The Corsa has long been a popular choice for buyers of small hatchbacks in the UK but the third-gen model was getting a bit long in the tooth and falling behind the competition. Vauxhall squeezed as much life as possible out of the old car but now the 2015 fourth generation Corsa is on target to reclaim the favour of a fickle public.
It’s not entirely a brand new car; rather, under the skin, it’s basically the old underpinnings that, importantly, have had a major improving overhaul. The body however is almost completely new and the latest range of engines on offer are right in tune with today’s requirements.
Under The Bonnet
Our test Corsa featured what I reckon is the headlining choice of engine for this car. It is a spirited 1.0L 3-cylinder ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo petrol unit that meets the latest stringent Euro-6 emissions regulations. Vauxhall say that right now this is the only production three-cylinder engine on the market with “a sump-mounted counter-rotating balancer shaft, making it especially smooth and resonance-free and a class benchmark for reduced noise, vibration and harshness and is one of the quietest three-cylinder engines of its type”. On the road I can certainly agree plus it has the added bonus of good performance – 11.9 seconds for our 90PS version (there’s also a more powerful 115PS alternative). It’s a torquey little motor generating 125lb/ft at 1,800rpm.
There are other petrol engines and a frugal diesel available too and Start/Stop technology is standard across the range. The feature can be switched on and off by way of an ECO button on the dash. The 1.0L petrol achieves, say the company, an official fuel consumption figure of 65.7mpg with CO² emissions as low as 100g/km although I only saw an average around 47mpg but that’s probably not helped by my enthusiastic driving style.
On The Road
In three-door form I think that the Vauxhall Corsa has real kerb appeal. I’m personally less a fan of the five-door which exudes practicality but is nevertheless arguably the more useful version being easier to transport 4/5 people. Horses for courses, I guess.
In common with most other manufacturers, Vauxhall have gone down the family resemblance route and the car now has a longer front end and Adam-like look to the nose, with stylish headlamps, a wider, lower grille and chrome detailing. The whole design is refreshed with sharper lines and detailing.
The good news is just how much better the Vauxhall Corsa is to drive. The engine is quiet and refined yet delivers really nimble performance that feels faster than the 0-62mph time suggests. A lower centre of gravity and stiffer subframe delivers superior handling and my only complaint here is that the new speed-sensitive steering is way too light for my tastes, alas.
There’s no point in trying to rag it to the red line because high in the rev range the little motor understandably starts to run out of puff, but shift the crisp and much improved gear change early and you’ll be surprised how much driving pleasure the Corsa delivers. Plus – joy of joys – for once, a car maker has seen the sense of giving a small engine a proper six-speed gearbox. The result is relaxed cruising at motorway speeds.
Inside The Box
With the earlier car the interior was looking faded and jaded; now though Vauxhall have delivered a well executed and well appointed cabin which also appears to be largely based on the sibling Adam. Quality has taken a quantum leap forward with more soft touch plastic and a compact central dashboard array that features a new seven-inch colour touchscreen with Vauxhall’s IntelliLink system, on more expensive versions.
Our air-conditioned car – in SRi trim – was very well equipped as detailed by the spec sheet below. Bluetooth and so on are all controlled by the screen which can support functions such as controlling the sat-nav that’s on your smartphone. No parking sensors on this car but it’s easy to park in any case.
The seats front and back are supportive and the cloth trim seemed robust but every single person who rode in the car said that the seats were overly firm. I had to agree although a comfortable driving position was easily achieved thanks to plenty of reach, rake and steering column adjustment.
The latest Vauxhall Corsa is a very likeable car and I enjoyed my week driving it. The real bonus is that despite being a much improved vehicle it has actually come down in price and the range now starts as low as £9175. It’s roomy, is cheap to run and offers some cracking new engines. There’s plenty of kit as standard too which makes the whole package a genuinely attractive choice.