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Used Vauxhall Corsa review: 2014-2019 (Mk4) - Engines, drive and performance

Some of its engines lack verve, but overall the Corsa Mk4 offers a refined, comfortable drive that will satisfy most owners

Carbuyer Rating

2.6 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive and performance Rating

2.0 out of 5

The Vauxhall Corsa Mk4 isn’t as exciting to drive as some rivals, but driven in isolation it’s refined, comfortable and moderately enjoyable. Some of its engines – the 1.3-litre diesels and 1.2-litre petrol in particular – are sluggish to the point of frustration, but the others provide adequate performance and the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol of the VXR is truly exhilarating. 

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Generally, the Corsa Mk4 goes about its business in an unfussed manner, thanks to low noise levels, compliant suspension and relaxed power delivery. So while it isn’t the quickest supermini out there, in everyday driving most owners will find little to complain about.

What’s the Corsa Mk4 like to drive?

The Corsa Mk4 is undemanding to drive. With the exception of those powering the GSi and VXR models, its engines don’t provide racy performance and you therefore don’t feel compelled to hustle down the road. Instead, you cruise along serenely at a modest pace, enjoying a sense of all-round refinement. 

Comfortable suspension and good body control add to the feeling of wellbeing, and while the Corsa Mk4’s steering isn’t as precise and quick as that of some rivals, there’s still plenty of pleasure to be had from threading it through a series of bends on a quiet back road. The steering’s power assistance has a ‘city’ setting that makes it super-light, useful for when you’re trying to slot into a tight parking space. 

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The VXR is a completely different beast to the rest of the Corsa Mk4 range. Explosively powerful and with very stiff suspension, it’s a bit of a blunt instrument, but beloved by its fans.

Which engine should I choose? 

Unless you regularly travel more than 12,000 miles a year, then a petrol-engined Corsa Mk4 makes the most sense. And of the Corsa’s petrol engines, the turbocharged, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre is the pick of the bunch, whether it’s the version with 89bhp or one with 114bhp.

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The 1.0-litre engine makes a characterful sound; both versions provide spirited acceleration (0-62mph in 11.9 seconds for the lower-powered unit, 10.3 seconds for its sibling), and depending which model Corsa Mk4 they’re fitted to, fuel economy ranges from 56.5mpg to 65.7mpg. Some models are even road tax-exempt. 

The higher-powered 1.0-litre engine offers easy-going performance on the motorway, too, although if you cover a high mileage annually you should also consider the 1.3-litre turbocharged diesel engine, preferably the more powerful version of the two with 94bhp. It’s not quite as lively as the 1.0-litre petrol, or as refined, but the fact that it can deliver up to 88.3mpg means that its running costs are lower. In common with the 1.0-litre petrol, some models are road tax-exempt or in a low tax bracket.

If you need a Corsa Mk4 with an automatic gearbox then your engine choice is already made for you – the 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is the only one available with the option of Vauxhall’s Easytronic automatic gearbox. This engine and gearbox combo provides only modest performance and the quality of the gearshifts is occasionally clunky, but if you can’t, or don’t want to, drive a manual it’s your sole route to Corsa Mk4 ownership.

Speed lovers will thrill to the 202bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine of the VXR.

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