Opel joined PSA more than two years ago. The organization in terms of design is slightly different from that found within the French group. While the design offices of Peugeot, Citroën and DS are all located in the heart of ADN (PSA’s design and technology creation centre) in Vélizy Villacoublay, Opel’s design centre remains located – and will remain – in Rüsselsheim. Its management remains in the hands of Mark Adams, below, who refers to Jean-Pierre Ploué, PSA Group Design Director.
Thus, Opel retains its image as a “German car” by remaining located in its emblematic city. And even if the underside of the Opels of today and tomorrow will be identical to those of the PSA group’s productions, the designers are committed to preserving the brand’s DNA at the Blitz. This is what Martin Schaufler, the designer of the new Corsa we met in Paris, told us in front of two brand new Corsa 2019s: a thermal and an electric one… as well as some versions of the 1982 Corsa “A”!
But before giving him the floor, it is important to know the genesis of this sixth-generation Corsa project: from the end of 2016, a logical merger between the PSA product teams and Opel’s teams is taking place for this program, long before PSA takes possession of the Opel and Vauxhall brands. This makes sense, because the Peugeot 3008 and Citroën C3 Aircross already share their platforms with the Opel Crossland X and Grandland X. The year 2017 with the integration of Opel into the French group will change the situation somewhat, but it had been established since 2016 that Corsa would be produced on a PSA platform.
LIGNES/auto : between Opel’s arrival within the PSA group and the arrival of the new Corsa, it only took two years. The program was carried out quickly !
Martin Schaufler: “Yes, we have set up a very small team to carry out this design project.”
How many people does a small team consist of? One, ten, a hundred ?
M.S.: “it’s mainly two designers with an exterior style, two others with an interior style, some designers from the HMI design teams or those from the design of headlights, lights, etc…”
It was a real commando, actually !
M.S.: “Yes, you can say it like that ! »
When does the work really start ?
M.S.: “We started at the beginning of 2017 with a lot of roughs. We had to have a maximum of two weeks to draw the car at this stage, I mean, to propose our themes with our sketches, it’s very short !”
Are you aware of the 208 project at that time ?
M.S.: “No, of course not ! I must have seen a picture or two when I was in France, at the design offices. It’s a good thing not to see competing projects, it allows us a real freedom of thought! »
You came to France for this Corsa project ?
M.S.: “Yes, when Mark Adams validated the choice of the style theme in 2017, we made a scale 1 clay model. To progress in our work, we had to find our way with the CMP platform (PSA’s small and medium-sized car platform). We met with PSA engineers and I had to take ownership of the platform and especially these hard points, especially the position of the windshield and awning. We had to immerse ourselves in the package to give birth to beautiful proportions…”
You mention a scale 1 model, but between your sketches and it, there was a digital 3D phase I imagine ?
M.S. : “yes, the 3D modeling saved us time, especially to improve the silhouette while remaining within the theme of the chosen style and to adapt it to the CMP. A fairly classic design work in the end, if not the extremely tight deadlines !”
The style was not chosen with several scale 1 models ?
M.S.: “No, there was only one, which of course we worked on and refined. The choice of design was in fact made during the sketch phase. “
You mentioned your time in the PSA design office. What memories do you have of it ?
M.S.: “Two or three months after our design work, we returned to PSA in Paris (in Villacoublay to be exact, in the Paris suburbs) for missions with engineers and to confirm the compatibility of our design with technology. Above all, I have a memory of efficiency after these meetings. It was very open, and in the end an interesting cooperation for all !”»
Jean-Pierre Ploué, PSA Group Design Director, visited Rüsselsheim ?
M.S.: “I imagine so, but this kind of meeting was held exclusively with our management, including Mark Adams.”
It is easier or more constraining to work on a completely new basis, such as that of the CMP ?
M.S.: “I would say it was easier in the sense that we quickly found excellent proportions with this long hood. On the hard points that we couldn’t change, such as the windshield pillar, we were still able to change the sections.”
Can you tell us about the project of this Corsa BEFORE PSA comes on stage ?
M.S.: “No, because I was not part of the design team for this draft. I seem to remember that it was based on a theme of proportions rather oriented towards the monovolume like the Corsa of the previous generation.”
And when you meet this team in the design corridors in Rüsselsheim, they are not too frustrated ?
M.S.: “Frankly, I don’t think so. She is especially a fan of this new, more dynamic and sporty car ! I prefer the proportions used for this new Corsa with this long hood that reminds me a little of the first generation Corsa in 1982 !”
In particular, you worked on the Monza Concept coupé (above). When will there be a real successor to the Manta, Monza and Calibra at Opel ?
M.S.: “Ah, fascinating cars… You should ask Mark Adams your question ! “
To conclude, here is the official Opel video with Mark Adams, Opel Design Manager :