Don't expect to go off-road in this little hatchback, but it should handle the urban jungle well enough.
Opel wants the new Karl Rocks to appeal to buyers shopping for a rugged-looking vehicle who don’t necessarily want to drive full crossover in the city. Debuting at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the little five-door hatchback boasts 0.7 inches (18 millimeters) of extra ride height over the standard model. Opel showrooms start taking orders for them at the end of 2016.
There’s no mistaking the Rocks’ close relationship with the standard Karl, but Opel tries to make it look a little tougher. The body sports revised bumpers with additional plastic cladding, silver highlights along the side sills, and 15-inch two-tone wheels in a combination of brushed aluminum spokes and darker centers.
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The interior is essentially the same as the standard Karl, but the seats get exclusive upholstery called Favo fabric. Customers who want the latest tech can order an optional Radio R 4.0 infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Drivers can also pick a further upgrade that adds navigation from Apple Maps or Google Maps.
Despite the launch in just a few months, Opel still isn’t talking specifically about the Karl Rocks’ powertrain range. However, the close relationship with the standard Karl means the pair likely share engines. The regular model uses a naturally aspirated 1.0-liter three-cylinder with 74 horsepower (55 kilowatts) and 70 pound-feet (95 Newton-meters) of torque and a five-speed manual gearbox. Stop-start is also an option.
Opel intends Karl Rocks drivers to mostly use the high-riding hatchback in the city; it can’t handle hardcore rock crawling. Trekking through the urban jungle is easier thanks to a City driving mode that reduces steering input. There’s also available Park Assist that uses audio warnings when the hatchback gets close to obstacles while reversing.
We don’t yet know the Karl Rocks’ pricing but would expect a slightly higher number than the standard hatchback. The upgrades aren’t very extensive, though, so we doubt there’s a big premium for the higher-riding version.