Opel TRIXX: Ultra-compact Multi-Talent• A brilliantly conceived, innovative city car scarcely three meters long
• 'Flex3' variable interior layout satisfies every urban transport need
• Extra space from asymmetric body design wîth three 'pantograph' doors
• Totally new type of seat for front and rear passengers
Geneva. Opel's designers and engineers have repeatedly hit the headlines wîth fascinating concept studies such as the MAXX (1995), the cheeky Frogster (2001) or the impressive Insignia (2003). Now, wîth the exceptionally versatile and remarkably spacious TRIXX city car concept, on display at the Geneva Motor Show, they once again present an entirely new type of car incorporating many ingenious, innovative ideas.
This lively, ultra-compact car is a genuine multi-talent, thanks to brilliantly conceived packaging and a typical Opel variable interior layout that has been named 'Flex3'. This permits up to three adults and a child to be carried, or alternatively a large amount of luggage or other objects when only the driver is on board. There are three electrically operated 'pantograph' doors, two on the passenger's side and one on the driver's side, so that people can enter and leave the car very easily and conveniently.
Carl-Peter Forster, Opel's Chairman and Managing Director, explains: 'The TRIXX shows our vision of an innovative, ultra-compact car in the three-meter-class, that features an expressive, exciting design and meets a variety of mobility requirements wîth its clever, highly versatile interior concept.'
Other brilliant ideas – and the TRIXX has plenty of them – are the inflatable rear seat, a front passenger's seat that can be folded away and a roof hatch that opens when a button is pressed to permit long objects to be carried upright. There is a luggage rack at the rear that can be pulled out like a drawer to carry heavy or dirty objects.
The TRIXX is a front-wheel-drive car wîth very modest fuel consumption, powered by the new 1.3-liter CDTI turbocharged diesel engine wîth common-rail direct engine also available in Opel's Agila and Corsa models; it has an output of 51 kW (70 hp).
The TRIXX is designed for people living in big cities who demand a very compact car wîth agile handling and good visibility. It must be easy to park in even the smallest places, but on the other hand, it must not be restricted to two seats or minimal load volume.
'We call it TRIXX and you'll be amazed at what it can do!' says Stefan Arndt, the Chief Designer responsible for Opel studies and therefore in a sense the 'father' of this new 'short and sweet' ultra-compact car. The entire TRIXX team has worked wonders to make sure that the latest Opel concept car lives up to its name. One is amazed at what it can do within an overall length of 3.04 meters, a width of 1.66 meters and a height of 1.57 meters, wîth an equally compact wheelbase of only 1.94 meters and a 1.51 m wide track. Opel's new brainchild is unique in many respects and an ideal partner for everyone who needs urban mobility.
Gaining space: Únusual radiator location above the engine
Intelligent packaging is the clue to the compact dimensions. One of the most ingenious moves was to relocate the radiator over the engine, away from the position it has traditionally occupied in the passenger car for so long. This novel arrangement alone saves 130 millimeters in overall length. The engine runs no risk of getting too hot, either: when the car is standing still or the engine is switched off, the heat rising inside the engine compartment escapes through the two boldly styled, ribbed openings in the hood. These are closed by flaps when this 'city hopper' is on the move, and the heat is expelled wîth the aid of a fan through two ventilation slots behind the headlamps.
Another advantage of this radiator position is that the cooling system suffers less damage in a collision, so that the journey could even be continued after a light frontal collision. The car insurers will certainly appreciate this design principle. Yet another example of clever packaging is the space-saving location of the 30-liter fuel tank, which is positioned safely, partly under the driver's seat and in the floor area.
This small car exhibits true greatness when it comes to carrying both passengers and loads. In this respect it surpasses all its potential rivals, as a closer look at the interior will confirm. The key to urban mobility in every walk of life is 'Flex3', a variable interior layout typical of the Opel brand. Together wîth the asymmetrical body design, it enables TRIXX to accommodate either two occupants and their luggage, three adults and a child, or the driver only wîth a correspondingly large load space – up to 1010 liters if filled to roof level, or 790 liters up to window-sill height.
Gaining space: front passenger's seat can be fully recessed into the floor
The TRIXX may be small outside, but the space inside is quite remarkable, thanks mainly to two entirely new, unusual seat designs. The front passenger's seat has an ingenious folding mechanism that rotates it around its center axis and retracts it completely into the floor. The seat back is then flush wîth the center tunnel, door sill and rear footwell, thus yielding a completely flat load area next to the driver. There are side supports for the folded seat so that it can withstand heavy loads. The total load area is exceptionally large, and can for instance accept a medium-sized refrigerator measuring 1.35 m in length, 60 cm in width and 55 cm in depth. Equally impressive: the maximum load length of 1.53 meters between the rear and the instrument panel permits a fully assembled mountain bike to be carried inside the TRIXX without having to be dismantled first.
