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Opel reveals new Corsa, Holden eyes options

Popular pick: The Corsa has been a Euro favourite for three decades due to its small size, affordability and good driving dynamics.

The next generation Opel Corsa has been unveiled, and it could wear a Holden badge

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Opel logo9 Jul 2014

By RICHARD BERRY

GENERAL Motors’ European division Opel has revealed its new-generation Corsa light car, which could find its way into Australian driveways wearing a Holden badge.

The fifth-generation Corsa gains an all new design and major mechanical changes including new powertrains and will make its motor show debut at Paris in October this year.

Holden’s current light car contender, the Barina, is built by GM in South Korea, where it has been sourced since the Australian car-maker switched strategies from European-manufactured Opel models to cheaper Korean fare in 2005.

GM’s local arm announced in May that it will slap Holden badges on a number of Opel models for its 2015 line-up, including the Astra VXR and Insignia VXR high performance models, the Astra GTC three-door hatch and the Cascada convertible.

When asked if the new-gen Corsa could also be added to its line Australian line-up, possibly with a Barina nameplate, Holden said that it would not rule it out, but was concentrating on the recently announced European models.

“We are looking at the global portfolio to see what fits best for Australia,” said a company spokesperson.

“We're not ruling anything out, however, our focus at this stage is launching the three exciting new European-sourced vehicles coming to Australia next year and we have nothing further to announce.”

Opel entered the Australian market in 2012 with a three-model line-up consisting of the Corsa, Astra and Insignia, but pulled out after just 12 months, saying the venture was not commercially viable due to slow sales and a competitive market.

The new-generation Corsa has received a completely restyled exterior, with Opel saying that every piece of sheet metal on the car is new.

A new lower grille features at the front, surrounded by what Opel calls ‘wing’ shaped headlights, while the side panels are sculptured, with the company’s signature concave impression carving its way from the front doors to the back.

The tail-lights have been redesigned and are now wider, wrapping around to the rear shoulders of the car.

Inside, the cabin has also been given a major makeover, with the tiny Opel now featuring a more premium interior than the outgoing model. The seats, windscreen and steering wheel all come with a heating function, and there is also a panoramic sunroof, depending on the variant.

The centre console houses a seven-inch touchscreen for infotainment and the Bringo navigation, which can be uploaded to the car along with other apps such as TuneIn internet radio.

The Corsa’s chassis and steering has been overhauled, while new engines have been added and older ones improved. Opel says the aim was to produce a small car with good driving dynamics more akin to larger, expensive vehicles.

Not a single component from the old chassis has been reused in the new generation – there’s the stiffer subframe and new suspension geometry with refined dampers to improve the ride and handling. The steering geometry has been changed and new calibration software has been used to improve steering response.

Customers also have a choice between two suspension set-ups – the firmer, more dynamic Sport chassis and the softer Comfort chassis.

Under the bonnet Opel has introduced its new 1.0-litre Ecotec three-cylinder direct injection turbo petrol engine, which is available in two outputs – 55kW and 70kW, both making 170Nm.

Other petrol powerplants on offer include a 74kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine, plus two naturally aspirated units – a 1.4-litre and 1.2-litre.

A 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel completes the line and is available in 55kW or 70kW guise.

Sending power to the Corsa’s front wheels are a trio of new transmissions. The three-cylinder Corsa gets a six-speed manual gearbox, while the other engines are available with Opel’s latest six-speed automatic or the new automated manual transmission.

Opel expects the fifth-generation Corsa to roll off its Spanish and German production lines before the end of the year. Whether Holden decides to bring back the Corsa to Australia is yet to be determined.

This is the fifth-generation of the Corsa – the popular small car which has been made by Opel for the 32 years and sold throughout the world under various names.

In Australia Holden brought the Corsa into the country and rebadged it as the Barina between 1994 and 2005 over two generations. Since then Holden has used a General Motors’ built Korean car to wear the Barina nameplate.

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