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Opel’s new city car offers you a whole lot of bang for your buck

CarsBy Robbie Farrell
Opel Karl
Opel Karl

Opel Karl International launch

Looking for a car that is very affordable, functional, cool and fun? Well, this little offering from Opel is a ‘Karl-oad’ of fun.

Hot on the heels of the Adam and new Corsa comes the all-new Opel Karl, named after Karl Opel, the eldest son of founder Adam Opel.

A champion cyclist himself, Karl and his brothers were credited with transforming their father’s sewing machine and bicycle-building business into the very successful car manufacturer it is today.

The Karl is Opel’s new baby that the company says will give customers “access to the Opel family” — and we can see where they are coming from.

Priced at just €11,995 for the entry-level model, the new Karl will certainly appeal to first-time buyers and older couples whose rugrats have fled the nest.

However, if you were to buy the Karl in any other country in Europe it would cost just €10k — you can blame our Government on the ridiculous taxes that make it €2k more expensive in Ireland.

Unlike its Adam sibling, which only comes in two-door and accommodates four passengers, the Karl is a five-door model that can ferry up to five passengers about the place — and we were quite amazed at the amount of head and leg room for rear-seat passengers.

Getting behind the wheel at the international launch this week in Amsterdam, we were very impressed with Opel’s smallest car.

On the outside, the Karl is very easy on the eye. It features the company’s signature ‘blade’ body style and a few design cues from the Adam.

On the inside, the Karl is a very comfortable place to be. Our test model was fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen which was very easy to use.

To top it off, early next year Opel will be offering its new OnStar package to compliment its IntelliLink system.

This new OnStar system, much like that in BMWs and many other premium brands, will offer subscribers a wide array of services 24/7.

For example, if an airbag deploys, Opel OnStar’s centre will be alerted automatically. An advisor will then contact the vehicle to determine whether help is required and, if there is no answer, emergency responders will be immediately sent to the exact location of the vehicle.

However, this is just one of the services and functionalities offered by Opel OnStar. The driver and the passengers can call for roadside assistance and other remote connection services, knowing that they will be connected to an advisor who speaks their language.

On the safety front, the Karl comes with a lot of bang for your buck. Standard features that you would normally pay over the odds for in more expensive cars come as standard — even in the entry-level S model.

Apart from standard ABS, traction control, stability control and the hill-start assist, the Karl also features a cornering light function integrated in the fog lights that ensures that turning manoeuvres are safer for the driver and other road users.

Upgrade to the SC and SE models and Opel is throwing in lane-departure warning system too.

If that’s not enough, you could also opt for the heated leather steering wheel along with heated front seats. But be warned, add all these extras and you could quickly find yourself in Corsa price range.

The highlight for us, though, is the new 1.0-litre ECOTEC engine tailor-made for the Karl. We originally thought it was the same engine that is fitted to the new Corsa, but we were wrong. This new little purpose-built three-cylinder engine is one of the quietest that we have driven to date, and it certainly doesn’t lack power. It potters around town with ease and even though it takes a few seconds to come up to speed it belts along the motorways.

Claimed figures for this new engine are 4.3l/100km, although we got nowhere near that on our test drive. It also falls into the 104g/100km emissions category, which will set you back just €190 a year in road tax.

Commenting on the new Karl, Dave Sheeran, managing director of Opel Ireland, said: “The name Karl is short, crisp and concise and like Adam has the power to start conversations. The mission for Karl was simple: As elaborate as necessary, as simple as possible and this is reflected in every aspect of the creation of the car. We know that Karl will prove popular on Irish roads with its appealing price and features.”

The new Karl is available to order now and is due on our shores in August. We’ll bring you the full review when we get behind the wheel for a week-long test drive.

 Robbie Farrell