New Vauxhall Corsa first drive

Vauxhall Corsa





The fourth generation Vauxhall Corsa range of three and five door supermini sized hatchbacks is about to arrive in the UK.

They can be ordered now with deliveries to customers starting in January


The Corsa is currently the UK’s third best selling model range after the Ford Fiesta and Focus ranges. Last year 84,275 Corsas found UK buyers making it the best selling market for Corsa in Europe, ahead of Germany where it sells under the Opel branding. The Corsa’s sales represent one third of all new Vauxhall cars sold in the UK

In Europe overall the Corsa is the fourth best model range for the first nine months of this year. The VW Golf tops the top-ten new car sales chart followed by the Fiesta and Polo. In 32 years over 12 million Corsas have been sold, an average of 370,000 cars each year.

So the arrival of a new Corsa range is a significant event for Vauxhall-Opel and European customers. UK prices start at £8,995 for three door versions and £9,595 for five door models. Prices currently top out at £15,980. The new range has been simplified with fewer trim levels and models and the prices have been reduced by an average £1,000 over the previous generation versions. There are still 90 derivatives, down from the 170 in the outgoing range.

The nine specification levels are, Life, Sting, Sting R, Design, SRi, Excite, SE, SRi VX Line and Limited Edition, A 200hp VRX version is due to arrive in Spring 2015.

Ian Mitchell, Product Manager for Vauxhall’s small cars said at the UK media launch, the Excite spec level will be the most popular for retail customers with the Design and SRi levels being the main choice for fleet and business customers. He added there will be roughly a 50/50 sales split between retail and fleet buyers, a 50/50 sales split between three and five door models and Vauxhall expects to sell around 90,000 next year.

The new Corsa arrives with a re-designed platform, new suspension with the settings tuned at GM’s Millbrook engineering facility in the UK. The steering also has UK specific settings again developed at Millbrook. Every body panel on the new Corsa is of different design from the outgoing models, there are new or revised engines and transmissions and the specification is higher and the prices lower overall.

Vauxhall Corsa Vauxhall Corsa There is a totally new design for the cabin. It is roomier in the rear than the Ford Fiesta, it has a better and more modern layout for the fascia panel and the instruments, touchscreen and other controls than the Fiesta and the new interior overall is now very close to the classy environment provided by the Volkswagen Polo. From customer feedback the most requested new standard feature for the Corsa is a heated front windscreen whilst the option of heated front seats and steering wheel are carried over from the outgoing models. Vauxhall’s IntelliLink connectivity and infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen is available as standard on most models. Customers can also choose side blindspot alerts, high beam assist, lane departure warning, bi-xenon lights and a rear view camera.

As for engine choice, there are seven core units with nine versions with varying CO2 emissions to choose from. But the main news is the arrival of the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder ECOTEC direct injection turbocharged petrol engine which is claimed to be the only ‘triple pot’ unit on the market with a balancer shaft which reduces noise, vibration and harshness. The new1.0-litre petrol Euro 6 compliant engine is available with 90 or 115hp power outputs each of which produce 170Nm (125lb ft) of torque from 1,800rpm

In addition there are revised 1.2-litre 70hp and 1.4-litre 90hp normally aspirated petrol engines, a new version of their 1.4-litre 100hp Turbo petrol unit and there are revised versions of the fuel sipping 1.3-litre CDTi 75 and 95hp turbodiesel engines. The latter reduces CO2 emission levels down to 85g/km and fuel consumption to 88.3mpg in the Combined Cycle when fitted in the three-door models. Five speed manual gearboxes remain for some versions but two new six-speed transmissions, manual and an automatic, are claimed to improve gearchange quality and provide improved overall efficiency. There is also a new Easytronic five speed automated gearbox for some models.

