REVIEW DATE: 18 Jan 2010
It's hard not to be impressed by the latest Corsa, reviewed here in CDTi diesel form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Though first and second generation Corsa supermini models failed to set the supermini sector alight, Vauxhall's third generation version is a genuinely good car, especially in the improved diesel guise we look at here.
This model ahs been around since 2007 but under the bonnet, it's now much more class-competitive. A wider range of diesel engines are now offered, as are two body styles and a host of trim levels that aren't actually too difficult to get to grips with. The engines comprise a 75bhp 1.3-litre CDTi unit and a 90bhp version that uses much the same oily bits. The headline-maker is the frugal ecoFLEX version with a 95bhp version of this powertrain.
If you need more power, then a flagship 130bhp 1.7-litre CDTi model rounds off the range. The figures for the 1.3-litre car that most customers will end up choosing are very creditable indeed. While it's no ball of fire, getting to 60mph in around 12 seconds, midrange poke is more than acceptable. Engine refinement isn't quite as good as with its big brother.
Recompense comes in the form of excellent fuel economy, with up to 76.3mpg if you go for the frugal ecoFLEX 95bhp version. Trim levels now run through S, Exclusiv, SE, SXi and SRi. The five-door version features a more conservative profile with a flatter, longer roof section, while the real scene stealer is the three-door with its sweeping roofline and big C-pillars. The SRi mimics the looks to the VXR hot hatch.
On the road, to maintain the Corsa's incredible success in the small car class, Vauxhall's engineers have recently made important revisions to the car's steering and suspension set-ups. Softer springs have been employed in the front suspension, mated to an anti-roll bar with new bushes and an increased diameter, improving ride and control characteristics. Complementing this are revised damper settings all round, an optional re-tuned ESP system and enhanced steering geometry.
"Few industry observers would have put money on the Corsa turning out this good.."
No longer just a shopping trolley, Vauxhall's supermini these days has real visual impact. The front end features a deep V-grille with aggressive air intakes under the bumper and a pair of headlamps that smear back along the wings, ensuring that the revised Corsa is as pleasurable to drive as it is economical to own.
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 MK2 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. Other smart ideas include 'chameleon-style' Velcro and zip-off dash and trim parts that can be changed to alter the personality of the Corsa's cabin.
Equipment levels have been improved in recent times. The SE, SXi and SRi variants now get cruise control and an on-board computer, while the SRi also gets revised suspension settings, air conditioning, 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, and a VXR styling kit included in its price. The SE also packs a standard feature unique in this class: a heated leather steering wheel, complemented by heated front seats.
Like its predecessor, this Corsa is built in the same Zaragoza factory in Spain but breaks from tradition in offering a resolutely high tech approach. Halogen Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) alters the beam of the headlamp according to speed and steering input, allowing the Corsa to see further round dark corners. There's also an innovative Enhanced Understeer Control (EUC) function and convenience features such as MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Variable progressive sports power steering aims to offer finger light steering at parking speeds with a properly meaty feel when you're really in the groove.
Few industry observers would have put money on the Corsa turning out this good. None would have tipped it to be a class leader but in the diesel models, Vauxhall may well have exactly that. The response should be interesting.
The results below show the top CORSA deals on buyacar
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SXi 5dr [AC] hatchback|
|Price £8,155||Save £6,840|
|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 £7,205|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CORSA DEALS|
|For CORSA CDTi RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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