Opel brings back Frontera badge for new EV crossover

Crossland replacement gets early 1990s name revival

Opel is reviving its Frontera model name for a new car

The big European carmakers have cottoned on to the fact that we like familiar names. With the major Chinese players entering the market with cars named either after aquatic mammals or just with inexplicable and apparently random word combinations, the reappearance of car names that your mum or dad might have owned seems to be bringing some reassurance to buyers.

It’s why Ford has had such success with the return of the Puma name, and why its new electric SUV is called the Explorer. Equally, at VW, Thomas Schafer said that classic names like Golf, Tiguan and Passat will survive into the electric era because people trust them.

Clearly, this has been Opel’s thinking of late as well. We already know that the classic Manta badge is poised to return on an all-electric four-door coupe crossover in 2025, but we hadn’t been expecting the return of the Frontera.

Yet, that’s exactly the name that Opel will give its new compact crossover, which will be revealed in a couple of weeks and which will go on sale towards the end of the year. It will replace the existing, and rather ordinary, Crossland — clearly, Opel is hoping that a new name might eradicate unpleasant memories of the under-performing Crossland.


The Frontera name was originally applied, in 1991, to Opel’s first SUV. Indeed, that original Frontera — a rebadged Isuzu MU 4x4, as both brands were then part of General Motors — was one of the first in the SUV revolution, even if it wasn’t quite seen as such back then. Chunky and reasonably large for its time, it’s mildly worrying to note that the current Crossland — now considered a small car, really — is about the same size as that original Frontera.

The new model breaks away from the Crossland’s slightly apologetic styling to become a much squarer and broader-shouldered SUV, and it will also be the debut model for Opel’s updated “Blitz” or lighting badge. It will come in conventional petrol and hybrid forms, but it will also be offered as a fully electric car — most likely using the same 54kWh battery, 156hp electric motor, and 400km range as the current Mokka-e. Along with the Grandland, which is also up for replacement this year, the Frontera will close the ring of Opel’s electric product ramp-up and will signal the fact that all Opels are now available in fully electric form. That’s ahead of the brand’s stated 2028 ambition to sell only fully electric models.

“The name Frontera is ideally suited to our new, exciting SUV model. It will have a confident character and be positioned right in the core of the market,” said Opel chief executive Florian Huettl. He must have a short memory, though — while the Frontera was a popular model in its day, it was also heavily criticised for its poor driving experience and economy. Indeed, it’s ranked as the 10th worst car of all time by Auto Express magazine.

Hopefully, the new Frontera will therefore share only a name, and not a general sense of deportment with that 1991 original. Interestingly, Opel has said that the new Frontera will stick to the brand’s traditions of “affordable mobility” and will be offered at “an attractive price”. There are rumours that the basic petrol-engined versions of the Frontera might be priced at a point to challenge the incoming new Dacia Duster when it comes to value.

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Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring