Car Reviews Vauxhall

King Corsa is the Supermini to beat

Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Design
ENGINE: 1.4i
0-60: 11.8 secs
Top Speed: 107mph
Economy: 46.3 mpg Combined
OTR Price: £12,624

VAUXHALL has an impressive pedigree for producing extremely modular small cars. Since the first generation Corsa ceared back in 1993, the model has over dropped out of the Top 10 sales lists.

But Vauxhall’s first hatchback came early 20 years earlier, in 1974, in the form of the Chevette. Its distinctive aerodynamic styling md rear-wheel-drive made it popular with they young car-buying public, and no doubt many of us will look back upon it as a first car.

The Chevette sold well throughout its life and was very popular as as a ~sed buy, but the real revolution came In 1983, with the launch of the Nova. It came in distinctively different bOdystyles for both three and five¬door models and was also offered as a two or four-door saloon. With its overhead cam engines, slick and fully independent passenger space. Then, in 1993, came the Corsa and its funky looks and style appealed to the young right from the off. The second-generation Corsa debuted in 2000 and, once again, it proved a huge hit with younger buyers, thanks in no small part to its affordable running costs.

The third generation “New Corsa” arrived in 2006, and built upon its predecessors’ popularity, picking up
numerous Best Supermini accolades along the way. The Corsa now comes in three petrol engines and three diesels, plus five trim levels, with hip names like Expression, Life, Club, Design and SXi.

I drove the 1.4 Design, which came with a load of kit as-standard, including air conditioning, rain¬sensitive wipers and automatic lighting controls, plus some extras like 17in alloy wheels and a CD/MP3 player with sat nav, Quality materials are used throughout the cabin, and you get the feeling that the Corsa is mnch bigger than it really is.

The dash is uncluttered with just two main dials and the smaller petrol gauge. The central controls, with a silver surround to them, might not be to everyone’s tastes – in fact, it was rather like being stared at by an owl. The dash illumination in my test car wasn’t to my taste – everything seemed to be lit in a dim shade of browny / orange. It gave the interior a bit of 70s feel, at odds with the funky, modern exterior look. The small screen satnav also seemed like it was from an old Atari game.

But there are many reasons why the Corsa is the roaring success it is.

That sleek look has really attracted the younger end of the market, helped not a little by the little “c’mon” rag doll things on the adverts. It’s a great looking car, with plenty of head and leg room for all in both the three and five-seater.

The boot is a decent size and from the mid-range Club trim upwards you can split the rear seats and drop the boot floor, too. 

Performance-wise, the Corsa isn’t going to take your breath away with its drive. With the 1.4 I drove returning figures of 0-60 in a little under 12 seconds and with a top speed of 107mph means that the smaller engines are going to labour a little.

But the Corsa isn’t meant to be a performance car and it’s the overall package that is so appealing. The drive is good, handling is tight and cornering steady. It handles well around town but will cope with motorways too. Noise inside the cabin’s more than acceptable, too. Visibility is good generally although the sloping windscreen pillars that help give the Corsa its funky appearance get in the way.

The younger buyer generally wants a motor that’s not going to spend too long at the petrol station, too, so the Corsa’s economy figures of 46 mpg are going to be an an added attraction. Vauxhall have made the pricing attractive, too. The base model comes in at a very reasonable £7,995 going up to just over £13,000.

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