Motoring / Motoring News

Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
3 minute read
5 Nov 2021
12:10 pm

First Delta now Manta: Opel’s coupe icon back in 2025 as an EV

Charl Bosch

Unlike the original, the new Manta will become a crossover-type coupe.

The original Manta A. Picture: favcars.com

Opel will reportedly follow the example of sister Stellantis brand Lancia in reviving one of its most iconic monikers as an electric vehicle come 2025.

According to a report earlier this week by Britain’s Autocar, the Manta name will be returning in said after what will be a 37 year hiatus.

Unlike previous Mantas that spawned two models over three generations from 1970 to 1988, the new model will make the transition from two-door coupe to a crossover-styled four-door coupe similar to the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

ALSO READ: Start of big things? Lancia confirms Delta revival in 2026

Like Lancia, who will be reviving the Delta in 2026, the Manta will reportedly be based on the STLA Medium platform said to be motivated by a 104-kWh electric motor capable of providing a range of up 700 km.

In addition, the platform, which is expected to underpin the replacement for the Citroën C5 Aircross, and therefore also the Peugeot 5008 and Opel Grandland, has the reported capability of accommodating power outputs of between 125 kW and 330 kW, considerably more than what the Manta made in road and rally trims during its 18 year production run.

WRC past: Manta vs. Delta

The Manta’s revival, a year before the Delta, is likely to invoke memories of both nameplates’ prowess during the controversial Group B and eventual Group A eras of the World Rally Championship (WRC).

While the Delta went on to become one of the famous and successful WRC cars of all time during Group A by winning six manufactures titles, four drivers championships and a total of 46 events between 1987 and 1992, the Manta’s arrival in 1983 as replacement for the Ascona 400, the last two-wheel-drive car to win a WRC title, didn’t result in the same success.

Opel Manta revival
How the Manta is best remembered. Picture: favcars.com

Arriving just as the monstrous Group B era was reaching its zenith, the two-wheel-drive, normally aspirated Manta 400 largely only exceeded on tarmac events as its lack of its power and grip on loose surface events saw it being outclassed by the revolutionary Audi quattro and then later, the Peugeot 205 T16 and Lancia’s Delta S4 that replaced the innovative but ultimately lacking rear-wheel-drive 037 at the end of 1985.

Despite an all-star line-up that included drivers such as 1981 champion Ari Vatanen, super star Henri Toivenen, future Citroën WRC boss Guy Frequelin and British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae, the Rothmans sponsored Manta’s sole highlights came in 1983 and 1984 when McRae finished third on the RAC Rally and former Mini pilot Rauno Aaltonen second on the gruelling Safari Rally.

Opel Manta revival
The latter Manta B GSI. Picture: favcars.com

Largely obsolete after 1985 in WRC guise, the Manta did amass a more successful record in the British Rally Championship with McRae’s AC Delco sponsored example winning the title in 1984 and his teammate, the late Russell Brookes, taking honours the next year in the iconic Andrew’s Heat for Hire Manta after an intense battle that often ended in controversy.

Despite the rise of not only the quattro, but also the 205 and then later the MG Metro 6R4 and Ford RS200, the Manta remained competitive in British rallying with its competition life stretching to 1987, a year after the banning of Group B.

Only allowed on events not falling in-line with requirements of FISA, the forerunner of the FIA, the Manta’s final event, the 1987 Ulster Rally in Ireland, ended with a bang when Brookes, who was lying third, retired on the final stage when the propshaft exploded at high speed.

The incident, captured on the in-car camera, led to co-driver, Mike Broad, exclaiming, “propshaft’s gone, destroyed. That is the end of our rally, goodbye”.

Mantas however remained prominent in the final standings with folk hero, the late Bertie Fisher finishing second, local man and long-time Manta driver Austin MacHale fourth, British-based Finn Penti Airikkala fifth and Scotsman Andrew Wood sixth.