Which engines will prove the most popular in the UK? Ian Mitchell said he expected the 1.4-litre 90hp to be the main seller followed by the 1.2-litre 70hp and then the 1.4-litre Turbo 100hp. Petrol engines will prove to be the main choice due to their lower purchase price and improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 tax gathering emissions. The headline grabbing new 1.0-litre 90/115hp ‘triple’ cylinder turbocharged petrol engines are initially expected to account for around 15% of sales but this will increase as they gain a reputation for their performance and refinement.

The new Vauxhall Corsa is the best ever in terms of smart design, improved levels of equipment, lower prices and roomy rear seat space. It is still an evolution rather than revolution but very welcome to the market. From its big smiley face front grille, leading to its rising waistline side coupe profile with sculptured doors and panels with flared wheelarches and neat tailgate rear end it has considerable visual appeal. For the sake of practical use I would always opt for the five door model but the two body options are targeted at different audiences. Three door models fit the bill for younger or older singles and couples, the five-door models better suit for families and fleet/company car users-choosers. Inside the improvements are impressive and the quality higher. It is certainly a better and smarter interior than found with the current Ford Fiesta.

Vauxhall Corsa Vauxhall Corsa Vauxhall Corsa Whilst it beats the Fiesta for interior design the Corsa is out-gunned for handling refinement by the VW Polo and the Fiesta and probably the Renault Clio. The steering, being tuned for winding UK roads, is sharp and precise but the standard suspension with its re-tuned dampers and springs doesn’t cope that well with undulating country roads despite the lowered centre of gravity. There was a certain amount of bounce on undulating surfaces with unpredictable pitch and roll during cornering. The car seems to float through bends rather than give positive grip and feedback. During firm braking the nose dived and the rear end became light. The new Corsa just seemed to lack balance and poise in the main retail customer Excite and SRi levels of specification I tried.

Better news though about the new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, direct injection turbocharged petrol engine. I tried both the 90 and 115hp versions and they really impressed, not just me, but all my colleagues. Both versions are enthusiastic performers and remarkably smooth and refined due mainly to the sump-mounted balancer shaft which irons out noise, vibrations and harshness. Both units have a torque output of 170Nm available from 1,800rpm so they really are responsive more or less right through the rpm range. The 1.0-litre 90hp unit has an official top speed of 112mph with zero to 62mph taking 11.9 seconds. In the three-door test car with SRi spec the official Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 65.7mpg with CO2 of 102g/km. On test driving enthusiastically encouraged by this brilliant willing new engine the fuel consumption was still an impressive 47.5mpg.

Delving into the 115hp model with a five door body and the best selling Excite specification the official top speed is a little faster at 121mph zero to 62mph takes 10.3 seconds, the Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 115g/km. On a similarly robust test drive, including stop-start in-town traffic, the figure was an impressive 51.4mpg.

Price comparisons are difficult because not all engines are available with all spec levels. But using the SRi level as an example there is around a £1,500 price premium to be paid for opting for the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine with 90hp over the potential best selling 1.4-litre naturally aspirated 90hp petrol unit, but believe me it’s worth it.

Overall the new Vauxhall Corsa is mostly a big improvement, it is cheaper, better equipped, looks really smart and with a good array of engine choices. The best of those being either of the new 1.0-litre ‘three-pot’ turbo petrol units.

MILESTONES: Vauxhall Corsa Excite 1.0T 5-Door Hatchback. Price: £14,695.
Engine/transmission: 998cc, three cylinders, turbocharged, direct injection petrol, 115hp, 170Nm (125lb ft) from 1,800rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 121mph, 0-62mph 10.3 seconds, 57.6mpg Combined Cycle (51.4mpg on test), CO2 115g/km, VED First Year road tax £0, Year Two onwards £30, BIK company car tax 16%. Insurance group: 12E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,020, W 1,994mm, H 1,481mm, boot/load space 285 – 1,120-litres. For: Lower prices, higher specification, lower running costs, classy interior, roomier for rear seat passengers than a Fiesta, responsive new 3-cylinder engine options, slick new 6-speed gearboxes. Against: Lacks driving finesse of the Fiesta with unpredictable roll and pitch handling during cornering.  Miles Better News agency 

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