Opel/Vauxhall plans to roll out a budget minicar in Europe in 2015 in a bid to capture customers of sister brand Chevrolet. General Motors will stop selling Chevrolet vehicles in Europe by the end of 2015 after the brand failed to gain track in terms sales in the region. As a result, GM will focus its efforts on Opel in Europe.
Opel/Vauxhall will start selling the five-door minicar – badged as Opel Karl in mainland Europe and as the Vauxhall Viva in the United Kingdom – at a base tag of EUR10,000 ($12,926). It will be slightly smaller than the Opel Adam minicar and shorter than the Opel Corsa subcompact.
The Karl/Viva will be underpinned by the same platform that underpins the next-generation Chevrolet Spark, a source at Opel/Vauxhall told Reuters. It will be powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine.
The Karl/Viva is set to replace the Opel/Vauxhall Agila, a rebadged variant of the Suzuki Wagon R+. Opel/Vauxhall expects Karl/Viva to help it appeal to buyers who previously would have bought a Chevrolet.
The source said that the new minicar, although tagged as an entry model, will not “feel cheap” as Opel/Vauxhall “worked hard” to build a good quality product. The minicar’s name “Karl” is a tribute to one of the Adam Opel’s sons who helped set up the carmaker in 1862.
Tina Mueller, Opel's chief marketing officer, said in a statement that “Karl” is a “short, snappy and catchy” name representing Opel brand values. Vauxhall had used the Viva name from 1963 to 1979.
The way the Opel Karl has been designed gives this mini car character and maturity. Its fascia reveals an attitude that is not just witty but also friendly and playful. On the front is a low and wide proportioned single trapezoid grill whose brand bar was conceived to carry the Opel logo. While the brand bar is indeed lean, it comes with “winglets” which connect the eye to the captivating headlamps, shaped like eagles, which encircle the grill on the front.
The trademarked “blade” body side, which sweeps upward in a dynamic manner, is revealed on the doors. This also mirrors the precise and sculptured design principle of the brand. There are two sharp lines that go through the door handles resulting in the model’s high-quality dynamic character being highlighted.
A combination of the large headlights and the taillights in the back give it that vibrant look, while also having an overall design that displays remarkable attention to detail for a model in its class.
The brand revealed it will be offering ten different colors for the Karl ranging from “Fresh Green Lime” to “Mystic Violet.” Different designs will also be offered for the rims, measuring from 14 inches to 16 inches. For the interior, Opel’s latest offering is roomy with a cockpit designed to be focused on the driver. This allowed both driver and passenger to have a sense of quality, space, and love for detail. The interior also shows clever storage possibilities.
A good example is the extra storage on top of the regular glove box. Another example is the door pockets in the front that have been made large enough to fit a typical one-liter PET bottle. These are enough though to reinforce the fact that the interior space has been utilized in an efficient manner. The new model also has full rear windows, which can be rolled down, a function that is rare for this price segment.
In addition to having the usual Opel design, the Karl has been equipped with a well-tempered and lively engine. Aside from the infotainment technology and standard-setting connectivity, this new model has been fitted with a wide range of safety technologies and features. It more than proves that the Karl is a fully-fledged member of the Opel range. Further, the Karl is offered in a clearly convincing and sensible package at euro 9,500.