FRANKFURT -- Opel's redesigned Astra features a floating roofline that may pop up on future Buicks.
The newest Astra is slightly smaller than its predecessor but boasts an increase in interior space. That's ideal for weight reduction and cargo capacity, but it created a problem for designers.
"When you keep the same height but squeeze some size out of the car, it becomes more squarish and can look taller and stumpier," said Opel design chief Mark Adams. "That's not good, so we needed to hide it visually."
Adams' team came up with a solution: Black out the C-pillar, near the rear of the car, and extend the chrome strip that runs along the roofline through the pillar to the car's spoiler. It gives the impression that the rear of the roof is floating untethered above the body.
"With a conventional C-pillar, your eye visually travels to that C-pillar and then stops," Adams says. "What this does is allow your eye to travel all the way through it. You're stretching the shape, making the car look lower and more coupelike."
Nissan embraced the same styling trick on the 2016 Maxima sedan and other vehicles.
Ed Welburn, GM's global design chief, says the floating roofline is "an element that you'll be seeing on future Opels." Adams said the element could appear on future Buicks as GM works more closely to align Buick and Opel.