REVIEW DATE: 22 Jan 2010
Vauxhall's Corsa hasn't lost that streetwise edge. June Neary gets behind the wheel.
Out on the road, you can't help but notice the little Corsa. In the throngs of city traffic, there is very little else that can cut its way as deftly through the queues, and still leave you unruffled at the other end. The first time I met the Corsa, it seemed to beg me to drive it and I did, with great enjoyment. This latest version promised to be something special from my first glimpse of it in the car park. The latest model has a front end featuring a deep Vauxhall V-grille with aggressive air intakes under the bumper and a pair of headlamps that smear back along the wings. The result, in three-door form particularly, is a car that now has one of the most appealing shapes in the supermini sector.
I felt at home straight away. The 1.4-litre model I was driving was beautifully upholstered, and the interior was light and airy. The driving position was very comfortable, and the controls clear and easy to read. A centre console housed a logical nest of controls for the heater and stereo, all easy to use. In the five-door model I borrowed, there was room for two adults in the back but I struggled to fit two child seats in, plus a booster in the middle. Legroom was good but the payback for this was the smallish boot space. Still, take out the parcel shelf and you could still fit in some luggage if you needed to. Climb inside and, if you're used to the Astra, you'll feel immediately at home here. 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 the Astra's interior was that, although well built, it 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 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. . Around town, the Corsa is a joy to drive and while settled on longer trips, something a little larger could come in handy. The suspension is well balanced between sporty handling and comfort, giving a smooth, quiet ride even on the most potholed of country lanes. I also continue to admire the Corsa's image. It manages to avoid looking like a cartoon and, at the same time, it's smart enough for business use. What's more, for short journeys, this little Vauxhall is suitable as a family run-around. Safety is a big consideration for me in this little car. Double side-impact protection beams are installed in the doors; and the anti-submarine ramps installed into the seats stop you sliding under your seatbelt under heavy braking. Add to this reinforced rear seats (to give protection to occupants from any luggage in the boot) and full seat-belt pre-tensioners and the Corsa looks like a package that I would be happy to transport my whole family around in.
I really liked the power steering as it made running around town easy - it is only three turns from one lock to the other. Where it really came into its own was in my office car park however - the spaces are a little on the narrow side, but the compact Corsa slid in and out without any problems. The accelerator was just about right - enough zip to get me away from the lights but not so much that the front wheels spun on quick getaways. When the car was loaded, the added weight didn't seem to make that much difference, either.
For day-to-day driving, the Corsa was brilliant and I would recommend the 5-door version if you are carrying passengers, especially children, as loading is much easier. For something fun, frugal and cheap to run, I can't think of few better small cars.
The results below show the top CORSA deals on buyacar
|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 1.4 SXi 5dr [AC] hatchback|
|Price £7,026||Save £7,969|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX Limited Edition 3dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £9,855||Save £6,310|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SE 5dr hatchback|
|Price £7,360||Save £7,041|
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