As much as General Motors might try for the American market, the redone Holden design is too diluted and compromised to be a challenger for the 5 Series BMW. It is far too large to be considered as a 3 Series slayer unless Bungle and crew allow the 3 Series to continue swelling at the current pace.
In 1990, General Motors made its best BMW slayer attempt to date through its Opel and Vauxhall divisions. Lotus was awarded a contract with a fairly long leash to redesign an existing GM design. The resultant car was a serious challenger to the M5. Lotus designed the left-hand drive Omega for Opel and the right-hand drive Carlton for Vauxhall. In total, nearly 1,000 cars were built.
As with the contemporary BMW M5, the Lotus-engineered car was fitted with an inline six-cylinder engine. The engine produced approximately 375 hp and sent it to the rear wheels through a six speed manual gearbox. Published road tests in CAR
magazines credited the Carlton with an observed top speed of more than 175 mph.
I was allowed three "take-it-easy" laps in an Opel version at Donnington Park during the Lotus Festival in March of 2000. The car is as big as the M5 and feels faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssst. It drives as taught as the BMW, yet the interior feel is more like a traditional men's club than the BMW's Spartan bus station feel.
This is the LHD Omega built by Opel.
Here's the RHD Carlton by Vauxhall in the car park at Lotus owner's event. Note the Elise and early Turbo Esprit to the left.