Review

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback

Price  £8,995 - £17,005

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Decent practicality
  • Efficient engines
  • Stylish looks
Cons
  • Not as fun to drive as rivals
  • Poor equipment levels
  • Rough and noisy engines

At a glance

"The Vauxhall Corsa isn't as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta but it remains one of the best selling cars in the UK."

The current Vauxhall Corsa made a big splash when it launched in 2006 and quickly established itself as one of the best superminis on the market. It's been a solid best-seller ever since, but age is beginning to catch up with it and it has been surpassed by rivals like the Kia Rio, Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. It still looks the part, and it has a spacious interior that offers plenty of storage and room for passengers, and comes as either a five or three-door.

An exterior redesign, an interior update and some mechanical improvements in 2010 have helped to ensure it doesn’t slip too far behind the standard set by the leading superminis, but the Corsa is hampered by several factors. It's not as good to drive as the Ford Fiesta, the engines are rougher than most other rivals, it has a high list price and equipment levels could be better. That said, you can expect a hefty discount on new cars, and there's plenty of used examples to choose from if your budget can't stretch quite that far.

A new Vauxhall Corsa is expected to launch towards the end of 2014.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.0 / 5

Economical Corsa is competitive when it comes to running costs

The Corsa comes with a choice of five engines. There's a 64bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine, an 84bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, and a 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine. All three do between 50 and 55mpg and emit less than 130g/km CO2. But they all feel underpowered and have to be worked hard to be of much use. There's also a pair of 1.3-litre CDTi diesel engines, which – in its most efficient form – will do 85.6mpg and emit just 88g/km CO2, making it the most economical model in the line-up and road tax exempt.

The Corsa has long service intervals, which help keep bills to a minimum. And Vauxhall offers a 100,000-mile lifetime warranty for the first owner, which ensures you won’t have to fork out a fortune to fix an expensive fault.

Interior & comfort

2.2 / 5

The engines are a bit noisy, but the Corsa is a comfortable car

When the Corsa first launched it led the supermini class in terms of comfort and space – feeling like a much bigger car from the inside. Rivals have caught up with it since then, so it doesn't really stand out in this regard like it used to, but it's still a comfortable car.

Some of the higher specification models – SXi and SRi – come with sports suspension, which compromises the comfortable ride but don’t really make any appreciable difference to the car's performance, so we’d advise steering clear of them.

Unfortunately, the engines are a bit gruff, too. The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.3-litre diesel are particularly noisy – mainly because they lack power and you really have to work the throttle to get anywhere fast. Both engines struggle to keep up at motorway speeds, too. Until recently, Vauxhall offered a larger 1.7-litre CDTi diesel engine which was smooth and powerful – but the firm is no longer producing the Corsa with this engine, which is a shame because it was the best of the line-up. That said, you may find some dealers still have a few in stock that they’ve yet to sell, in which case we’d recommend it.

Practicality & boot space

3.0 / 5

Corsa boasts a decent sized boot and plenty of interior space

Vauxhall has done a great job of making the most of the space on offer inside the Corsa. There's plenty of room for passengers, an array of useful storage cubbyholes and the boot is a decent 285 litres. That's better than the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but not by much – and nowhere near a match for the Honda Jazz. Still, if you fold down the rear seats you can expand the load space to a massive 1,100 litres, so the Corsa should more than meet your needs unless you’re regularly carrying bulky items and passengers.

A false boot floor with a niftily little storage compartment is available as an optional extra, which is useful for storing valuable out of sight – as is an integrated bicycle carrier that slides out from under the rear of the car. It's a useful addition if you're a keen cyclist, but it's an expensive option so be sure you're going to use it before you fork out your hard-earned cash.

Reliability & safety

2.7 / 5

Full marks for safety but low scores for customer satisfaction

The Vauxhall Corsa scored the maximum five-star safety rating when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP back in 2006. It comes fitted with electronic stability control, an array of airbags and an advanced ABS system, so safety isn’t an issue.

Unfortunately reliability might be, if customer feedback is anything to go by. Modern Vauxhalls do seem to have a much higher level of build quality compared to older models, but customers are yet to be impressed if the annual Driver Power satisfaction survey is anything to go by. The 2013 rankings saw the brand plummet 13 places to finish 26th out of 32 manufacturers, and only three of its models managed to crack the top 100 cars league table.

However, the firm is evidently confident of its cars’ reliability, as it offers a 100,000 mile lifetime warranty for the car's first owner – so you can be confident the repair for any faults will be covered for quite some time.

Engines, drive & performance

2.5 / 5

The Corsa is capable but it can’t compete with the best in class

The Corsa is the second best selling supermini in the UK after the Ford Fiesta. Unfortunately, sales success is not the only area where the Corsa lives in the Ford's shadow – because it can’t compete with the Fiesta for driving enjoyment either. The Vauxhall is too lifeless on the road to come close to challenging the best in the supermini class.

The engine range lags behind rivals, too. The petrol engines just don’t offer enough power, and the efficient 1.3-litre diesel engine is too noisy. To make matters worse, Vauxhall has recently stopped selling the Corsa with a 1.7-litre diesel engine, which was the one decent performer in the line-up. Buyers looking for a little more raw speed should consider the high-performance Vauxhall Corsa VXR – which does 0-60mph in just 7.2 seconds and will hit 140mph.

Otherwise, the Corsa is better suited as a town runabout, where its lack of power isn’t such an issue.

Price, value for money & options

2.7 / 5

Entry level models are sparsely equipped

The Vauxhall Corsa is priced on a par with the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Hyundai i20, but isn’t as well equipped, or as well built. Entry-level models have particularly low equipment levels – Sting and S spec models do without air-con, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, while Vauxhall's particularly weak residuals mean the Corsa is likely to drop rapidly in value from the minute you drive it away from the dealer.

However, Vauxhalls are usually priced to allow some room for haggling, which means if you’re prepared to negotiate you could get a big discount on the list price.

What the others say

2.3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • The cabin has been lifted with new upholstery shades and different colour door trims, centre console and handles. Vauxhall will also offer its new Touch and Connect multimedia system, which features a CD player, USB and auxiliary inputs, as well as Bluetooth compatibility and a five-inch touchscreen display for the sat-nav.

  • 3.0 / 5

    "A great-value car, the Vauxhall Corsa is best in the mid-level trims. It's also comfortable and has a roomy, high-quality cabin."

  • 4.0 / 5

    "The new version of the Vauxhall Corsa was launched in 2006 and was a major leap forward over the older, duller model it replaced. With sharp styling and a great interior it's a huge improvement over its predecessor offering more space, comfort and refinement."

Last updated 
22 Jan 2014

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