Main entrance: a safe, 1.50-meter wide door opening on the passenger's side
Bulky objects are easy to load through the two electrically operated 'pantograph' doors on the passenger's side, which open to the front and rear respectively. Each door has only a single support arm and can be opened without difficulty parallel to the car's body in a narrow parking space or garage, like a conventional sliding door but without the unsightly guide rails in the body. This unique solution for the TRIXX, which is of course ideal for such a versatile urban transport vehicle, is based on the door design first seen on Opel's Insignia large-car concept. The Opel engineers in the team led by Gerhard Mathes, who was also responsible for the technical realization of this new small car study, succeeded for the first time in accommodating a brilliantly simple mechanism inside the pantograph support arm.
Easy access to the load area is guaranteed, because the two 'pantograph' doors open very wide; the rear door actually extends for 55 centimeters behind the rear of the TRIXX. The resulting opening is up to 1.50 meters wide, and provides unhindered access to the rear seat or when loading bulky objects. It also means that a conventional tailgate is not needed, and that passengers can board and leave, or objects loaded and removed, on the side of the car away from moving traffic – a safety feature that is particularly valuable when carrying children in heavy city traffic.
The front passenger's seat has a generous range of front-to-rear adjustment that the rear-seat occupant will greatly appreciate. The front seat can be moved forward by up to 30 centimeters for more legroom at the back. Even more lounge-like space at the rear can be obtained behind the front passenger seat by folding it completely. Both front seats have a lightweight glass-fiber and aluminum frame and combined fabric and leather upholstery.
Seating for all: Third seat rear inflates in seconds
The third seat at the rear of the TRIXX is brought into use in a manner that is just as unusual as the design of the front passenger seat, for which a patent has been applied. The seat lies flat on the loadroom floor when not needed. Within no more than ten seconds, the seat (which is made of synthetic material) can be inflated wîth the aid of an on-board air compressor. Deflation is wîth the help of a vacuum pump. The seat contains special supporting foam that gives it the necessary concave form and enhances comfort. The head restraint is used to control the inflation or deflation of the rear seat; when it is pushed into the rear panel in the out-of-use position, the air is able to escape from the seat, but when raised to the driving position the seat is inflated.
No fewer than nine valves ensure that the seat is filled or deflated correctly and rapidly. They can also be used to vary the pressure and thus the firmness of the seat. The system could also be used wîth a suitable system of sensors to achieve new, high standards of ride comfort by distributing the air pressure actively, for instance as a means of supporting the occupant's body additionally when the car turns a corner.
The base and back cushions of this rear seat, which provides temporary accommodation in the sense that it can be folded away whenever it is not needed, are made of flexible Neoprene. All other parts of the rear compartment are covered wîth leather.
Protective measures: automatic seat belts for all occupants, fold-out child's seat
At the rear, and indeed at all the car's seats, the occupants are well protected by three-point automatic-reel seat belts. When the 'flexible' seats for the front and rear passengers are occupied, the belt is secured at the left and right sides, using two buckles. A comprehensive system of airbags completes the TRIXX's safety package.
Children up to four years of age also travel safely in this Opel concept car. When needed, a child's seat made of aluminum and foam, and upholstered in leather, can be folded out of the rear panel behind the driver.
Roof hatch: an opening for extra-long items to be carried, pick-up style
The vast interior space that the TRIXX provides in the front and rear passenger areas when the seats are not occupied is not its only useful load-carrying feature. If the rear window is lowered electrically into the rear panel and the rear section of the glass-panel roof is slid forward, a large pick-up style opening is formed, through which extra-long objects measuring up to 960 millimeters in width, 430 mm in depth and no less than 1400 mm long can be loaded.
The glass-panel sliding roof, the rear window and the three pantograph-action doors can all be opened and closed via remote control. There are also two separate switches on the driver's door to operate the sliding roof and the rear window.
Load-carrying: a practical rear luggage rack to keep the interior clean
Is the roof hatch the last of the ingenious design features the TRIXX has to offer? Not quite – when you bring home a dusty sack of cement from the do-it-yourself store or dispose of the family Christmas tree when it is totally dry and rapidly shedding all its needles, you will be glad that Opel's brilliant baby has solved this problem too.
