Vauxhall Corsa hatchback
Price £9,745 - £18,125
- Spacious interior and big boot
- Good value for money
- Very comfortable
- Seats feel cheap
- Ford Fiesta more fun to drive
- Question marks over reliability
At a glance
“The Vauxhall Corsa is a sensible, practical supermini that offers good value for money and makes a strong case for itself against the competition.”
When the Vauxhall Nova first arrived in the UK back in 1984, it was known on the continent as the Opel Corsa, with Vauxhall adopting that name for the Nova’s 1993 replacement. Since then, the Vauxhall Corsa has seen continuing popularity as a small family car, competing against the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208.
There is an army of other superminis available these days, though, and not only does the Vauxhall Corsa have to fight for customers against experienced rivals like the Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Toyota Yaris, but it also has to fend off relative newcomers like the Kia Rio and Hyundai i20.
Vauxhall has worked hard to keep the Corsa fresh and modern, with the latest, all-new model launched in 2014. That work is essential in this class, as the Ford Fiesta is constantly improving while always being praised for being great to drive. Meanwhile no small car has managed to topple the Volkswagen Polo from holding the title of classiest, best-built supermini.
The Corsa is available as a three or five-door car. The three-door carries a rather sportier look, especially in the performance-orientated Vauxhall Corsa VXR, which we’ve reviewed separately. The three-door version is a lot less practical than the sensible five-door, whose rear seats are less cramped and feel considerably easier to get in and out of.
There’s a great choice of petrol and diesel engines for the Corsa, the best of which is the 113bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol if you’re a low-mileage driver . It’s a modern, quiet engine that is able to achieve fuel economy of 57.6mpg, and has low enough CO2 emissions to cost just £30 per year in road tax. It’s also the quickest of all the petrol engines apart from the super-sporty VXR.
Drivers covering over 12,000 miles are likely to find one of the diesels more suitable, and our favourite is the 94bhp 1.3-litre CDTi. This can achieve 88.3mpg and is actually exempt from road tax, thanks to very low CO2 emissions. This is a far nicer engine to live with than the less expensive 74bhp version of the same engine – 0-62mph takes a rather pedestrian 14.8 seconds and the car feels underpowered.
The Vauxhall Corsa has never been able to beat the Ford Fiesta for driving fun, but the latest version is closer than ever before. There’s plenty of grip in corners and a decent feeling of stability with little body lean, and it manages this without the suspension being so firm that it makes the car uncomfortable.
There’s an astonishing breadth of choice in the Vauxhall Corsa range, with numerous trim levels with each of the engine choices. Our favourite of all the various models is the Corsa Design. Its excellent list of standard equipment includes air-conditioning, cruise-control, DAB radio and alloy wheels, plus the driving seat is height adjustable. It also has Vauxhall’s IntelliLink system, enabling your smartphone to connect with the car’s dashboard-mounted touchscreen.
The Design has most features anybody could need in a Corsa, though there are high-specification special trim-levels such as the Corsa Limited Edition and Black Edition. These are both very well appointed, each boasting unique extra styling tweaks, but their higher prices are difficult to justify with the less expensive models being so well equipped.
The Vauxhall Corsa does lag slightly behind its rivals in terms of safety. It was given a four-star rating after independent Euro NCAP crash testing, while some rivals are five-star cars. This lower rating reflects the Corsa’s shortage of anti-collision technology, though there are six airbags and all the mandatory safety equipment such as anti-lock brakes.
The Corsa has never enjoyed a great reputation for reliability with many owners choosing to extend the standard three-year warranty – your Vauxhall dealer can do this for around £220 a year. This latest generation of Corsa, though, has yet to show that improvements have been made and we await feedback from our next Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
The convenience of there being so many local Vauxhall dealers coupled with Vauxhall Corsa’s qualities as an easy-to-drive, well-designed small family car, means it remains a popular choice as a small family car.
The Vauxhall Corsa offers a choice of efficient petrol and diesel engines to buyers
The Vauxhall Corsa is available with a gutsy turbo petrol engine and handles well
Tactile materials and redesigned suspension help to make the Vauxhall Corsa very comfortable inside.
The Vauxhall Corsa offers good leg and headroom, as well as a large boot
The old Vauxhall Corsa performed poorly in our Driver Power survey, but new car is an unknown quantity