A pair of Corsa mini cars is running on local roads as Opel confirms seven individual models for its start-up work as a standalone import brand down under.
Opel executives confirm Volkswagen as their target in Australia, both for its recent sales growth and success in winning buyers to a relatively upscale European brand.
But the company is taking a low-key approach as it joins upscale Infiniti from Japan and supercar maker McLaren as the newest additions to a showroom lineup in Australia that is closing fast on 50 individual car brands.
"We have our launch lineup now absolutely set in stone. We have played it down until now. We wanted to be sure we had every car we wanted," says Michelle Lang of Opel Australia.
"And we have the first evaluation cars here now."
Opel has the hot Astra GTC coupe as its headliner - complete with …. - in a surprising varied range.
When sales begin on September 1 it will have the baby Corsa with three and five-door hatchback bodies, the Astra small car as both a hatch and tourer wagon, the GTC coupe and the Camry-sized Insignia as a sedan and tourer.
"Opel has always historically offered an aspirational, well designed German car at an affordable price point. We think we will be able to carve out that niche in Australia," Lang says.
The biggest question still to be answered is the pricing of the Opels, and how they will sit against the Volkswagen Polo, Golf and Passat - as well as benchmark cars including the Mazda3 and Ford Mondeo - in showrooms. But Lang says there will not be any exchange-rate-driven boost for buyers, despite the recent strength of the Australian dollar.
"We cannot confirm any pricing, but we're pretty comfortable and we haven't had to adjust that. We're really confident that we're offering great value."
"We are going to be pitched fairly and squarely at the Volkwagen segment. But it's more than a price point, it's how they cars are equipped and the amount of power."
While Opel is locked for 2012, Lang says the hottest future model from the brand - the baby Opel Junior that will be pitched against the Fiat 500 - is not a target for 2013.
"Not at this stage. We've got some really exciting models next year, but the Junior is not one of them."
Opel is benefitting from a $13.4 billion investment by GM Europe in new products over the next three years that includes everything from tiny new green engines and battery-powered city runabouts to all-new models.