Opel Karl – Review

Not a lot of people know about Karl, Karl is Opel’s rival to the Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen up!. Karl is simple, cheap and easy to live with.IMG_7301 Think of Karl as your low maintenance friend, the one that will always be there for you and never let you down. He’s the sensible one.

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Opel Karl SE
Engine: 1.0 Petrol  – 75hp and 95Nm
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual, Front Wheel Drive
Price: The Karl range starts from €11,995 with the SE starting at €14,695, as tested – €16,065, including options.

From the outside, Karl is easy on the eye. There are no vicious lines or curves like that of the Corsa or funkiness like Adam. No, Karl is simple. In this case, less is more. IMG_7284My friend Karl is finished in Titanium Grey with 15 inch alloys wheels, which are standard on the Karl SE. The front lights, grill and rear lights are the only features from the outside that hint that it comes from the Opel lineup.

Stepping inside Karl (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say), the humbleness continues. Karl SE has leather/cloth seats with slight bolsters on them to give you that extra bit of comfort. IMG_7351The heated leather multi functional steering wheel and heated seats are part of the Winter Pack, a €200 option. Up front the cabin is a nice bright place to be, thanks to the optional sunroof (€660), if this was not equipped he would feel quite claustrophobic to be in. Which then brings me to the rear of the car. There are three seat belts meaning you can fit three passengers in there but please, for their sake…don’t! IMG_7361He is quite cramped as he is a narrow car. It also doesn’t help that there are tinted windows as standard. It makes for an unpleasant experience for rear occupants.
There is enough head and leg room for a 6 foot person, like me.IMG_7356 But you would not want to do any long haul journeys. They even have to put up with wind up windows, rather than electric ones. Your poor rear passengers!

Being a city car, Karl should be easy to see out of with good visibility. This is not the case, the A pillar and C pillar are quite large for such a car and the rear window isn’t exactly generous either. Although, this chunkiness means good safety. Karl scored a 4 star rating in the NCAP.

The storage space in Karl is basic. Starting with the boot, it is 206 litres and with the 60:40 split rear seats folded, it is increased to 1013 litres.IMG_7354 This is not class leading, in fact it second last compared to the i10, up! and Aygo with the Aygo coming in last place with only 168 litres. But moving into the cabin, the driver and front passenger are spoiled for choice of where to store their tablet, phone, coffee/water bottle in all the cubby holes and have a average size glove box. Although rear passengers have to do without door pockets. IMG_7266Yes the interior could be of better quality but this does not come as a surprise when paying this price. Although Karl’s rivals are finished a little bit better.


Driving Karl isn’t going to overly excite anyone, like many of it’s city car rivals. Although, Karl is very easy to drive. IMG_7402He has a 1.0 litre petrol engine producing 75hp and 95Nm of torque. He is perfect for negotiating small, narrow city streets due to his small size and the 1.0 unit is quite lively at low speeds. My Karl was equipped with rear parking sensors (€360) so he is easy to park also. IMG_7490He has speed-sensitive power steering so at low speeds, the steering is light. When you pick up speed, like out in the suburbs, the steering becomes heavier and is suited to that style of driving. He also has City Mode so once this button is pressed, the steering will be light.

Like being easy on the eye, Karl is easy on your pocket. The Karl range starts at €11,995 with the SE coming in at €14,695.IMG_7388 My friend Karl was priced at €16,065 including extras. For that price you do get a lot of equipment. The Toyota Aygo is priced from €13,360,  the Hyundai i10 from €12,745 and the VW up! from €12,325. As you can see, Karl takes the lead here.

Karl emits just 104 g/km of CO2 meaning you only pay €190/annum to tax him, again similar to his rivals. Although, a downside to Karl was the fuel economy. I averaged 7.2l/100km, 2.7 litres over what Opel claims.

Overall, Karl and myself became good mates during our week together. IMG_7298Given the opportunity, I’d definitely go for a beer with Karl. Although, I could see myself slowly drifting off after while as Karl rambles on in his monotone voice. You catch my drift? He isn’t the most interesting person but does the job. I would consider inviting Aygo or up! along too, just to be safe.


Photography: Darragh McKenna