It appears as if the crossover-styling of Renault’s much-talked-about Vel Satis flagship made a big impression on Opel and Chrysler, both of whom will display luxury hatchbacks at Geneva.

It appears as if the crossover-styling of Renault’s much-talked-about Vel Satis flagship made a big impression on Opel and Chrysler, both of whom will display luxury hatchbacks at Geneva.

The production-version Opel Signum will make is world premiere at the show tomorrow. It has a long wheelbase and stretched body-style combined with an elegant exterior, optimised interior flexibility and individualised passenger comfort features.

A special highlight of the Signum is its FlexSpace seating system, which makes it possible to slide each outer rear seats individually backwards by 130 mm. For even more comfort, the rear seatbacks can be tilted to a 30-degree angle. The basis for the Signum´s intelligent seating system is the car’s unique proportions: with a length of 4 636 mm the Signum is only 40 mm longer than the Vectra sedan, but its wheelbase is 130 mm longer.

The Signum will is offered with four petrol and three diesel engines from the Ecotec family with power output ranging from 75 kW to 157 kW. A three-litre V6 common-rail diesel unit and a two-litre turbo are both coupled with a newly designed, lightweight, six-speed manual gearbox. An adaptive five-speed automatic transmission with 'Active Select' function will also be offered.

Chrysler, in turn, will be unveiling the Airflite concept. The Airflite concept car is Chrysler's latest step as it works to redefine itself as a manufacturer of stylish upscale vehicles. The “Airflite” moniker is an homage to the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, a curvaceous and aerodynamic sedan that was decades ahead of its time.

Chrysler hopes the Airflite concept will impress the European car scribes and win more attention for cars like its new Crossfire, which could hit the South African market by the end of 2003.

The four-seat, five-door Airflite, says DaimlerChrysler, blends "the styling of a coupé with the practicality and function of a saloon car". The car has a wooden floor, its instrument panel and seats are attached to the centre console and petrol cap is mounted inside the rear hatch - for security and styling, according to Chrysler.

According to the interior has design cues that call upon "artistic" throwbacks to art deco, marine architecture and, oddly enough, contemporary furniture design.

The long, tapered roofline, absence of B-pillars and high door lines are taken straight from the Crossfire. However, rear fog lamps, centre-mounted stoplight and repeater lamps set into the side vents distinguish the car from its coupe sibling. Bold chrome wing badges and massive seven-spoke alloy wheels round off the car's chunky looks.

Many will look at this concept as a styling try-out for a small family hatchback for the European market. The rear-wheel drive concept is powered by a Mercedes-Benz derived 3,2-litre V6.

"No production decision for the Airflite has been announced at this time," Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said.

Original article from Car