The Karl is Opel’s latest City Car that sits neatly between the funky Adam and reliable Corsa. With a strong emphasis on practicality and passenger space, it’s happier around town, than it is on the open road.
The Opel Karl comes with one single engine and transmission choice. This is a three cylinder 1.0 litre petrol option mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox with a power output of 75bhp. Like most three cylinder engines, the Karl’s has some pep and does not feel quite as underpowered as its power figure would suggest. Its steering is light and the manual transmission has a nice smooth shift and feel to it. The Karl is nippy and efficient around town, with great visibility all round and very easy to manoeuvre.
The Karl is the smallest hatchback in the Opel range and it comes with a very modest price tag attached. The overall ride is rather good and it is very happy around urban and town roads. Once out on the motorway,while comfortable, the Karl does not feel quite as at home. There is quite a bit of road and wind noise in the cabin and the engine really has very little left in it if an overtaking opportunity arises. If you are looking for a more rounded and refined small Opel for this purpose, the Corsa is a better option.
With the availability of just one engine and gearbox, choosing your Opel Karl is further simplified with the offering of just three trim levels. These are S, SC and SE. The entry level S gets a roof spoiler, tinted windows and daytime running lights as standard while inside you get a multi-function trip computer. Move up in the spec and you benefit from further interior creature comforts like an adjustable drivers seat, multi-function leather steering wheel, climate control and 15 inch alloy wheels.
The level of finish in the Opel Karl is very impressive. The dashboard layout is not unlike the design in the newest Corsa and features a neat blend of good quality soft plastics with piano black inserts across its fascia. For a small city car and considering the price, it feels like a quality product and good value for money. More added value is that the Karl is not available as a three door option, but just a five door. That means access to the rear seats is great adding to its versatility.
The Karl scored four from five stars in the rigorous Euro NCAP crash safety test. It may not be the top score but the test has recently been made more rigorous and this score keeps it in line with its closest competitors. Had it been under the older regulations, it might have scored full marks. Safety kit as standard however consists of six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, hill start and lane departure warning. This standard specification probably makes it one of the best equipped city cars in its segment.
Despite the Opel Karl’s City Car size, it actually feels quite spacious on the inside. Its high roof line and five door set-up as standard, make it a comfortable car to be a passenger in and legroom is impressive too. That extra legroom may have compromised the boot space however with a capacity of 206 litres, but the rear bench does fold with a 60:40 split to open up the back of the cabin for storage of larger or longer objects.