Opel Karl: First Drive Review & Video

Opel Karl review

Car: Opel Karl

Location: Zaandam, Netherlands

Reason: International First Drive

Scroll down for a video of the new Karl

I’m just back from the Netherlands where I was driving the new Opel Karl. Karl is Opel’s new five door city car, and slots in below the Adam and the Corsa in Opel’s small car range.

While the Adam rocks great style and customisation options, the Karl is a simpler car that does the things that 3 door Adam doesn’t do so well – space and practicality. It’s a cheaper car to buy too and will take on the likes of the Suzuki Celerio, Volkswagen Up!, and Hyundai i10 in the busy city car segment when it arrives in Ireland this August.

Opel Karl review
New Opel Karl: A no frills but functional five door city car

Design

At the launch, one of the Opel executives described Karl as a “good looking chap without ostentation and no bling bling”. It’s a good description. The Karl is smart looking without drawing much attention to itself.

Karl comes with five doors as standard and Opel is keen to emphasise that there are three designated seats in the back, which you don’t find in all city cars. The middle seat is small so it’s more suitable for occasional use or for a child. The boot is 206 litres, which is better than some of its rivals, and not as good as others. The rear bench split folds 60:40 as standard.

The interior will be familiar in its style if you’ve seen the Adam and new Corsa. It’s got a solid and quality feel without too much glam, though a new Intellilink infotainment system with a  7” touchscreen is coming next year.

Opel Karl review
Interior in new Opel Karl takes design cues from Adam and Corsa

The steering wheel and dials look mature, like that from the larger Corsa so you don’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of a budget car. I counted three cupholders in the Karl and there’s storage in the glovebox to stow away a few items, a shelf above it and the door pockets take a good bit of stuff as well. An extra boon is that there is not a pop out window to be seen, as can be common in city cars – there are proper winders for the windows in the back. Hallelujah!

Driving

Our test route took us out of the airport on the outskirts of Amsterdam, as far as Edam north east of the capital, and to our hotel in the city of Zaandam. Driving in this region is like driving in extended suburbia punctuated by some short bursts of motorway driving. The Karl was easy to drive and manoeuvre, but I came back with an overriding feeling of solidness that I love finding in this segment. The steering has enough weight in it not to feel like you are fluttering around the place, especially during fast, motorway driving.

Opel wants to keep the range simple and the price low so there is just one engine for Karl. It’s Opel’s new 1.0 litre three cylinder petrol engine that does without a turbo in the Karl and produces 75hp in its naturally aspirated state, putting its power to the road with a five speed manual gearbox. The performance is not exhilarating but it is adequate, the refinement good and it’s not too noisy at speed.

Opel Karl review
On the road Opel Karl is solid and easy to drive

Economy

The 1.0 litre engine produces 104g CO2/km so when it arrives in Ireland it will cost €190 to tax. The official economy is 62.8mpg.

Equipment

For the Irish market there will be three trim levels, S, SC and SE. Standard equipment on S model includes 6 airbags, Hill Start Assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, an electric driver’s window, trip computer, remote central locking and 14” steel wheels.

SC gets both front windows electrically operated, a lane departure warning system, City mode to lighten steering from a button on the dash, electric door mirrors, cruise control, driver’s seat height adjustment, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and front fog lights.

SE adds climate control, USB port, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, rear tinted windows and 15” alloys.

Price 

Karl S from €11,995

Karl SC from €13,695

Karl SE from €14,695

Watch a video of new Karl:

Caroline Kidd

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