UK Drive: Is the updated Vauxhall Corsa still the small car to beat?
Vauxhall’s ever-popular Corsa has been given an update, but is it enough to keep it at the top? Jack Evans finds out.
What is it?
If you take a look at the monthly list of best-selling cars, the Vauxhall Corsa is an ever-present entry. For decades, the Corsa has provided reliable and affordable transport to the masses, encapsulating everything people wanted from a compact car. The most recent generation really hit the nail on the head, but now Vauxhall has seen fit to update it with a range of new features.
Now that the Ford Fiesta – one of the Corsa’s main rivals – is dead and buried, you could argue that the goal is wide open for this little Vauxhall. But with buyers flocking to crossovers and compact SUVs, is this car still the go-to choice? We’ve been finding out.
From the outside at least, we’ve got quite a lot that’s new. At the front, the most noticeable change is the inclusion of Vauxhall’s ‘Vizor’ front end which has already been put to good use on a variety of the brand’s models. It has given the whole range a familiar ‘family’ look and brings a more characterful appearance to the Corsa.
With Vauxhall’s electrification plans now in full swing, the Corsa will be available with both petrol and electric setups, too, while a hybrid version is due to hit the range later on. The one we’re in today, however, is the petrol which brings a lower entry price point and will, for many people, prove to be the more appealing option.
What’s under the bonnet?
As just mentioned, the Corsa we’re driving uses a pretty conventional 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It’s got 99bhp on tap, alongside a relatively decent torque figure of 205Nm. Together, they enable the Corsa to return 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 120mph.
The acceleration is more than brisk enough for this segment but the Corsa’s powertrain focus is primarily placed on efficiency. Vauxhall claims that you could get up to 55.4mpg – and during our time with the car, we came very close to this – while CO2 emissions stand at a respectable 117g/km, though that’s quite a bit more than you’d get from the hybrid Renault Clio which emits 96g/km CO2 in comparison.
What’s it like to drive?
The driving experience in the Corsa is all about ease. The controls – including the six-speed manual gearbox and the light clutch pedal – are easy to get along with while the performance on offer is brisk enough to get the Corsa up to speed in good enough time. Vauxhall has favoured a more comfort-orientated approach with the Corsa’s setup and, while that does mean it’s great over lumps and bumps, it can feel a bit unsettled over crests or mid-corner cambers.
Visibility is good, too, and the Corsa’s compact size makes it ideal for darting through traffic or even just twister corners. The gearbox’s action might be light, but it does feel a little vague at times. However, the steering is pleasant while we must highlight the pleasantly round wheel which is lovely to navigate.
How does it look?
Vauxhall has added a great deal more character to the Corsa through its redesign. The Vizor front end has made a big impact Vauxhall-wide and it’s pleasing to see it make another positive impact on the Corsa. Around the back, the smoked headlight frame a more angular rear end section while the ‘Corsa’ name has been emblazoned across the boot door.
It’s the same size as the previous Corsa, but these redesigns help this new version to look a whole lot wider on the road while giving it a great deal more presence than before. A variety of colours is available with the Corsa, too, with our car’s eye-catching red colour looking quite smart.
What’s it like inside?
Move inside the Corsa and you’ll find plenty of changes have been implemented. The aforementioned steering wheel is different to the one you’d find on the previous model, while we’ve also got a standard-fit 10-inch display as standard – though not all cars get satellite navigation from the off. The seats themselves aren’t too bad in shape and size, though it might’ve been nice to have a little extra padding for them.
There’s a good level of boot space, too, with 309 litres coming as standard on this petrol-powered model – it drops to 267 litres on electric versions – while folding the seats down frees up a total of 1,187 litres which isn’t bad at all for a car of this size.
What’s the spec like?
Prices for the Corsa range kick off from £19,625, sneaking under that magical £20,000 barrier. Vauxhall has also trimmed the range of specifications on the Corsa to make things easier to digest with Design, GS and Ultimate trim levels there to choose from. Standard equipment is plentiful, mind you, with LED headlights, air conditioning and 16-inch wheels all coming on entry-level Design grades.
Our test car came in mid-level GS trim – which bumped the price up to £23,605 after optional metallic paint in the process – which adds a sportier flavour through a variety of black-coloured exterior elements, a chrome-effect exhaust pipe and tinted windows. The 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels give the Corsa a more premium appearance too while standard Europe-wide navigation is one of the key differences between GS and entry-level Design though, in truth, you could save the money and simply use your smartphone’s navigation on the screen instead.
The Corsa still feels reassuringly normal, even after this update. It’s a car which won’t be troubled by longer distances thanks to a flexible and frugal engine setup, but its compact size means it’s naturally suited to life in the town and city. Standard equipment is good, too, and the entry-level price will naturally tailor it to those who want to get plenty for their money.
This 1.2-litre petrol-powered version will still be a go-to for many drivers, including those who find the Electric’s £32,445 starting price too much to take on board. As an all-rounder, the Corsa remains very capable.