Vauxhall is to launch a mini-MPV based on its Corsa supermini. The new car will be launched within the next 18 months, and will offer an alternative to the Ford Fiesta-based Fusion mini-MPV, which goes on Sale this summer. The Vauxhall will slot between the Baby Agila and the much larger Zafira seven-seat MPV. Vauxhall has announced its intentions by releasing pictures of a prototype version of the car, called Concept M, which it will unveil at the Geneva motor show in March.

This car pretty much shows how the production version will look, differing only in its detailing. Expect less chrome, conventional door handles and smaller wheels on the real thing, and Vauxhall badges rather than Opel.

Concept M is 10 inches longer than the Corsa, and nearly seven inches taller, the aim being to provide plenty of head and shoulder room. It has four big seats as Concept M, but the production version will be a five-seater - and will do without the internet connected personal digital assistant that is a feature of the show car.

The concept is powered by a natural gas fuelled 1.6 litre 150 bhp turbo engine, but the production versions are likely to be fitted with a choice of 74 bhp 1.2, 89 bhp 1.4 and 123 bhp 1.8 petrol engines, and 64 and 74 bhp 1.7 diesels. The Corsa MPV will join a new and fast-growing niche of baby MPVs. The Mercedes A Class and Audi A2 have blazed a trail in the expensive area of this market, the Vauxhall Agila, Suzuki Wagon R, Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo at the basic end, but the arrival of Ford's Fusion and this Vauxhall will at last provide a mainstream choice in the market. Expect this pair to be joined by a mini-MPV Fiat Punto in 2003 - and others too in time.