REVIEW DATE: 05 Dec 2007
Vauxhall's Corsa is a supermini with ideas above its station. Just as well that the 1.4-litre 16v engine can punch above its weight too. Andy Enright reports
It used to be very simple. Superminis were once a distinctly perishable commodity. They were built of thin plastics, tinny metal and were powered by engines that did the trick for city driving but which were useless for anything more demanding. In recent years that has changed but it's taken the launch of the latest Corsa to really punt things to another level. Like big cars but hate big bills? Try one of the latest Corsa 1.4-litre models for size.
The 98bhp 1.4-litre 16v engine features Twinport technology which builds on the standard four-valve technology of Vauxhall's ECOTEC engines. Fuel savings are achieved by a special intake manifold in combination with a high rate of exhaust gas recirculation. The advantages of Twinport technology are achieved through a combination of fuel injection and exhaust emission control by a three-way catalytic converter. This reduces technical complexity and consequently the cost to the customer, making the Twinport solution particularly attractive for superminis like this Corsa, as power output and efficient fuel consumption are maintained.
Talking of which, this Corsa will achieve a combined fuel figure of almost 51mpg which makes it probably the pick of the petrol models, although the 1.3-litre turbodiesels feature superior performance figures and vastly superior economy. Still, you do need to pay quite a bit more for the privilege. In this 1.4-litre you can get to 60mph in 13.9 seconds and run on to 112mph. The emissions figure of 129g/km isn't too shoddy either, especially when considering the amount of weight the Corsa has piled on down the years.
First 855kg, then 999kg and now 1,085kg; the Corsa certainly has piled on the pounds since its 1993 launch, managing to supersize itself over the course of three generations. It's by no means unusual either, rather like the nation's telly-addict offspring, our superminis have been growing steadily porkier before our very eyes with today's Peugeot 207, Renault Clio and Fiat Punto all weighing-in far heavier than in earlier iterations. This isn't simply redundant bulk, the product of too many or after school McDonalds detours. The extra weight is accounted for by increased dimensions that facilitate greater interior space and superior safety measures to meet tightening legislation, not to mention the technology and all-round quality that we now demand in our small cars. As the weight has crept up, the engines have had to become stronger and more efficient too.
"The 1.4-litre unit is the best of the petrol engines in the current Corsa line up"
Both three and five-door bodystyles are available and the difference between the two versions is pronounced. The three-door offers a coupe-like silhouette with a side window line that falls away from the roof at the rear to maximise the sporty look without minimising rear headroom. As it is, headroom in the back isn't spectacular and the low window will have adults ducking down to see out but legroom is quite adequate. The five-door is a very different looking car that yields more space for back seat passengers. Both models give generous space in the front seats with a very comfortable driving position courtesy of the height and reach adjustable steering wheel and the supportive seating.
The quality of materials used is leagues ahead of the old Corsa and like the Astra, there's the bulletproof feeling of build quality that's as good as anything in the sector. Just about the only criticism of recent Vauxhall interiors was that, although well built, they didn't offer a whole lot of slick design to catch the eye. The Corsa changes that particular script with translucent ambient lighting on the centre console switchgear, one of those 'surprise and delight' features that adds the all-important showroom wow-factor. The round air vents, the stereo and big satellite navigation screen (available on high spec cars only) give the Corsa's dash a far more modern, integrated look than the somewhat piecemeal integration of technology of the old car.
Vauxhall offer a particularly wide array of trim options for buyers to personalise their model range but it's all very tastefully done with quality materials throughout. The 1.4-litre engine is offered in Exclusiv, SE, SXi and SRi trims in both the three-door and five-door body styles. An automatic gearbox is also offered but this should really only be selected if you're planning on subjecting the Corsa to a particularly onerous commute on a regular basis. Normally the diesels would be better in this regard but seeing as none of the diesel models are offered with the self-shifter this is as good as it gets.
If you're set on buying a petrol Corsa, this is the engine to choose. Bigger is usually better when it comes to petrol engines in superminis and this one is no exception. Although I'd still probably recommend the 74 or 94bhp 1.3-litre diesels if pressed to make an editor's pick, this 1.4-litre is a very capable alternative.
The results below show the top CORSA deals on buyacar
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SXi 5dr [AC] hatchback|
|Price £7,855||Save £7,140|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi  ecoFLEX Exclusiv 5dr [Start Stop] diesel hatchback|
|Price £11,083||Save £4,247|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 ecoFLEX Expression 3dr hatchback|
|Price £7,395||Save £2,100|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Limited Edition 3dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £10,355||Save £5,810|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SE 5dr Auto hatchback|
|Price £8,040||Save £7,572|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CORSA DEALS|
|For CORSA 1.4|
|OVERALL||7.2 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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