The current Corsa is this year’s third highest selling model here in the UK. Have a guess what the number one car is, though? Yup, you guessed it, the Ford Fiesta. This has obviously given the bods at Vauxhall a little shiver up their spines – but instead of moping, they’ve decided to roll up their sleeves and try to make the new Corsa even better, competing with the Fiesta on how it drives and the Volkswagen Polo on the posh-ness of the interior. Oliver was invited by Vauxhall’s PR team to spend a day driving different versions, to see if the FOMO has paid off.
Fresh looks but nothing too wacky
The stylish, cute face of the Adam city car has been carried across to the new Corsa, which features new body panels all-round and a rear influenced by the latest Astra. Buyers of the new Corsa will have their minds boggled by no less than fifteen different colours to choose from. The new model is the same size as the old one, so die-hard Corsa fans can sleep peacefully at night, and Vauxhall have gone to greater lengths to make the 3-door version look sportier and cooler than the more mature 5-door. We think they’ve got the styling just right – nice one, Vauxhall.
Techno-chic on the inside
As soon as I opened the door, I was impressed by the inside of the new Corsa. Its main rival the Fiesta has way too many buttons on the dashboard and the more expensive VW Polo targets people after a bit of posh. The new Corsa has a classy, minimalist vibe and all the controls and materials felt really nice and worked well.
Most people pair their phones with their cars these days, even people’s grannies, so the new Corsa has a really good Bluetooth system and even comes with DAB digital radio too. Nobody likes a cold bum in the winter and options now include heated front seats, heated wing mirrors, a heated steering wheel and even a heated windscreen, so your car can feel all warm and toasty too. It’s a piece of cake to drive as well, with automatic lights and hill-start assist. The new Corsa’s interior is roomy and comfortable, high quality and practical, with plenty of useful storage. The white 5-door SRi I drove first had a stylish red streak running across the dashboard, polished black surfaces, soft-touch materials, splashes of chrome and some curvy features, so your friends will love it.
Dizzy trim levels
The cheapest versions are called ‘Life’ and ‘Sting’, which both come with a handy heated windscreen, but air conditioning is an optional extra. The rest of the Corsa trim versions, from ‘Excite’, ‘Limited Edition’ and ‘Design’, to ‘SRi’, ‘SRi VX-Line’ and ‘SE’ all have the classy-looking IntelliLink touchscreen, which allows you to display and use your smartphone and its apps on the move, including voice control systems like Apple’s Siri Eyes Free. You can even look at photos and videos on the screen, once you’re parked up.
Cranking up the fun
After spending a day trying out the new Corsa and giving it some welly on the winding country roads around the Midlands, I can confirm that the new gearboxes, the lower, stiffer chassis specially tweaked for UK roads and the new speed-sensitive power steering mean it handles much, much better. It just felt right in every department, from the slick gearstick action and its excellent manners over crests, dips and poor surfaces to the improved steering. It doesn’t quite beat the Fiesta yet but now comes very close.
1-litre engines are cool
Down-sized 1-litre engines are really popular these days and Vauxhall need something to challenge Ford’s EcoBoost version. The first of the new Corsas I sampled, though, was a 5-door with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and I actually liked it a lot as it felt reasonably powerful and refined, and averaged 46mpg.
Vauxhall’s new 1-litre, 3-cylinder ECOTEC engine will be the hot choice, though, and I got to drive a 3-door in Limelight Green and a 5-door in Sovereign Silver. The engine really was smooth and quiet, making Citroen’s equivalent sound pretty noisy. Both versions of the 1-litre engine (90PS or 115PS) produce the same grunt, meaning the acceleration felt really similar, the 115PS simply able to reach a faster speed with more top-end power. For everyday driving, I’d be chuffed with the 90PS version. I just didn’t find it as economical as the 1.4, though, and the test route of about 40 miles saw it return 37mpg. This 90PS 1-litre costs a thousand quid more than the 1.4, too, but should be cheaper to tax, insure and run.
Wrapped in cotton wool
All buyers will get Hill Start Assist and City steering mode, which makes three-point turns easier. Other advanced safety options include bi-xenon headlights, Advanced Park Assist and Lane Departure Warning, to a front camera system with road sign recognition, Forward Collision Warning and Side Blind Spot Alert. Sadly you can’t rely on these systems to pass your test, though!
Cheaper than you’d think
Even though the new Corsa has a much-improved interior and some great new engines and technology, it’s actually upto £3,000 cheaper than the last version, prices starting at £8,995 for the 1.2-litre petrol ‘Sting’ trim. A diesel engine will also be offered and drivers who like an easy life can go for the Easytronic automatic gearbox.
After an hour behind the wheel of the 1.4 turbo, half an hour in the 1-litre 115PS 3-door and just less than half an hour driving the 1-litre 90PS 5-door I, like nearly every other journalist on the launch, really took to the new Corsa. The interior is very nice indeed and the new suspension, steering and engines make it fun to drive. It now definitely gives the Fiesta a run for its money and breathes down the neck of the Polo in terms of quality. Now, which one of the fifteen colour choices and nine trim levels should I choose? Hmm.