2012 Detroit Auto Show: Chevrolet Code 130R Concept
By Chris Haak
Is it cool to own a GM car? I believe the answer depends on who you’re asking and which car you’re talking about. For instance, I have close family members who have an anti-Buick bias because of Buick’s image as the chariot of choice for blue-haired old ladies. I love the Corvette, but its reputation is that its target buyer is an older male in the throes of a mid-life crisis.
I’m in my mid-thirties and drive a late-model Cadillac CTS. When I see other CTSs on the road, I see very few drivers that look like me. They’re almost all much older than I am. So how does GM convince young people who are more fashion-conscious and have less money to to afford the kinds of cars they really would prefer to drive? The company thinks that one answer might be its Code 130R concept.
A simple three-box, four seat car, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the Code 130R was “BMW 1 Series.” I doubt I’m the only one that had that thought, and I’m also pretty sure that the homage is not an accident. Apparently, the car’s designers showed various silhouettes of sporty cars to young people around the country to gauge their reaction, and one of the most popular was this one.
Just like the 1 Series is not exactly the most beautiful BMW, this car seems to be far too conservatively styled. Of course, the upsides of a conservative design are that it tends to age better than a more radical one, and interior space is maximized by a boxy shape. It’s the same reason the VW Golf seems to have a fairly large interior.
The Code 130R concept is rear wheel drive and said to be powered by a 1.4 liter Ecotec turbo with eAssist, producing a combined 150 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque. It would be paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Though GM did not make clear what production chassis, if it even is production-based, underpins the Code 130R concept, but since several GM insiders told GM Inside News that both the Code 130R and the Tru 140S concepts were designed with production in mind, it’s likely that this car has the new Alpha platform in there somewhere. That’s the same platform that underpins the all-new Cadillac ATS, and it seems to be both small and light.
We have already heard that the next-generation Camaro (the 6th generation in that car’s history) will be smaller and lighter than the full size sedan-based 5th generation Camaro. Though we didn’t hear this from the horse’s mouth, it seems that this car may be a heavily-disguised hint at some characteristics of the next Camaro, due in just a few years. For one, expect the return of the four cylinder Camaro. For another, expect it to be smaller and lighter.
That being said, this concept has classic muscle car proportions, with its long hood and short deck, yet any feeling of modernity, aside from its drivetrain, seems to be absent. Frankly, I think GM Design can do a better job than this one, and I expect that when they trot this car out to various regional auto shows over the next several months, there will not be a huge groundswell of support for this one. I expect that we’ll see some of this in the next Camaro, but there will not be a production car that looks like this one. Just my humble opinion, of course.