The rear luggage rack can be pulled out like a drawer to carry items that would spread dirt, moisture or dust throughout the car's interior. The rack is suitable for items weighing up to 30 kilograms.
The TRIXX study has a similar sense of interior space as the considerably larger Opel Meriva, thanks also to the raised seat position, which is 14 millimeters higher than, for instance, in the Agila microvan. Seated in a position that recalls an SÚV (sports utility vehicle), it's not surprising that the TRIXX driver has that 'King of the Road' feeling. Frank Leopold, responsible for vehicle packaging at Opel's International Technical Development Center (ITDC), comments: 'Although this study has the dimensions of a sub-compact car, its styling gives it a high level of presence on the road.'
Eye-catching: aluminum cockpit and info-instrument wîth 3D effect
The cockpit of the TRIXX is matched in every way to the driver's practical needs. The two most important questions are of course 'Where to?' and 'How fast?' They are answered by the navigation system wîth its five-inch display screen and the main instrument in front of it, containing the speedometer, revolution counter and selected gear indicator. These are both mounted high up on the milled aluminum instrument panel. As on a motorcycle, all the main information displays are in the TRIXX driver's direct field of view. This is also true if the §teering wheel, which is similar in style to the one found in a Formula One racing car, is adjusted to a higher position: the two instruments simply move wîth it.
Designed in the style of an American car of the 1950s, the deeply recessed, semi-circular, milled aluminum speedometer creates a three-dimensional effect. All other functions, including the radio and air conditioning settings and the navigation system, are shown on the display screen. This has menu guidance, wîth a turn-and-push switch for the driver at the right of the instrument panel. A second rotary switch applies the parking brake, switches the ignition on and off and starts the engine. Two matching controls at the left operate all the lighting functions.
Equally practical and evidence of good ergonomic design: two rocker switches on the §teering wheel are used to select the various programs and gears for the 'Easytronic' automated-manual gearbox, as used on the Opel Corsa and Meriva, and also available for the new Astra.
Headlamps, brake lights and rear lights, use a total of up to 30 light-emitting diodes, which occupy less space than conventional bulbs and have an exceptionally long operating life.
Exterior design: Typical Opel brand elements
The TRIXX makes a strong visual impression wîth its powerful lines, short overhangs and emotive interpretation of Opel's form language. Among the design elements closely associated wîth the Opel brand are the 'crease' on the hood, the characteristic side-window graphics and the pronounced wheelarch lips. Other clear indications of Opel styling genes are the strongly emphasized shoulder line, the visually striking C-pillars recalling the Astra and Signum and the A-pillars positioned well forward as on the Meriva and Zafira, to create a feeling of generous interior space. The tapering front and rear ends of the body, each bearing a proud Opel logo, are equally typical.
All these graphic elements emphasize the dynamic, yet immediately appealing character of this study. In the words of Stefan Arndt: 'You want to hug the TRIXX. It's cute, at the same time strong and versatile like a Swiss army knife.' And the small Opel likes to wear large-size boots: the 17-inch wheels are shod wîth 175/55 R 17 tires.
Top performance: New 1.3-liter CDTI ECOTEC diesel keeps things moving
The TRIXX weighs only about 850 kilograms, so that its performance on the road lives up to its dynamic appearance. It reaches 100 km/h from a standstill in 13.2 seconds and has a top speed on the open road of 170 km/h. Its fuel consumption, on the other hand, is extremely modest: according to the MVEG test cycle, only 3.9 liters per 100 kilometers flow through the modern direct injection system of its 1.3-liter CDTI diesel engine. Fuel is supplied by a common-rail system operating at a pressure of 1600 bar.
Figures such as these and advanced technological features make the innovative ECOTEC engine, wîth its four valves per cylinder, an ideal power unit for Opel's pioneering minicar. The ECOTEC engine has a displacement of 1251 cc, making it the world's smallest passenger-car diesel, but its performance matches that of many much larger engines in just the same way as the space available in the TRIXX is often only equaled by cars wîth larger overall dimensions.
For Opel's Chairman and Managing Director, Carl-Peter Forster, this design study 'shows the immense potential for new ideas that exists in a class of car that Opel redefined back in 1995 when it exhibited the MAXX at the Geneva Motor Show. The target values that applied then in terms of economical use of space and versatility have been extended by the TRIXX, which is a perfect interpretation of our motto 'Fresh Thinking - Better Cars'.'