REVIEW DATE: 19 Oct 2007
It's hard not to be impressed by the latest Corsa, reviewed here in CDTi diesel form. Andy Enright reports.
Although Vauxhall probably won't thank me for reminding them, you don't have to wind the clock back too far to the days when the Corsa represented everything that was run of the mill about the company. At its best, Vauxhall can produce some wonderful cars. When they're freewheeling, you get vehicles like the old Corsa, barely average in most every regard. The company's issue had long been that it did the niche products well but the potentially big revenue earners were never anything to get excited about. In recent years this has changed, and the current Corsa hammers that point home with real exuberance. The diesel model seen here unceremoniously elbows aside its established rivals in aiming at the supermini top spot.
Before we start getting too harsh on older Corsa models, let's not forget that it's only petrolheads like us that turned their noses up at them. The vast majority of the public found previous Corsas perfectly acceptable and even made the MK2 model the UK's best selling supermini of 2005, easily outselling the likes of the Renault Clio, the Ford Fiesta and the Peugeot 206. Even with this level of success, Vauxhall realised it wouldn't take long for the public to twig that the next generation of superminis such as the Peugeot 207, the Fiat Grande Punto and the Renault Clio III would put a number on the Corsa and responded in 2007 with a serious broadside.
Three diesel engines are 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, with a flagship 125bhp 1.7-litre CDTi rounding off the range. The figures for the 1.3-litre 90bhp car that most customers will end up choosing are very creditable indeed. While it's no ball of fire, getting to 60mph in 11.9 seconds, midrange poke is more than acceptable. Engine refinement isn't quite as good as with its big brother.
"The Corsa diesel is genuinely knock your socks off impressive"
Recompense comes in the form of excellent fuel economy, registering the same 61.4mpg figure as the 75bhp version - or up to 76.3mpg if you go for the frugal ecoFLEX version. Vauxhall has deliberately configured the Corsa's trim, transmissions and pricing structures so that 75bhp and 90bhp engines are never offered in the same body style, with the same gearbox and in identical trim, making it hard to gauge how big the step up in price between the two engines is. Trim levels run through Life, Club, SXi, Design and SRi. The 75bhp engine available in the first two trims, the 90bhp in the next two and the 125bhp is offered in the last two. 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.
No longer just a shopping trolley, the Corsa these days has real impact. The front end features a deep Vauxhall V-grille with aggressive air intakes under the bumper and a pair of headlamps that smear back along the wings. Bigger than the model it replaced, this Corsa shares a platform with Fiat's Grande Punto, the benefit of a rather complicated relationship between Fiat and General Motors that's too convoluted to go into here. Suffice to say, you may be reminded of the pretty Fiat when you spot the window by the A-pillar and the rather unconventional door outlines.
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.
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 £8,119||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 £9,855||Save £6,310|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SE 5dr Auto hatchback|
|Price £8,040||Save £7,572|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CORSA DEALS|
|For CORSA CDTi RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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