General Motors wants the new Opel/Vauxhall Corsa to strengthen its position in Europe's increasingly fragmented supermini segment.
The Corsa is vital to GM's European operations. Six million have been sold since the outgoing model was launched in 1993.
The aging supermini has maintained its popularity while competing with newer cars such as the Fiat Punto, Peugeot 206 and Renault Clio.
Growing demand among female buyers has helped, say GM marketing executives.
The new Corsa will be on sale in most European markets by November. GM expects to sell 590,000 Corsas in Europe next year. The current model peaked in 1997 with European sales of 736,000 units.
'We will try to achieve the same level of success with the new Corsa,' said Mark Kemper, a spokesman for Adam Opel AG. 'But the [supermini] segment has become fragmented recently, particularly with the arrival of smaller models and cars such as the Opel Agila. However, we believe that the segment as a whole will show some growth.'
GM executives expect the five-door version of the new Corsa to account for 40 percent of the sales mix. The five-door model currently makes up 25 percent of sales.
The evolutionary design of the new Corsa was created by Hideo Kodama of Opel's styling studio in Russelsheim, Germany. Kodama also designed the outgoing Corsa and the Corsa-based Tigra coupe.
'We deliberately tried to retain the former Corsa's expression while improving detail work and increasing its size and interior space,' said Kemper.
At 3820mm, the new Corsa is 80mm longer than the outgoing model.
A new entry-level 1.0-liter, 58hp, three-cylinder engine is expected to account for 40 percent of Corsa sales. An uprated 1.3-liter, 75hp engine is expected to account for 30 percent of sales.
Sporty drivers will have the choice of 1.4-liter, 90hp or 1.8-liter, 125hp engines. Two new 1.7-liter direct-injection diesels, developing 65hp and 75hp respectively, will also be available.
All engines comply with the 2005 European emission standards.
The new Corsa includes features not often found in the supermini segment. For example, GM's 1/8Easytronic' five-speed automatic transmission with manual sequential gear change is available as an option.
Other options include antilock brakes, automatic climate control and GM's OnStar integrated on-board communications system.
Front and side airbags are standard or available as options depending on local market conditions. The new Corsa's galvanized body carries a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
In Europe, the Corsa will be built initially in Zaragoza, Spain and Eisenach, Germany. Azambuja, Portugal, will follow.
The Corsa will continue to serve as GM's world car. The new model will be launched in markets such as Brazil over the next two years.