opel e flex concept 001

opel e flex concept 001

Future may be the F-word at General Motors' Opel, Vauxhall and Saturn brands, but that's not stopping development work from continuing on core vehicles like the Zafira seven-seater. Prepping for release in 2011 or 2012, the new car wears a brand identity that was first previewed with the Flextreme concept in 2007.

The Opel Ampera, Europe's version of the Volt, also displays similar styling cues, especially at the front of the car with the wing-like headlights. But the seven-seater also looks to share some other design elements with the new Insignia, especially in the character lines along the side and around the grille.

If Saturn survives the next 45 days or so as a core GM brand, it might see the Zafira introduced as a MPV/small minivan offering for the U.S. market as well. Such a move would help scale and economy issues assuming it could be built efficiently in the U.S., while also helping GM to combat increasingly tough fuel economy standards by offering a smaller footprint but still seating seven.

On the other hand, if Opel/Vauxhall and Saturn are all spun away from GM, that might mean the vehicle remains Europe-only. At this point, the latter option seems more likely, but it's far too soon to tell.

Whatever the outcome of GM's brand strategy, the Zafira will be a car to keep an eye on as it takes on the Ford S-Max and Renault Scenic on their home turf.