Vauxhall-Opel Junior: a Mini rival for 2013Fri, 15 Oct 2010
Vauxhall-Opel has frozen the design of an upmarket small car, to rival BMW’s Mini and the Fiat 500.
Codenamed Junior, the 3.7m-long three-door is two years from production. Based on a shortened Corsa platform, Junior will supplement the utilitarian Agila and conventional Corsa supermini in Vauxhall-Opel’s small car range.
Nick Reilly, GM Europe president, said one of his first decisions upon taking charge last November was to ‘prioritise and accelerate’ development of the car. ‘It’s a chic and stylish minicar... that fits with today’s hip, urban spirit,’ said Reilly. ‘It is not a low-cost verison of Corsa.’
Expect Junior prices to closely peg the Cinquecento’s, which starts at £9500 in the UK.
While the Mini and 500 have a strong heritage to plunder, design chief Mark Adams is starting afresh. ‘We have a heritage in small cars, but we wanted to do this in a contemporary way. It’s modern but with real personality.’ That said, the Junior codename comes from a 1983 concept car, not that one concept provides a heritage like Fiat’s finest.
While the Insignia’s interior has been handed down to the Astra and Meriva to boost economies of scale, the city car will get a bespoke cabin design. Customisation is critical and lucrative, and there’ll be high-tech infotainment options. And expect enough space for four. ‘Toyota’s iQ is too compromised,’ says Adams. ‘Ours won’t be generous, but it will be capable of seating four on a normal journey.’
GM Europe is investing €11bn in new cars and powertrains over the next four years. A new small engine family, EU6-compliant and sipping petrol, is under development and pencilled in for the Junior. GM confirmed its baby will also be sold as a battery-electric version.
‘We want to show we are not in a straightjacket,’ says Adams. ‘Cars like the Junior will make people realise we are really pushing the Opel-Vauxhall brand. If we’d have tried to introduce it before Insignia, it probably wouldn’t have worked. Now we have the quality, and we’re flirting with more character and personality.’
Junior production will begin at the Eisenach plant in Germany in late 2012, with sales beginning in 2013.
By Phil McNamara