Used Vauxhall Corsa buying guide: 2006-2014 (Mk4)
A perennial best seller, the Vauxhall Corsa’s popularity means secondhand buyers are spoilt for choice
Every year, roughly 100,000 British buyers take delivery of a new Vauxhall Corsa, with 720,000 Mk4 examples sold during the model’s seven-year production run. Numbers like that mean that secondhand buyers can take their pick from used Corsas, and while the current model has only been out for a couple of years, the previous-generation Corsa still feels like a relatively modern car.
There are, it must be said, sharper-handling superminis out there, as well as better-looking ones – but the Corsa is such a thoroughly component all-rounder, it’s easy to see why it’s something of a default choice for many. The sheer number of Vauxhall dealerships is also reassuring, while the wide range of engines and trims offered explains why company-car fleet managers frequently offer employees a Corsa.
In fact, variety is one of the Corsa’s problems, as the sheer number of different models is somewhat daunting. Configure a new Corsa today and you’ll have to pick from 11 different trims – and that’s before you’ve even started to think about engines.
There are definite plus points to the Mk4 Corsa, though: it’s spacious for a supermini, easy to drive, cheap to run and maintain, while Euro NCAP gave it the full five stars when its crash-worthiness was assessed. It’s also pretty quiet on the motorway and offers an engaging enough experience if you fancy pressing on along winding country roads.
If you’re in the market for a Corsa, go for a post-2011 facelifted model if you can – you’ll be getting a fresher-looking car with more equipment and a noticeably nicer interior.
Which is the best Corsa D version?
The sheer number of Corsa models available can be overwhelming, so the best approach is probably to decide exactly which version you want and then narrow down your search accordingly.
A few versions stand out. For example, the 1.2-litre SXi is a very good all-rounder, with a decent engine for economy and performance, enough kit inside and some attractive styling tweaks. It also has slightly firmer suspension to improve handling, but if that’s not your preference, the SE or Design trims are more comfortable.
For higher-mileage drivers, the 1.3-litre CDTi diesel is hard to beat, although you are sacrificing refinement for low running costs, as it’s not the quietest. There’s also a large 1.7-litre diesel, with an impressive 125bhp, but higher running costs than the smaller engine.
If you can afford it, go for a post-2011 Corsa, as the facelift noticeably improved the interior and add extra equipment, along with more modern styling.
Clearly geared towards low running costs from the outset, the Corsa is unlikely to break the bank whatever version you go for. Saying that, for the lowest costs possible, you’ll want the 1.3-litre CDTI ecoFLEX diesel, which can return over 80mpg and has sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, making it free to tax. For shorter trips, the petrol engines are decently economical, too, with the 1.2-litre returning 48mpg and emitting 139g/km of CO2 for a yearly tax bill of £130.
Servicing is required every 20,000 miles or annually, depending on which comes first. It costs from £170 to £220 for a petrol and £190 to £360 for a diesel. It’s also worth noting that the 1.7-litre diesel is the only Corsa engine fitted with a cambelt, which must be changed every 10 years or 60,000 miles, at a significant expense. A car approaching this age without a new cambelt should be priced accordingly.
Vauxhall Corsa Mk3: what to look out for
Perhaps surprisingly given its popularity, the Corsa has struggled in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming 140th out of 150 models in 2014. Its scores for ride and handling weren’t bad, but its reliability was deemed average and its in-car technology not great.
The Mk3 Corsa has had seven official recalls, two concerning possible handbrake failure in June 2010 and September 2011. In February and December 2007, vehicles were recalled for possible steering failure, with the first down to potentially faulty suspension components and the latter concerning the steering column itself, which could result in a loss of control if it broke.
Braking also came under scrutiny in June 2008 and September 2011, with checks to the anti-lock braking system and brake pedal. Ensure you know which recalls apply to any vehicle you’re considering buying and check all necessary work has been carried out.
Other issues affecting the Corsa can include the steering rack, particularly when larger alloy wheels are fitted, so take a test drive to ensure the steering is smooth. While you’re at it, be on the alert for a juddering clutch pedal, an issue that can return even after it’s fixed.
The radiator is another potential weak point, so check under the bonnet and nose of the car for any leaks, observe the coolant level and ask the owner if they ever have to top it up. Interior quality can be patchy, so listen out for squeaks and rattles, check for any trim that has come adrift and open and close the glovebox lid a few times, as this can break. Another recall in 2016 concerns around 2,700 Corsas built between July 2012 and September 2014 in Eisenach, Germany and fitted with the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Lastly, if air-conditioning is fitted, ensure it works as expected. While all air-conditioning systems need a recharge every few years, if the air doesn’t blow cold at all, it could be because of an issue with leaking pipes, which is more expensive to fix.
Should I buy one?
The Vauxhall Corsa is an affordable car to buy and run that can also be quite good fun to drive. The sheer choice of used examples makes the Corsa an appealing buy, especially in the five-door bodystyle with its extra practicality. It’s also cheap to insure, making it popular with new drivers.
Rivals like the Ford Fiesta might better suit keen drivers, while the Volkswagen Polo has a smarter interior, but the Corsa’s value and huge range of options ensure its popularity. Try to avoid the gutless 1.0-litre petrol engine and most basic trim levels and the Corsa makes a good used purchase.
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