Opel Sintra
Opel Sintra front 20071011
Manufacturer General Motors
Also called Vauxhall Sintra
Production 1996-1999
Successor None
Class Minivan
Body style(s) 4-door minivan
Layout FF layout
Platform U-body
Transmission(s) 5-speed manual
Related Chevrolet Venture
Pontiac Trans Sport
Buick GL8 (previous generation)
Pontiac Montana
Oldsmobile Silhouette
Opel Vectra

The Opel Sintra is a large MPV manufactured by General Motors for the European market (in the United Kingdom under the Vauxhall Sintra nameplate) between 1996 and 1999. The Sintra is one of the second-generation U-body MPVs (known internally as GMX110s). Its name was chosen by a computer from a list of short, easy to pronounce words and not after the historic Portuguese town of Sintra. It featured sliding rear side doors on both sides and was available in different seating configurations, which provided seating for from 5 to 8 passengers. Unlike its North American counterparts, it offered manual transmission instead of automatic transmission, and had the gear shift mounted directly on the floor like the older generations of European vans.

The Sintra is specifically based on the short-wheelbase version of the second generation U platform and has the same wheelbase, front and rear track as the short-wheelbase Chevrolet Venture and Pontiac Montana/Trans Sport, and similar exterior dimensions. Along with other U-body minivans, it was made in Doraville, Georgia. It did not, however, use the LA1 3400 V6 engine, but rather a selection of Opel engines (which had to be imported to the United States for assembly).

The Sintra had an important influence on U-body development – because GM wanted to keep it similar in dimensions to European large MPVs (such as the Volkswagen Sharan or the eurovans), the platform was made quite narrow, which in turn made the GMX110s narrower than the previous "dustbuster" minivans, and more importantly than most American competitors. This influence continued through the third and final generation U-body minivans, even though none of them were sold in Europe.

Many reviewers and customers found that the materials, fit and finish were below the usual Opel quality, and also below what European competitors offered – this was only partially addressed by several changes made throughout the model lifetime, like replacing the upholstery fabric for the 1997 season.[1] The model also proved relatively unreliable.[1] In 2001 the Sintra, by now no longer sold in the UK, achieved position 182 out of 182 in a J D Power "customer satisfaction survey" covering cars first registered in the UK between August 1998 and August 1999.[2]

On top of that, the EuroNCAP frontal impact crash test performed on a 1998 model revealed significant deficiencies – the cabin structure proved unstable and the steering wheel (along with the airbag) broke off (unlike the IIHS test of its North American twin, the Pontiac Trans Sport where the steering wheel only moved upward), which might have caused fatal neck injury to the driver, and that the damage to the dummy's feet were extremely high. Despite relatively good performance in side impact tests, the Sintra only managed to score 2.5 stars (3 stars with one struck due to the fatal neck injury hazard).[3] Consequently, the Sintra's popularity plummeted even further, forcing Opel and Vauxhall to drop the model in 1999. Because the Astra-based Opel Zafira compact MPV debuted at the same time, it is sometimes said that the Zafira replaced the Sintra, but in fact Opel never had a large MPV after the Sintra, and GM eventually abandoned this segment of the worldwide market altogether.




  1. 1.0 1.1 "A review referring to the Vauxhall Sintra as "Britain's worst car"". Retrieved on 2010-12-25.
  2. "J D Power Survey 2001", BBC Top Gear Magazine Issue 92: Pages 99–124. date May 2001. 
  3. "Opel/Vauxhall Sintra". Retrieved on 2010-12-25.

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