Vauxhall Corsa hatchback (2014-2019)
"Offering excellent value, the Vauxhall Corsa is a practical and affordable supermini but its engines and interior fall short of rivals"
- Well equipped
- Smooth ride comfort
- Interior quality
- Dated, thirsty engine
- Not all trims get split rear seats
It's rare that the Vauxhall Corsa doesn't feature in the monthly top 10 best sellers list in the UK, such is its enduring popularity among British motorists. It's hardly a surprise, though – Vauxhall's network is one of the largest in the country, so you rarely have to stray far from home to find a dealer or a workshop.
Its impressive value for money is key to its appeal, as is a user-friendly nature that adds to its popularity among driving schools and new licensees alike, and the car was a capable rival to the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Volkswagen Polo, as well as the Kia Rio and Hyundai i20 when it was first launched. This particular model is set to be replaced in 2020 and unless you can find some big discounts, which may be possible, we’d recommend waiting for the new one; the outgoing car is showing its age, and the one engine available is uneconomical and old-fashioned compared with the ones available in newer rivals.
Although effectively a heavy facelift of its predecessor, the latest Vauxhall Corsa was nevertheless a big step forwards when it arrived in the UK in 2014. Offered with three or five doors, it introduced a sporty new style that was particularly evident in the now-discontinued high-performance Vauxhall Corsa VXR, which we reviewed separately. Even the less powerful three-door models have a youthful, fun look to them, while the five-door is a more practical choice thanks to its easier rear passenger access.
Corsa buyers are used to more engine options than just the 1.4-litre petrol left available. The engine range has contracted for a number of reasons, including falling diesel sales, stricter emissions regulations, Vauxhall’s new ownership, and this particular Corsa reaching the end of its life. The 1.4-litre is at least offered with two power outputs, with 74 or 89bhp, but fuel-economy figures from 38.2 to 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions from 128 to 150g/km are high for a supermini. Start/stop technology is offered as an optional engine choice on the 89bhp version and offers slight improvements to economy and emissions.
Betraying its mission to please every driver all of the time, the Corsa strikes a sensible compromise between comfort and driving involvement. It may not have quite the sharp reflexes and cornering fluidity of the Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza, but it certainly isn't a let down, either. It resists body lean even when driven really hard, yet the ride quality doesn't suffer too badly as a trade-off. Most will find the Corsa comfortable, although potholes can shudder through the car at low speeds.
As tends to be the way with Vauxhalls, there’s loads of choice on offer, with a wide variety of possible trims and engine combinations. These were pared back at the same time as the engine range, though, with Vauxhall reducing the number of trim levels from 11 to eight in a bid to simplify the range for customers and reduce manufacturing costs. Active, Design, Energy, Sport, SRi Nav, SE Nav, SRi VX-Line Nav Black and GSi remain and our favourite is the Corsa Design, which has air-conditioning, DAB radio, alloy wheels and cruise control, making it a real grown-up supermini. We also like Vauxhall’s latest IntelliLink infotainment system, which is easy to use and connect to your smartphone.
One concern could be the Corsa’s four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating in a class where a number of rivals have five stars. This is partly because the testing regime has become stricter recently. The Corsa has six airbags to protect occupants, as well as the usual anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
While it’s hugely popular, the Corsa has never been blessed with a great reliability record, so some owners choose to extend the three-year warranty, and Vauxhall offers several different levels of extra cover. The Vauxhall Corsa finished 92nd out of the 100 cars ranked in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.
At least the number of Vauxhall dealers across the nation is reassuring, while the Corsa’s practicality, smooth handling and well thought out interior make it a model that deserves its huge popularity, even if it’s in need of another update to keep up with rivals.