Vauxhall Corsa hatchback (2006-2014) - Engines, drive & performance
The Vauxhall Corsa offers inferior handling compared to the class-leading Ford Fiesta, and petrol engines aren’t great.
As it’s so popular with driving schools across the country, you’d expect the Vauxhall Corsa to be easy to drive. However, the truth is that while the Corsa is relatively competent, there are far more user-friendly superminis available.
The steering takes a bit more effort than some rivals, while the five-speed gearbox found on most models has a positive shift, although the big gearlever feels cumbersome in your hand. That steering doesn’t offer much feedback about what the front wheels are doing, and most engines feel pretty lifeless. The same can be said about the chassis, which is set up for comfort and refinement rather than agility.
In town, the Corsa irons out bumps well, although some of the larger wheel options do spoil comfort somewhat. Things are reasonable on the motorway, too, although the underpowered engines in the range can become noisy when pressing on. It’s not a problem for the majority of journeys, but you would certainly think twice before embarking on a long motorway trip in a 1.0-litre petrol model, for example.
Vauxhall Corsa diesel engines
If you want a diesel, then the 88g/km version of the 1.3-litre CDTi is the best choice. It’s not much slower than the higher-output versions, it manages 0-62mph in 14.4 seconds (compared to 11.9 seconds for the standard diesel) and you’ll benefit from the lowest running costs.
Vauxhall Corsa petrol engines
In the petrol range, you should avoid the 1.0-litre three-cylinder, as its low power output means it takes a lethargic 17 seconds to get from 0-62mph. Also, you have to work it hard to make progress, so you won’t get near the claimed fuel economy figure as a result. The 1.2-litre is a better bet, but it’s still worth spending a little more on the 1.4-litre petrol, which is a little more capable when the car is heavily loaded.
Unlike most rivals, electronic stability control isn’t available on all models of Corsa. The cheapest 1.0-litre models do without it, so they’re probably best avoided, particularly if a younger or inexperienced driver will be at the wheel.
Safety testing body Euro NCAP now insists that a car can’t earn a five-star crash test rating without stability, so while the Corsa received a five-star rating when it was first tested, it wouldn’t get that score if it was re-tested today.