REVIEW DATE: 06 Feb 2007
With the impressive Corsa supermini as a base vehicle, it was always going to be difficult for Vauxhall's latest Corsavan to go far wrong. Steve Walker reports.
The car-derived van sector is an interesting one. Unlike with larger purpose-built commercial vehicles, we usually have a reasonably accurate picture of how each new entrant into this market is going to turn out. After all, its arrival will usually have been clearly heralded many months beforehand by the emergence of the passenger car on which it is based. It's a state of affairs that begs the key question: do the same qualities that make a good passenger car also make a good car-derived van? If the answer is yes, then it all bodes rather well for Vauxhall's latest Corsavan.
Obviously, if you want to shift large and/or heavy payloads, a commercial vehicle based on a supermini is not going to be the model for you. Where this kind of van comes into its own is with operators who only ever have small cargos in tow, who do a lot of their driving around towns where road and parking space is at a premium and who may value the image projected buy a trendy supermini as opposed to a bluff panel van.
Vauxhall's Corsa is certainly one of the most stylish superminis amongst the current crop. Fiat's Grande Punto might have the edge in terms of unfettered elegance but the Corsa's edgy lines offer a snappy, sporty flavour that has definite appeal. The Corsavan utilises the body shape of the three-door Corsa supermini with the roof and window lines parting company at the B-pillars and falling away separately towards the tailgate. The Corsavan's rear windows are panelled over, of course, but the curve of the passenger car's glasshouse remains clearly visible and the arched roofline adds to the coupe-like tension in the styling.
The five-door Corsa's higher roof would have boosted the space available inside the Corsavan but there's still 0.92m3 of volume back there and operators who find this model's capacity on the lower limits of what they can get away with would be better advised to go for a larger model anyway - Vauxhall's own Astravan or Combo perhaps. This load volume is actually 0.2m3 smaller than what was available in the rear of the pervious generation Corsavan but the 550kg maximum payload is an impressive 85kg improvement and looks competitive next to rival models.
"Another Vauxhall van comes in well above par"
Vauxhall have done a thorough job on the load area itself, commendably resisting the financial pressures that might have led them down the crude 'chop out the rear seats, chuck in a load mat' route that's sometimes followed in car-derived commercials. The Corsavan does suffer from significant intrusion into the load area at the sides but the space is lined with tough grooved plastic up to the window line so there's nothing to catch your cargo on as it's slid inside. The protection offered by this plastic lining against knocks and scrapes to the van or what it's carrying is first class and there's a full-height mesh bulkhead that combines decent rear visibility with further protection - this time for the backs of the driver and passenger's heads.
The Corsa supermini set new standards for interior build quality and the front of the Corsavan shares this class-leading cabin design that feels all the more superior in a commercial vehicle. Operators harbouring concerns about the kind of soft touch materials and fancy design features that manufacturers include to titillate supermini buyers coming off second best following a few years of hard commercial usage can relax. The Corsa is a sturdily-built customer with chunky controls and durable materials that should cope with all the dust, dirt, rough treatment and spilt tea that your drivers can dish out. All Corsavan models feature a CD stereo, central locking, electric mirrors and tinted tailgate glass, while space for driver and passenger is generous and there's a reasonable amount of storage space for a supermini-derived model.
The nation's van drivers can harass their fleet managers as much as they like but no amount of bribery or blackmail is going to land them a Corsavan with the 190bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the Corsa VXR hothatch. Vauxhall, quite sensibly, won't be offering it. Parsimony not pace, is the name of the game where small vans are concerned, hence the 1.2-litre petrol (79bhp) and 1.3-litre CDTi diesel (74bhp) units that Corsavan customers can select from. There's a £400 premium for the diesel model and this will be worth paying if your Corsavan will be covering high mileages. Operators can expect around 48mpg from the petrol but over 70mpg is well within the realms of possibility if you select the ecoFLEX version of the oil-burner with its Start/Stop technology. The diesel feels quicker too, the ecoFLEX model offering 190Nm of torque available from 1,750rpm compared to 110Nm at 4,000rpm in the petrol. The CDTi powerplant is noisier, however, with the petrol unit only sounding harsh when you enter the upper limits of the rev-range - something you'll be forced to do quite regularly given the modest pulling power.
The Corsa rides and steers very adroitly. The suspension does a superb job of soaking up bumps on the flat and dispatches speed humps with suitable distain. It's not the sharpest handling supermini platform you'll encounter but its close enough for that exemplary ride comfort to give it an overall edge. Visibility is also very good, aided by the small windows cut in below the A pillars which help minimise the blind spot on roundabouts. You sit a long way back from the base of the sharply raked windscreen and without practice, it can be a little difficult to pinpoint where the front of the car actually is but a tight turning circle and light steering help to simplify tricky parking tasks.
If we're talking about compact dimensions, affordable running costs, manoeuvrability and pugnacious good looks, then the characteristics that constitute a successful supermini transfer very nicely into the car-derived van arena. The Corsavan displays the lot with the twin added benefits of impressive comfort and a high quality construction. Just as rival superminis have struggled to match it in the passenger car arena, rival car-derived vans have themselves a tough act to follow. Another Vauxhall van comes in well above par.
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|
|OVERALL||7.7 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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