Launched in 1993, the Vauxhall Corsa has been Vauxhall’s best selling model for almost all of that time. So, the arrival of a new one is a really big deal for the brand. The latest Corsa is the first Vauxhall model to be developed jointly with new owners the PSA Group & Vauxhall have made sure that the Corsa, which is built on the same platform as Peugeot’s latest 208, is subtly different from it’s French sibling.
Engine wise, Vauxhall have kept things simple, with just two petrol engines offered, a 1.2 75PS manual & 1.2 100 PS manual or auto, plus one diesel manual, which is a 1.5 102PS turbo diesel. An electric version the Corsa-e, will follow in early 2020, powered by the same 100kW electric motor & 50kWh battery that powers the e-208.
They’ve also simplified the model range specs, with just four on offer. Entry level SE features 16″ alloys, 7″ multimedia colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, mobile phone portal, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto & a single USB connection.
Next up is SRi, which adds a leather flat bottomed steering wheel, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, electric front & rear windows, an exterior styling pack which includes a sports fascia & visible chrome tipped exhaust, dark tinted rear windows, a black roof, rear parking sensors & adds a ‘Sport’ switch for more driving enjoyment.
Elite Nav comes next & this offers additional goodies, such as a 10″ colour touchscreen, SatNav, a black roof,A & B pillars & spoiler, ambient LED light, a panoramic rear view camera, front & rear parking sensors, heated front seats & a heated steering wheel.
Range topping Ultimate Nav, features 17″ alloys, leather seats with a drivers massage function, Intellilux LED Matrix headlights, keyless open & start, electronic climate control, adaptive cruise control & an electric parking brake.
The new lightweight design means that the Corsa weighs in from just 980kg, with some models weighing up to 108kg less than the outgoing model. It’s also 48mm lower than it’s predecessor, with the new lower profile most noticeable on the black roof models.
Where the Corsa is most obviously different from sibling the Peugeot 208, is from the outside, with the Corsa offering a lower, more angular profile than the Peugeot. All models pull off the trick of looking sporty, with alloys offered even on the base models. The black roof also adds an upmarket feel. The front & rear lights are more angular on Corsa than 208 & these too add to the sportier looks of the latest Corsa range.
Where Peugeot have their i-Cockpit & a small steering wheel, Vauxhall have kept the dashboard neater & more conservative & there is a larger steering wheel too.
The cabin is nicely laid out & it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. The touchscreen is simple to use & easy to understand & you can also access the phone & various modes via switches on the steering wheel. Underneath the screen sit easy to use heating & ventilation controls, beneath these are a USB input & 12v socket.
On our test model, which were all SRi or above, there’s a starter button to the left of the steering wheel, so you can leave your keys in the small cubby in front of the gear stick.
Up front, there’s plenty of room for driver & front seat passenger. Despite the sloping roof, rear headroom is fine, but rear leg room is tight. The black headline that featured in most of our test cars looks lovely, but can make the Corsa on a gloomy Winter’s day seem little claustrophobic, especially in the rear.
The Corsa’s boot offers a decent amount of space with 309 litres available, which increases to 1081 litres with the rear seats folded.
We drove three versions of the Corsa, beginning with the likely best seller, the SRi Nav Premium 1.2 100PS Turbo manual, which costs from £20,440 OTR. This petrol version is good fun & offers quite a bit of driving enjoyment. The gear change is slick & with a 0-60mph time of 9.3 seconds & a top speed of 121mph, it offers decent performance. The new better insulated cabin, noticeably keeps wind & road noise at bay & the suspension is noticeably improved on the outgoing model. Vauxhall claim on the WLTP combined low/high fuel economy, 47.9 – 52.3 mpg for this model, with CO2 emissions of 96g/km. On our test route which to be fair, was on mostly winding A & B roads we averaged just 38mpg, a little disappointing.
Next up was the fleet favourite, 1.5 102PS Elite Nav Premium Turbo D. Costing from £21,560 OTR, the diesel needs to be pushed a bit more than the petrol version to eek out any fun. You ned to change gears late & rev the diesel much more than the petrol, but it too offers up a decent, quiet ride. Top speed is 117mph & the 0-60 mph time a little slower than the petrol at 9.6 seconds.
Where the diesel reigns supreme though, is on fuel economy. Again under WLTP combined low/high fuel economy, Vauxhall claim 62.8 – 70.6 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 85g/km. On exactly the same test route as the 100PS petrol, we managed to achieve 68mpg, a full 30 mpg better than petrol & for us, this makes the diesel a no-brainer for any fleet customer looking at the Corsa range.
Last up, we tried out an Ultimate Nav 1.2 100PS Turbo auto, which costs from £25,990. This was by far the most fun version to drive, especially in Sport mode, although the claimed 0-60mph time of 10.2 seconds is actually slower than both the petrol & diesel versions. The auto box is a joy to use & the suspension & set up on this version feels tighter & more sporty. Vauxhall claim a WLTP combined low/high fuel economy of 45.6-48.7 mpg for this version with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. We got no where near this, averaging just 31.4mpg. The temptation to utilise the Sport mode meant that more fuel was used & we think that you’d have to be very disciplined driving this version to get that economy higher, avoiding Sport mode at all costs.
Whilst the new Corsa ticks all of the boxes it needs to tick to appeal to existing Corsa customers, especially with AppleCarPlay & Android Auto offered as standard, on all the range, you’ll need to spend £25,000 to get a range topping auto Ultimate Nav model, which we think is rather a lot for a small five door hatchback. Better to look at the SRi range which is around £5,000 cheaper.
Despite the media obsession with petrol over diesel & the fact that the petrol Corsa will be the biggest seller, our findings prove that there’s still plenty of life left in diesel yet. As a company car driver or fleet manager, why would you choose the petrol, which as we discovered, offers around 40 mpg, when the similarly priced diesel offers almost 70 mpg. For us it’s a no brainer. Let retail customers loose on the petrol Corsa, with the sensible fleet money, best invested in a very neat & tidy 1.5 Turbo D.
The new Corsa looks good, comes well equipped & is also way better then the last Corsa 4/5