Opel hopes fresh design will boost Corsa sales

The new Corsa, shown, has a wide grille flanked by distinctive headlights, similar to the front end of the brand's Adam minicar.
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FRANKFURT -- Opel/Vauxhall today unveiled the first images of the upcoming fifth-generation Corsa subcompact, hoping the same design cues sported by most other new Opels will rejuvenate sales of the key model.

Opel said its designers have given the Corsa a dynamic shape, introducing flowing, sculptural forms and precise detailing. Signature wing headlights that frame the grill, a ‘blade’ running across the lower door-sections and other flowing elements inlaid into the Corsa’s exterior help to stretch the car out and give it a lean, muscular athleticism, Opel said in a statement.

"It fits in our design philosophy of sculptural artistry meets German precision," said Mark Adams, Opel's design chief.

The Corsa has a new, higher quality interior, as well as the brand's IntelliLink infotainment technology with a 7-inch color touchscreen located on the center stack, close to the gear shift. The system is compatible with Apple and Android devices and can be operated by voice command.

New safety features

The Corsa will offer new driver assistance systems available in the car for the first time including bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light, blind spot alert and the Opel Eye front camera with road sign recognition and lane departure warning.

The most frugal engine when the car launches at the end of the year will be a 95hp, 1.3-liter diesel with CO2 emissions of 89 grams per km. Additional low emission variants will follow next spring.

Following years of heavy losses, Opel aims to return to profitability by next year through a mixture of higher volumes and lower costs, and parent General Motors told investors in April that the European operations were performing ahead of plan. GM reported a $284 million adjusted Ebit loss in the first quarter for its European operations, compared with a loss of $152 million the year before. It said the loss included about $200 million in restructuring costs related to closing an Opel car plant in Bochum, Germany.

Last month Opel declared a target of becoming the No. 2 brand in Europe after Volkswagen by 2022, expanding its market share of the region – including Russia and Turkey – to 8 percent from 5.8 percent while earning a 5 percent adjusted operating margin.

The new Corsa will be a key element of that plan. The Corsa was Opel/Vauxhall's top-selling model in Europe with 105,728 sales in the first five months, 421 more than in the same period in 2013, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.

While the model still accounts for more than a quarter of all Opel and Vauxhall volumes, it underperformed both the 7 percent increase for the two brands as well as the 6 percent gain in the broader European auto market.

The Corsa will debut  at the Paris auto show on Oct. 4, with production slated to begin in Eisenach, Germany, and Zaragoza, Spain, before the end of this year.

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