The new Vauxhall Corsa occupies a very important space in the small car sector. In fact, it occupies a very important space in the car market in general – how many adverts have you seen on eBay for Corsa’s with the words ‘ideal first car’? We’ve all got to start to somewhere, and more many people including me, Vauxhall’s Corsa was square one.
The new Vauxhall Corsa is especially important. In an increasingly competitive sector, Ford, on face value at least, seems to have taken the lead in the small car sector with the Fiesta. Many of these cars, as you’d expect these days, do offer very similar levels of kit, similar engines and a similar ride. So how does Vauxhall’s new Corsa stack up against the competition?
We started the day at Calcot Manor – and after a presentation from the team at Vauxhall started our drive along the prescribed route planned out for us. It was all very slick and the route offered us up some nice driving conditions. Not the best of weather, to say the least, but a good range of fast roads, dual carriageways, twisty-turny lanes and town driving kept us busy.
There’s no getting away from the fact it’s classic Vauxhall. From the wide-mouthed grin at the front, akin to the new Adam, to the Astra lights and side lines, it takes a lot of cues from the outgoing model, even if all the panels are completely new. It’s a good looking car – the rear reminds me of the Mk.2 Corsa with the way it curves around the lights, the fact it’s pretty narrow and is slightly recessed from the bumper. An old design cue, but welcome nonetheless.
Another thing Vauxhall have brought back, as a nod to the brand legacy, is the classic SRi in some trim setups. There are quite a few different line-ups and engine combinations, as you’d expect of a car in this sector. Life, Sting, Sting R, Design, SRi, Excite, SE, SRi VX Line and Limited Edition, in fact. Actually, In terms of engines as a whole, they are simply very good, very consistent and provide a good amount of poke throughout the range. The first car driven was a 1.0 Turbo and in terms of three-pot power, it more than delivers. I was really surprised by the amount of torque delivered low down, and this is something Vauxhall have said they’ve been working hard on. 170nm @ 1800-3700rpm is delivered, and it’s suprising how reluctant it is to rev. Not a bad thing – you just don’t need to….in terms of overall enjoyment this is definitely the engine to have. It’ll probably get you nigh-on 50mpg on a long run, too. It runs at 90PS, but I don’t think you’d need any more.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t think the extra PS you get by upgrading to a 115PS 1.0 3 pot is particularly important. The second car driven was a 1.4 at 100PS and I didn’t think it felt that much faster. It costs a bit more in terms of insurance and tax too, which in this sector is of course vitally important.
I have to say, the 3-cylinder engines on the new Vauxhall Corsa really do match up to Ford’s versions. They’re poky, nimble and super cheap to maintain. Really good stuff.
The ride is firm and stable and it feels maturely planted. It rivals the Fiesta, and I think it betters the new VW Polo which I reviewed a little while ago. It’s comfortable too, with the seating position really suiting the car and the seats being really nicely set up. It was a surprise to find everything pretty much where you’d expect – I’m not normally a massive fan on Vauxhall’s interior switches and the like, but they felt reliably firm and tactile.
The chassis is superb. It gripped, stayed rigid and provided loads of feedback. In fact, on our way to the 3 Daggers Pub for lunch, it coped with the damp Somerset and Wiltshire roads incredibly well. It stayed comfortable – and the little holes and undulations typical of British roads it took in its stride.
The New Vauxhall Corsa is a cracking little car, no doubt about. It deserves to sell really well, and I’m sure it will, even though 20-somethings closer to my age might choose the Vauxhall Adam instead for its charm, quirkiness and colour combinations. I don’t think that doesn’t make the Corsa a really grounded and excellent all-rounder though – the engines really are fantastic, the car feels new and refreshed and the interior and overall ride and comfort is excellent. Highly recommended – well done Vauxhall, you pulled it out the bag when you needed to.