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Vauxhall Corsa – first drive

The new Corsa is Vauxhall’s toughest challenger yet for the Ford Fiesta’s sales crown.

It shouldn’t be underestimated how important the new Corsa is to Vauxhall.

Consistently among the top three bestselling cars in the UK, it also happens to be Vauxhall’s most profitable car.

New Vauxhall Corsa

The current third generation hatchback is still selling extremely well (last year 84,000 were sold, with 70,000 so far this year). In fact, the Corsa accounts for one in three Vauxhalls sold.

So Vauxhall has done the sensible thing and opted for evolution over revolution with the new car’s design.

In fact, it it wasn’t for the Adam-esque nose and Astra-like rear lights, you might be forgiven for confusing it with the outgoing car. The fact is that all the body panels ARE new.

New Vauxhall Corsa

Thankfully Vauxhall has decided to ring the changes elsewhere, with new engines, a well-equipped, roomier, modern interior and all sorts of clever stuff with the steering in suspension.

Like before, there’s a choice of three and five door models. The three door is aimed at the younger market, while the five door model will probably appeal to families and older motorists.

The Corsa range starts at £8,995 and tops out at £15,600, while many of the high-end models are actually cheaper than their current equivalents.

New Vauxhall Corsa

There are a dizzying number of trim levels available with a heated windscreen standard across the range – great for those frosty winter mornings.

Elsewhere, the options load up the more you spend with the more expensive cars boasting the likes of heated front seats and steering wheel, the IntelliLink multimedia system, a panoramic roof, Side Blindspot Alert, High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning, bi-xenon lights and a rear-view camera.

I tried two petrol models, fitted with the new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and 1.4-litre four-pot respectively. Both are mated with slick six-speed gearboxes.

New Vauxhall Corsa

Small three-cylinder turbos are the new rock ‘n’ roll and I’m happy to report that the Corsa’s is the smoothest, most refined I’ve sampled so far. I tried the less powerful of the two 1.0-litres and it was very impressive, easily returning over 50mpg even with spirited driving.

If you want more performance and sportier handling, go for the slightly more powerful version of the engine as fitted in the SRi VX-Line.

The 1.4 is even smoother with similar performance and economy in the 43-62mpg range, but, for me, it’s just not quite as much fun as the three-cylinder.

Vauxhall Corsa

The Corsa will also be available with a 1.2 petrol engine, plus an improved 1.3 CDTi capable of as much as 88.3mpg with low emissions of 85g/km. There will also be automatic and Easytronic 3.0 transmissions.

Inside there plenty of room up front with comfortable seats, decent plastics and clear instrumentation. The steering wheel is fully adjustable and it’s easy to achieve a comfy driving position, though it’s still a little snug in the back if there are six-footers up front.

New Vauxhall Corsa

My only criticism is the steeply raked A-pillar with forks downwards, obscuring visibility slightly at junctions.

Elsewhere, the ride is much improved and it’s an enjoyable car to drive in town and country, though I’d choose a sportier version if you want a driver’s car – still the area where the Fiesta has the edge.

The new Vauxhall Corsa has closed the gap on its rivals – it’s comfortable, practical, efficient, well-built, competitively priced and boasts a large range of trim levels and engines.

New Vauxhall Corsa

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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