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Vauxhall Corsa is cleaner, leaner and better to drive

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In third generation guise, Vauxhall's Corsa supermini justifies its strong sales figures on genuine merit, good looks and slick design also matched in this version by a more efficient engine and a sharper driving experience.

Over the last few years, we've had to change our perceptions of exactly what a small little hatchback - a supermini - actually is.

After all, the small urban runabout role models like this used to perform is now covered by smaller citycars, leaving today's supermini as a much more grown-up thing, safer, more spacious and able to cover larger distances.

But as any teenager will tell you, being grown-up can also mean being boring.

At its launch in 2007, the third generation Vauxhall Corsa wasn't alone in offering a larger-car feel but without the kind of spark and vitality that once made small cars like this so much fun.

Yet with the Corsa Limited Edition that we look at here, Vauxhall looks to have cracked this particular nut by adding 17" black twin spoke alloy wheels and Carbon Flash roof and door mirrors, body coloured VXR styling pack, air conditioning, darkened rear glass and sports pedals.

The improvements to the 'driving experience' are significant. The previous over-light electric power steering now decently communicates what the front wheels are doing.

As for the spring and damper tweaks, the chassis feels slightly more supple than before, the ride remains on the firm side.

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Being a third generation Corsa this Limited Edition has real visual impact. Though it shares its platform, suspension and steering with Fiat's Grande Punto, there's a very different look and feel, the front end featuring a deep Vauxhall V-grille with aggressive air intakes under the bumper and a pair of headlamps that smear back along the wings.

Though both three and five-door bodystyles occupy pretty much the same footprint on the road, Vauxhall has tried to give them each their own seperate appeal, though the three-door tested here does look a little sleeker with its rear wheelarch bulges and raked rear window.

w slots nicely into the more affordable VED tax bands, emitting 124g/km of CO2 and returning 53.3mpg on the combined cycle. A small but usefull 5PS improvement now gives an output of 85PS which makes progress a little more relaxed.

And, like most of the other models in the range, it comes with an eco gearshift indicator built into the instrument cluster to prompt you when to change gear for the best economy returns.

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Residual values won't be amongst the strongest, but you can balance that against the competitive pricing of the Limited Edition models. Insurance groupings are between 2 and 8 for these cars. Cleaner, greener and better to drive, the Corsa Limited Edition now eithe rmatches or beats most of the more recently launched rivals.

And the things we liked about this car at its original launch are still in place: the sharp looks, the classy cabin, the big-car feel.

Add to that the 'in-price' extras and the competitive pricing and you've a supermini that more than ever, needs to remain high on any one's shopping list.

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