Opel/Vauxhall targeting Mini, Fiat 500 with new Junior hatchback

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Premium hatchbacks have been taking the European market by storm, with models like the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and Audi A1 continuing to dominate. It's a trend that General Motors can't well afford to ignore, and now sources indicate that plans are moving forward to field a challenger of its own.

Tentatively called the Junior, the Opel/Vauxhall model would slot in below the existing Corsa and Agila (pictured above) but pack only three doors. It's expected to come in around the size of the Mini Cooper but, with an arched roofline and wide track, offer more interior space than the Fiat 500.

The model was reportedly part of GM's plans until the economy collapsed, forcing the company to trim its localized development programs in favor of global products. The General's chief of European operations Nick Reilly, however, appears to have convinced the bean-counters in Detroit of the necessity of the Junior project.

The name is still being finalized and could be announced in Frankfurt alongside the debuts of the Astra GTC and Zafira Tourer and that mystery concept, with sales slated to start in early 2013. When it does hit the market, we'd likely be looking at a range of three-cylinder engines shoehorned into an adaptable engine bay with the potential for an all-electric version by 2015.

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