Vauxhall Corsa: road test

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

This best-yet Corsa is a chummy drive and economical.

Vauxhall Corsa: road test

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What is it?

The car that is the UK’s third best-selling model, given a substantial re-vamp. This is the fourth-generation Vauxhall Corsa, with fresh styling and new or upgraded engines.

How safe is it?

Pretty safe, but only awarded four stars in Euro NCAP crash testing. That said, it is better equipped with safety aids than the previous Corsa, including optional front collision warning.

Who should buy one?

Young drivers looking for something inexpensive to run, and older empty-nester looking for a nippy small hatchback with good economy. It makes a good second car, too.

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Vauxhall Corsa: road test

The Corsa has always been friendly to drive with good manoeuvrability, which is why it has long been a popular driving school car for learners, and well-liked as a first car for the newly qualified. This latest Corsa has been re-engineered for crisper responses and to make it more engaging behind the wheel, aimed at closing the gap on its arch-rival, the Ford Fiesta.

As a result, the baby Vauxhall’s driving calibre has been upgraded and the Corsa has a noticeably crisper, more pert feel from the driving seat. The car is quite rewarding to drive on a twisty B-road, where it is grippy on the corners. There is a bit of body roll on tight bends, but not too much. This is not one of those small cars that lurches about uncomfortably, it has a taut chassis and feels secure.

The suspension set-up is well-judged, because ride quality is generally pretty good. It is quite absorbent, making reasonably light work of sopping up the undulations of a lumpy road surface. The ride-handling balance seems pretty well sorted.

There is good feedback from the steering to tell you very precisely where the wheels are pointing. The steering feels nicely weighted at speed, and there is a City setting that lightens the normal steering effort to aid manoeuvring and parking in slower paced urban conditions.

The Corsa range has a choice of engines from 1.0 to 1.4 litre petrol units, and a 1.3 litre diesel, with 0-62 mph acceleration figures varying between 10.3 and 18.2 seconds. The one-litre, three-cylinder ecoFLEX petrol engine is the newest power unit and comes in both 89 and 113 bhp versions, the latter of which powers the quickest Corsa currently offered, until a VXR version arrives later this year.

Most three-cylinder engines have a distinctive thrummy engine note. Vauxhall’s is different. If you didn’t know what was under the bonnet, you wouldn’t guess. This one runs smoothly and quietly. Noise level is generally pretty good across the range.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Vauxhall Corsa: road test

For its size, which hasn’t changed with this newest model, the little Corsa is really quite roomy inside. Its overall length is modest at just four metres, but it is very adequately equipped with leg space and headroom in the cabin. We know of one 6ft 7in tall owner of the previous model Corsa, so it obviously isn’t skimped for space. It is a five-seater car with room for three adults sitting snugly in the bench-like rear seats.

There are both three and five-door body styles. The former has sharper looks, but is a bit awkward for getting into the rear. The five-door is more practical with much easier access to the back seats.
The Corsa’s boot is about average for a car this size, at 285 litres. That is extendable to 1,050 litres (1,100 for the five-door) by folding the rear seats, but it is a pity that they do not go completely flat when stowed.

SAFETY
Vauxhall Corsa: road test

It is a bit disappointing that the new generation Corsa can only manage a four-star NCAP rating, with a 79 per cent score for adult occupant protection and 77 per cent for child protection. For comparison, a rival Ford Fiesta is a five-star car with scores of 91 and 86 per cent. The Corsa does come equipped with six airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and two Isofix tethers as standard kit.

EQUIPMENT
Vauxhall Corsa: road test

The Corsa has come in for past criticism of its equipment levels, so Vauxhall has addressed this by making more kit standard across the range. Every Corsa comes equipped with a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, stability control, electric door mirrors, CD player, USB connection and LED daytime running lights. All but the lowest spec cars have air conditioning. Features such as lane departure warning and front collision alerts are options.

COSTS

Vauxhall Corsa: road test
This should be a relatively inexpensive car to run. If you want to keep costs as low as possible, the optimum version of the Corsa is the three-door with a 1.3 CDTi diesel engine. With standard stop-start and brake energy recovery, it has a combined fuel economy figure of 88.3 mpg and CO2 output at a lowly 85g/km. Service intervals are annual and up to 20,000 miles.

WE SAY

This best-yet Corsa is a chummy drive and economical.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £14,095 (plus £10,035 extras)
Performance: 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds
Economy: 57.6mpg combined
Insurance: Group 12
Tax: Band C (£0 first year)

Figures for the Corsa 1.0 Turbo ecoFLEX