REVIEW DATE: 29 Mar 2010
Vauxhall's entry-level Corsa is now more affordable. Jonathan Crouch checks out the 1.0 petrol Expression variant
If you think that around £11,000 seems a lot of money to pay for the more basic Vauxhall Corsa supermini, then it seems you're not alone. Vauxhall itself agrees with you - which is now why they're offering a more affordable starting point for the line-up in the form of the 1.0-litre petrol Expression model that we're looking at here.
Vauxhall likes to think that its Corsa supermini is a step above models from the Korean budget brands. Nevertheless, cars like Hyundai's i20 and Kia's Rio - even GM's own Chevrolet Aveo - all are nibbling away at its market share. Hence the need for the more affordable Corsa Expression model. It comes in 3-door form only priced at around £10,000 and powered by a predictably modest 65PS 1.0-litre petrol engine. Equipment runs to everything you need and nothing you don't. The modern Corsa can give its contemporaries a run for their money in most areas, excelling with its well-built and roomy cabin as well as with its ride comfort. The 1.0-litre unit is of course frugal too and will make more sense than the pricier diesel alternatives for low mileage customers.
You won't be expecting arresting performance from this 1.0-litre Corsa - and you won't get it. Top speed is 96mph and rest to sixty takes all of 17s, enough time for the kids to complete their Sudoku and start asking if you're there yet. The advantage comes at the pumps of course as we'll see later. If you're looking for an effervescent little fizzer, don't choose this Corsa but it is a very satisfying car if you're happy taking your time.
There has never been much cause for complaint where the Corsa's ride and refinement were concerned but there was concern that it may have been lagging behind somewhat in the handling department. To counteract this, Vauxhall have revised the car's steering and suspension in recent times, bringing enhanced geometry to the former and making a whole raft of changes to upgrade the later. Today's Corsa features a more robust anti-roll bar at the front which improves the car's resistance to lean in corners. This allowed the fitment of softer springs and together with revised damper settings. They are designed to deliver a more compliant ride with greater levels of control.
No longer just a shopping trolley, the modern Corsa 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. Climb inside the Corsa displays more capacity to impress. The quality of materials used is leagues ahead of the old Corsa and there's a bulletproof feeling of build quality that's as good as anything in the sector.
"If you'd been thinking that your supermini budget limited you to one of the budget brands, then this Corsa might surprise you. In more ways than one."
Vauxhall products had previously been criticised for not offering 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 this Vauxhall's dash a modern, integrated look.
The 3-door bodystyle you get in Expression guise 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. Still, there's generous space for front seat passengers, with a very comfortable driving position courtesy of the height and reach adjustable steering wheel and the supportive seating.
As already suggested, luxury equipment is kept to a minimum with this 3-door, 1.0-litre petrol Expression model but at least safety equipment isn't in short supply. As well as the many active safety features demonstrated by its dynamic chassis design, the Corsa has been designed to offer the best levels of protection in even the most extreme circumstances. Under heavy braking, when the ABS is activated, the brake lights flash five times per second to warn following motorists, while if airbags or seatbelt pre-tensioners are activated in an accident, the car's safety system will automatically switch on the hazard warning lights.
Should an accident occur, the Corsa has been designed to offer the best protection for its occupants. Two-stage front airbags help cushion any impact, while the passenger airbag can be deactivated if using a rear-facing baby carrier via a button on the instrument panel. Seatbelt pre-tensioners secure the seatbelts to hold passengers in position, while the Pedal Release System automatically drops the pedals away from the driver's feet in the event of a heavy frontal collision. The Corsa has also been designed to meet the latest stringent passenger safety test criteria. Suddenly the 1,070kg kerb weight seems a little more excusable.
This Corsa wears the ecoFLEX badging that Vauxhall awards to its most frugal models. Expect to return 56.5mpg on the combined cycle and put out 117g/km of CO2. These are hardly startling figures in a day when some small cars are edging down to the 100g/km barrier and habitually return up to 65mpg. Still, there's no doubt that this Vauxhall will be a very affordable car to own. Overall, low prices, strong economy and low insurance costs make the Corsa an attractive proposition for supermini buyers on a tight budget but Vauxhall's aggressive pricing and use of promotional special edition models means that residual values will be a little bit below the best in the class. That's a price that most will be willing to pay for the modest expense associated with owning a Corsa.
Vauxhall needed to get a bit real with its pricing policy and in this respect, adding 'Expression' models as starting points for all its mainstream model ranges is a step in the right direction. If you'd been thinking that your supermini budget limited you to one of the budget brands, then this Corsa might surprise you. In more ways than one.
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 £7,572|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CORSA DEALS|
|For CORSA EXPRESSION 1.0|
|OVERALL||7.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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