Opel Karl will prove a nifty character around the town

Opel Karl: coming our way.
Opel Karl: coming our way.

By Gerry Murphy

Looking around the streets of Amsterdam this week, it is not surprising that Opel chose the Dutch capital and the surrounding countryside to host the European launch of their latest new car, the Opel Karl.

Sitting alongside the Opel Adam, the Karl, called after the eldest son of Adam Opel founder of the company, this car is aimed at the smallest car segment without the flamboyance of the Adam.

Described by Peter Vos, Opel’s Communcations Manager as a “good-looking chap without the bling-bling and the ostentation of the Adam” this new Karl will take on the likes of the Volkswagen Up, the Skoda Citigo, the Toyota Aygo and the Hyundai i10 in a market that is slowly growing in Ireland and huge in cities like Amsterdam, Rome or even London.

Available to order now and arriving in Ireland in August, the 3.68-metre long, 1.48-metre high KARL comes with its own new all-aluminium, 1.0 ECOTEC petrol engine with 75hp and a host of safety features that are not always available in its segment.

According to Opel’s techies, this three-cylinder engine can reduce consumption to 4.3litres per 100Km in the combined cycle and CO2 emissions to 104g/km. Later Stop/Start will be added and that is expected to reduce the CO2 levels to 99g/km.

With just enough room for five people at a squeeze, the Karl is a car that will suit the young and the elderly in different ways. For the first-time driver, it is simple to drive and has enough punch to satisfy the youngsters.

At the other end of the scale, more senior drivers will welcome the wide-opening doors and the slightly higher seating position. Both will welcome the silent nature of the new engine that is specially designed for this car and the overall stability of a vehicle of its size.

Designed from the ground up, it has a more mature look than the Adam and yet, it has a real character to its styling. They say that its dashboard displays a playful friendly but witty attitude. It is certainly pretty smart and makes you feel at home instantly.

Externally, the Opel signature styling is there for all to see. Sometimes it is difficult to carry similar cues from bigger models but, with the Karl, Opel have managed the task well with the side blade design, common on Opel models and the stylish front end come from the same manual. At the back, the design is particularly impressive and it makes the car look wider and more substantial than many of the others in this bracket.

Space in the boot is rather limited but no worse than any of the competition. You can generate up to 1,310 litres of space by knocking the 60:40 split rear seat. It is a light car overall weighing in at 639kg.

This adds to the reduced costs of ownership and gives it that nifty character around town. It is no slouch out in the country either but, the Dutch countryside is much flatter than we have at home and while there is nothing to suggest that the Karl won’t cope with the hills and the changing terrain, a week in the car later this year will test it fully.

Three versions are coming to Ireland; S, SC and SE. All are high on features and well priced, starting at €11,995 for the basic S, €13,695 for the SC that has Cruise Control, City Mode steering, 15” Alloys, Lane Departure warning, Fog Lamps and Electric, Heated door mirrors among other items. For the top-of-the-range SE you can add leather features, Bluetooth, USB connection, Electronic Climate Control with air-conditioning, two-toned facia and tinted glass for €14,695.