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Geneva LIVE: 2015 Opel Karl

by Ronan Glon

The Karl closely previews the next Chevrolet Spark.

General Motors' Germany-based Opel division has introduced a brand new city car called Karl at the Geneva Motor Show

The Karl was designed to fill the void that will be left by the Chevrolet Spark when the Bowtie brand pulls out of Europe late next year. The Karl is the junior member of the Opel lineup, slotting beneath the MINI-fighting Adam in terms of size and price.

Exclusively offered as a five-door hatchback, the Opel's latest city car stretches about 144 inches from bumper to bumper, a figure that makes it about five inches longer than the Spark. Visually, it borrows styling cues such as a single-slat radiator grille and upswept headlights from the Adam and the recently-updated Corsa hatchback.

The Karl features a simple, function-oriented cockpit with a three-spoke steering wheel, an instrument cluster made up of two analog gauges and a curved center console dominated by a color touch screen. Base models will be Spartan at best, but higher trim levels will be available with a long list of options including Opel's IntelliLink infotainment system, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a lane departure warning system.

Power comes from a 75-horsepower 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline-burning engine that spins the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. Additional engines will likely be available later in the production run.

The Opel Karl will greet the public for the first time at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show that will open its doors next March, and the first deliveries are scheduled to take place next summer. It will start at less than €10,000 (about $12,300) in its home country of Germany.

Our sources tell us that the next Chevrolet Spark that will arrive on our shores in time for the 2016 model year will share many components with the Karl.

Behind the BadgeThe Karl is named after Carl Opel, one of company founder Adam Opel's three sons. Opel is credited for helping shift the focus of his father's firm from bicycles to cars, a process that started in 1898.

In the United Kingdom, the Opel Karl wears a Vauxhall badge and adopts the name Viva, a historic moniker used on a series of economy cars built from 1963 to 1979. The Vauxhall Viva is essentially identical to its Opel-badged sibling save for a market-specific front fascia.

Live images by Ronan Glon.

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