5 great new Vauxhalls we want from the PSA/FCA merger
Shahzad Sheikh – AKA Brown Car Guy – is an automotive journalist with three decades of experience on various titles including the Middle East edition of CAR Magazine and Used Car Buyer.
With talks now confirmed and racing ahead between PSA (Peugeot) and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) to merge and potentially create the world's fourth largest car maker, there's been some concern as to what this might mean for UK car maker Vauxhall (bought, along with Opel, by PSA in 2017).
In fact this could be an opportunity to bring back legendary Vauxhall nameplates through ransacking and rebadging some awesome machinery from its possible new cousins.
Aside from PSA already owning Peugeot (the new Vauxhall Corsa is based on the 208 Platform), Citroen, DS and of course Opel, the merger will open up an Aladdin's Cave of marques including Fiat, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and potentially even Ferrari.
With that in mind, here are five new Vauxhalls we'd love to see come out of this merger, and how they could be achieved. Plus one non-Vauxhall bonus that would be a real blast-from-the-past catapulted into the future!.
1. New Vauxhall Frontera based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee
Remember the 1991-2004 Frontera? It was a rebadged Isuzu and was a properly rugged off-roader that proved as popular with families around town as it was on the farm being a workhorse. There's nothing like that in the range at the moment.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of Jeep's biggest sellers and combines the comfort and practicality of full-size family SUV, with the rough and tough credentials of the fabled Jeep badged. It's simply a no-brainer.
2. Vauxhall Insignia GSI based on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Insignia is a pretty handsome car, but it's based on a Chevrolet Malibu. Imagine on the other hand a reskinned Alfa Romeo Giulia as the new Insignia. Pretty much the same width, slightly shorter in length, but rear wheel drive as a given.
And then salivate at the thought of the new GSI actually being a Quadrifoglio with over 500bhp and 600NM of torque, with a 0-60mph time of under four seconds and a top speed of over 190mph. Plus it's one of the best handling sports saloons currently available.
3. VX220 based on Alfa Romeo 4C
The VX220 was one of my favourite cars, largely because it was based on the brilliant Lotus Elise. Paired down, rare, quick and thrilling to drive, it was a real attention grabber and conversation starter as not a lot of people were familiar with. Sadly it only ran from 2001 to 2005.
Alfa Romeo's hand-built 4C is similarly low weight and low slung, with compromised comfort and the contradiction of non-power assisted steering yet available only with an automatic gearbox. You can't see out the back of it either. But like the VX220, get over its foibles and it's an exciting little thing with spectacular performance. Get the price down a bit as a Vauxhall, and it'll fly!
4. Vauxhall Firenza based on the Dodge Challenger SRT
The 1970-75 Firenza is like a mini-muscle car. It apes the long-bonnet, stubby-boot profile of the formidable beasts from across the Atlantic but is diminutive in person. Then there was the High Performance (HP) 'Droopsnoot' (pictured) with the pointy front end and a 2.3 slant four with Stromberg carburettors putting out 131bhp.
But how about 485bhp from a HEMI V8 for a new version? Admittedly the Challenger has been around for over a decade, but it's been revised and updated constantly. It's got oodles of proper old-skool muscle car charisma and is currently the number two best-selling sports car in America. Re-skin it as a Firenza and bring it over to go head-to-head with the Mustang.
5. Vauxhall Lotus Carlton/Monaro VXR based on the Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody
Who doesn't miss the Monaro VXR with the V8 and obnoxiously excessive amounts of power. And how about the legendary Vauxhall Lotus Carlton which in the early 90s ruled as the fastest saloon in the world?
Well then let's rebadge the current most powerful production saloon in the world, the Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody, as a new Vauxhall Monaro/Carlton VXR8. What an epic offering that would be. Heck you could event book it in for spa treatment at Lotus in Hethel to tune it's handling for European tastes – although sideways-and-smoking is just fine in my book!
BONUS - Citroen SM based on the forthcoming Maserati Alfiero
As you're such lovely readers, and because I just couldn't get the thought of this one out of my head, here's another potentially awesome new returnee that could result from this new marriage. After all, the epically gorgeous original Citroen SM – a reengineered version of a DS with thoroughbred sporting and grand touring intentions was in part thanks to a recent purchase of another marque – Maserati!
Now they'll be reunited once again, and we know that there is a replacement in the works for the still seductive Gran Turismo. The Alfiero is likely to be a hybrid or a fully-electric luxury coupe, as such bringing the sort of forward-thinking ethos that cultivated the development of Citroens like DS and SM. It's got to be done!
Let us know what other amazing cars you think could come out of the PSA-FCA merger in the comments below.