Chevrolet has only released a teaser photo of the redesigned 2016 Spark minicar so far, but the final product has been hiding in plain sight as the Opel Karl that debuted at the Geneva auto show. The Chevrolet version will have a slightly different look with its brand-specific fascias, but the European-market Karl otherwise provides a good preview of the U.S.-market Spark we’ll see at the New York auto show in a few weeks.
The Opel Corsa in general and the Corsa “120 Years” in particular show that it is a core brand characteristic to always offer customers more than they expect in the respective vehicle class. The foundation for this was laid at the end of the 19th century by the Opel patent motor car “System Lutzmann”. Its short price list already included two innovative extras: the first was the pneumatic tire, which was invented by Robert William Thomson in 1845, but had not yet found widespread use in automobile production. The second was the optional removable child seat available for the small two-seat motorised coach, whose one-cylinder, 4 hp engine delivered a speed of 30 km/h. This example alone clearly illustrates what Opel has been all about from the very beginning: absolute suitability for everyday use instead of technology as an end in itself.
You can get a basic Crossland (which is actually very well equipped, complete with OnStar and a wifi hotspot) for just €21,995 in SC trim. However, our test car, an SE, was bumped up from a €26,495 base price to more than €28,000 with a few optional extras. And that’s a big tripwire. For that same money, I could have bought an Astra Sport Tourer estate, with the excellent 1.4 Turbo petrol engine, in range-topping Elite trim, with a bigger boot and more space in the back seats. And a chassis that sparkles and delights, rather than merely trudges along. The Crossland X is a significant car for Opel, not least because it is the first fruits of that Franco-German tying of the knot, but it’s rather lacklustre in comparison to the excellence of the Astra.
It will all be possible by switching to a brand new platform belonging to parent company PSA, a “multi-energy platform” as billed by Opel which has already served as foundation for the aforementioned Peugeot 208. Much like the French supermini has spawned an electric version, the new Corsa will also be offered in a zero-emissions guise dubbed “eCorsa.”
*Fuel economy values are determined through CO2 measurement in accordance with the latest ECE R101/SANS 20101 standards, as prescribed by South African government, conducted in a controlled environment and were correct at the time this disclaimer was published, which is subject to change. The specifications are for comparison purposes between the different vehicle models available in the S.A market which are all tested in the same manner, specific driving cycles and controlled environment.
In September 1995, the Vectra A was replaced, but Calibra production continued until June 1997. Although a smaller coupé (the Tigra) was available, the marque was left without a mid sized coupé until the Astra Coupé was launched in 2000, and with the introduction of the Opel Speedster in 2000, three years after the Calibra was discontinued, Opel finally offered a sports car again.
Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., and Charles Erwin Wilson ("Engine Charlie" Wilson), GM's president, were considering the options. Later in April, Sloan sought to resolve the differences of opinion with a position paper that he hoped would set up conditions for resuming control of Opel that would put at rest the doubts of GM's more conservative financial minds.
Typically, although a far better car, like the Chevette all Kadett models have been the butt of jokes in Europe, particularly for being very common (the quintessential middle-class car in Germany and the Netherlands), very prone to rust and very easy to steal. While essentially good cars, and always praised as such by contemporary press, these gave Opel its commoner reputation it is still struggling to shake off.
Although GM's passenger vehicle line-up in South Africa consisted of Opel-based models by the late 1970s, these were sold under the Chevrolet brand name, with only the Kadett being marketed as an Opel when it was released in 1980. In 1982, the Chevrolet brand name was dropped, with the Ascona, Rekord, Commodore, and Senator being rebadged as Opels.
The Kadett E (Vauxhall Astra Mark 2 in the United Kingdom) was introduced in August 1984, and was voted the 1985 European Car of the Year. The 1984 model was also developed into a more conventional three-box design with a boot (trunk), badged as the Vauxhall Belmont in the United Kingdom, launched at Frankfurt 1985. This was awarded the 1985 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland. There was a station wagon called the "Caravan" available, with either three or five doors. In South Africa, the Kadett notchback was sold as the Opel Monza, along with a convertible. This replaced the Opel Ascona.
The Opel Performance Center in 2011 launched a hardcore version of the Corsa OPC – Corsa OPC Nürburgring Edition. The engine is the same, 1.6 litre turbo, but it has been tuned to punch out 210 PS (154 kW; 207 hp) and 250 Nm (280 Nm with overboost function) of torque at 2,250 to 5,850 rpm. 0–100 km/h time is 6.8 seconds and top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph).
World War II brought to Rüsselsheim the only year in the history of Opel – 1945 – in which it produced fewer vehicles since that first Lutzmann-authored Opel was made in 1899. Before the conflict broke out, the Adam Opel AG had established itself as the largest motor vehicle manufacturer in Europe. The combination of Opel know-how with GM resources had produced outstanding results. In spite of stifling red tape, the economic atmosphere in Germany in the 1930s had powerfully fertilised the growth of this and other auto companies, but in the case of Opel, at least, the expansion of this industrial machine clearly was not directed in any way toward military objectives.
SRi models get sport style seats and distinctive 16in alloy wheels, while those opting for the SRi VX-Line models get 17in alloys, sports suspension and an aggressive bodykit thrown into the package. The special edition models consists of the Limited, Red and Black Edition Corsas. Limited Edition models get Vauxhall's OnStar concierge and emergency portal, sports seats, air conditioning, chrome exhaust, sports suspension, 17in alloy wheels and front foglights included in the package, while the Red and Black Edition gets a red or black paint job, 17in diamond-cut alloy wheels and are the only Corsas fitted with the 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine.
The other reason for the B’s success had to do with GM: once again, after having failed to slow down the VW’s ascent with their 1960-1961 compacts, they were forced to take the small car market seriously. That led eventually to the Vega in 1971, but in the shorter term, it meant marketing the Opel as something other than with which to remodel the garage. Now the Kadett family, which included a new fastback coupe, sedans and wagon, was seen in front of the typical American garage: two Opels for the price of one Buick.
Acceleration and braking benefit from every kg saved. Lightweight design is therefore strategically important at Opel. The current Opel Astra, which premiered in 2015, set new standards in this respect. The 2016 “European Car Of The Year” is up to 200kg lighter than its predecessor. As a result, the agility and ride comfort of the Astra are significantly improved; throttle reaction is more responsive, the steering reacts more dynamically, the driving experience is more engaging. The weight reduction will have a similar effect on the new Corsa.