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GERMANY/UK: Opel introduces Karl, Vauxhall revives Viva

By Graeme Roberts | 11 September 2014

Karl/Viva, likely to be Korean-made, will follow new Adam and Corsa, due out at the Paris show, into Opel-Vauxhall showrooms next year

Karl/Viva, likely to be Korean-made, will follow new Adam and Corsa, due out at the Paris show, into Opel-Vauxhall showrooms next year

Judging by the derisory comments on Twitter today, some British motoring writers aren't impressed with General Motors Europe's German unit Opel's decision to call its new five-door small car Karl. UK unit Vauxhall will revive the Viva nameplate last used in 1979.

Opel said Karl was a son of Adam Opel. Adam built Opel up into the world's largest bicycle manufacturer and sons Carl [not a spelling mistake], Wilhelm and Friedrich started the automobile business in 1898, building their first car the following year.

"Karl is a short, snappy and catchy name that represents Opel brand values: German, emotional and approachable,” said Opel marketing head Tina Müller.

All but identical bar minor market specification differences, the five-door Karl/Viva will come with a range of trims and equipment levels.

"This bold, radical name will attract attention and engender curiosity in the car," claimed Vauxhall marketing chief Peter Hope, of the Viva.

The original Viva was a two door sedan built initially at the now-demolished Vauxhall car plant in Luton for the 1963 model year. Over 1.5m were made at a new plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire (now home to Astra five-door hatchback and wagon) over three model generations from 1964 to 1979 and many more were assembled overseas.

GM's Australian unit Holden renamed the second generation Viva Torana before spinning the line off into its own unique range but revived the nameplate some years ago for a model range sourced from GM Korea.

According to just-auto's Product Lifecycle Database (see below), the Karl/Viva replaces the Suzuki-supplied Agila and will go on sale across Europe from mid-2015, more than a year after the second generation Agila went out of production. Unlike that car, the Karl/Viva is a GM-engineered vehicle and will be closely based on the next Chevrolet Spark and therefore highly likely also to be supplied by GM Korea.