- A Stromer with a manual gearbox isn't that stupid after all …
- Manual transmission and e-car? What a station wagon …
- Nothing seems like a compromise
- Picture gallery: Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD (2021) in the test
A Stromer with a manual gearbox isn't that stupid after all …
It wasn't that long ago that Opel In one of the old production halls in the Russelsheim headquarters, a first personal meet-and-greet was granted with the Manta GSe ElektroMOD. Even then we were impressed by the electric conversion of the Manta A from the seventies.
And the idea of roaming public roads with it felt somehow surreal.
You can read in detail here what we were able to find out about the road-legal concept car during the static presentation, how the technical data of the coupe came about, how it was converted in the first place and what distinguishes it. But now the gray hall theory is actually turning into bright yellow practice in public road traffic. Opel invites you to a test drive in the Manta GSe ElektroMOD.
So you give us the original key from 40 years ago, which dangles from a small Manta pendant. So it is not unlocked via radio or even keyless go. The key has to be in the lock. Turn around, push, get in. The antiquarian part is also required for the ignition lock.
And after the key has been turned to the start position, the Opel Mokka-e wakes up borrowed "Pure Panel" to life and shows 100 percent battery level and a range of 200 kilometers.
Manual transmission and e-car? What a station wagon …
Normally – as is usual with electric cars – we would now set any rocker arm, rotary control or gear selector switch to "D" and start rolling silently. With Opel's E-Coupe, however, the process is a little different, because the manufacturer removed the 4-cylinder gasoline engine from under the bonnet and used a 108 kW (147 hp) electric motor, but the transmission remained untouched.
So we're sitting in an e-car and pressing a clutch, engaging first gear and … carefully releasing the clutch while holding down the brake at the same time. What in a combustion engine would mean that the engine dies again with a rough jolt, is in the Manta GSe a pure precautionary measure compared to the original 4-speed gearbox. Because although the clutch has been reinforced, the old part of the drive system has to cope with 255 Newton meters from 0 rpm. For comparison: Even a Manta GT / E with a 1.9-liter gasoline engine only achieved a maximum of 153 Newton meters at 4,200 tours.
Nothing seems like a compromise
As soon as the car drives, however, it drives like a normal car, Opel assures us. So we let go of the brakes and the Manta starts moving with a low and regular hum. To get to know each other, the manufacturer lets us take a short tour of the factory premises under supervision.
Already here and up to a maximum of 50 km / h, you notice how quickly you get used to the combination of electric drive and manual transmission and how natural everything feels. Nothing seems like a bad compromise and it would probably feel wrong if we didn't have to switch.
Then it's finally out in public traffic on our almost 40-kilometer test lap. The barrier at gate 60 opens, the traffic light at the next intersection turns green and we are so excited we forget that we should actually drive off with the clutch. Damned. But luckily nothing happens. Clutch and transmission hold and we promise ourselves inwardly to think even more of this unusual start-up ritual in the future.
Time to speed up. How fast it goes to country road speed, however, we can only measure with the Popometer. There are no official figures from Opel. In any case, it is less than ten seconds. In the 1970s, a Manta with 15 seconds was a pretty sporty bullet. Opel does not reveal the top speed either. We drove a maximum of 120 km / h. There would still have been enough power reserves for significantly more.
The Manta is never really as quiet as a whisper like in an off-the-peg electric car. You can tell the old components. The rubbing of the bearings and axles sounds like any car from 40 or 50 years ago, the wind noise cannot be ignored and the thin-walled sheet metal lets you feel every insect that bursts.
Of course there is also no air conditioning. Down the window, arm on the edge, drive the Manta. That's how it used to be. Not just in summer. That may sound very negative, but it creates an incredible retro charm and a fairly immediate and unfiltered driving experience.
The steering, which of course has to do without power assistance, also contributes to this. Mini is talking about a go-kart feeling? Opel is building a go-kart with the E-Manta! And although the Ronal rims, which are huge for the wheel arches, are installed, which look quite restrictive in terms of maneuverability. But the turning circle is extremely small. Thanks to a wheelbase from the 70s.
Also suspicious of go-karting: the road holding. The chassis lets the Manta glide smoothly over the asphalt. No rocking, no rumbling. Plus the tight seats. Despite its sports coupe look, the original model looked more like a sofa room by today's standards.
The greatest thing, however, is the power transmission. Of course, the Manta has rear-wheel drive. And since the electric motor power first has to be sent via a clutch, an old gearbox and a drive shaft before the wheels can be operated, a certain inertia arises in the entire system, which somehow comes very close to a natural naturally aspirated motor torque curve. The Manta GSe is the naturally aspirated coupe among the electric cars. This is how Opel builds it. Just as.
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What also makes an impression is the attention this car generates. As surreal as the exit seems to us, the individual item must appear surreal to the other road users. We are photographed and filmed.
Several people in a vehicle make each other aware of the phenomenon. Flashing lights or wild waving maneuvers are also quite normal. And that in the greater Russelsheim area. With an Opel.
We are not quite sure whether people only react to the manta itself, the color, the digital Vizor or the arm hanging casually out of the window. Or do you already know the model from the press, from social media or from stories? Will they really realize that this one-off is electric? The E license plate actually gives it away. But in the end, it could just be a crazy Manta fan who replaced the grille with a screen.
We don't really care why and why people react so positively to the car. And Opel shouldn't care either. Not even a Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo causes so much attention … or any other electric car.
Will this be enough for Opel to continue its efforts? We do not know it. According to the manufacturer, the inquiries are enormous. And that even though a six-figure sum should quickly come together for such a conversion – without a donor vehicle.
The solution? A production model. Then also on EMP2 with 136 electric PS like in the Mokka-e. And let's be honest: A coupe brother with a similarly modern look and a certain dose of retro charm would look pretty good on the chic SUV.
Picture gallery: Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD (2021) in the test
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