns 82 percent of IBC, and Isuzu 18 percent.
The Frontera gets automatic transmission for the first time, although the 2.2-liter gasoline version is manual only.
The driver switches between two- and four-wheel drive using a button on the dashboard.
The 2.2-liter gasoline engine is carried over from the old Frontera, but now has sequential fuel injection, balance shafts and a reduced compression ratio. A 2.2-liter, direct-injection turbodiesel already used by Saab replaces the old Frontera's 2.5-liter unit. Isuzu's 3.2-liter V-6 powers the flagship versions.
The new Frontera is larger and lighter than its predecessor. The wheelbase of both three- and five-door versions is 130mm longer, and the track is 60mm wider. The cab floor also sits 25mm lower. The three-door version is 75mm longer overall.
Only 50 of the Frontera's 2,600 parts have been carried over.
Weight has been reduced by 83kg for the gasoline Sport and 139kg for the diesel Estate.
The vehicle's profile has been maintained, but body curves are now more pronounced, and the headlamps and grille are larger.
Options include limited slip differential, ABS, air conditioning, heated front seats, driver's seat height adjustment, mobile phone and CD player.
Opel claims the new Frontera's interior is 50 percent quieter.
With the arrival of the new Frontera, Vauxhall will stop selling its version of the Isuzu Trooper, called the Vauxhall Monterey 4x4. Opel, however, will continue to sell the Monterey in the other main European markets.
GM and Isuzu invested $170 million at IBC to produce the new Frontera.
More of the assembly line has been automated than for the previous model, which was in production for seven years.
Bodyshell construction is now 54 percent automated - double the proportion of the old Frontera. The number of sub-assembly robots has been increased to 36 from 11.
Isuzu handled much of the early development work, and built and tested much of the new assembly line equipment at its Fujisawa, Japan, plant.
Early quality-check versions were assembled in Japan and tested in Europe.
A remote keyless entry system is standard. The system, originally developed for the Opel Vectra, uses radio signals, so does not require a direct line of sight to the vehicle.