In-depth Reviews

Vauxhall Corsa GSi hatchback (2018-2020)

"With a less powerful engine than the VXR, the Vauxhall Corsa GSi is more affordable to insure and run. It's just a shame the GSi lacks the polish of the best 'warm' hatchbacks"

Carbuyer Rating

2.6 out of 5

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Pros

  • Cheaper to insure than VXR
  • Looks the part
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • Should be cheaper
  • Flat exhaust note
  • Only three doors

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR has been discontinued, but fans of spicy hatchbacks with a Griffin badge are being catered for with the Corsa GSi until the next VXR arrives – potentially with hybrid power.

It shares most of its chassis upgrades with the VXR, but a smaller engine should make the GSi more accessible to younger drivers, or those after lower running costs. It returns up to 49.6mpg, compared to just 37mpg from the more powerful hot hatch.

With a near-identical bodykit to the VXR, the GSi certainly looks the part. A large rear wing, side skirts, air vents and deep grille set it apart from lesser superminis. The GSi also boasts a carbon-effect finish for the door mirrors and grille, bi-xenon headlights, privacy glass and 17-inch alloy wheels (with 18s as an option).

Practicality is somewhat limited by the GSi being a three-door, especially when bulky bucket seats are fitted, but boot space and interior room are the same as in a standard Corsa. Sporty features have been added to help set a motorsport tone, from sculpted sports the seats to a flat-bottomed steering wheel and even GSi-branded floor mats.

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine kicking out 148bhp, the GSi doesn't push occupants back into their seats as much as the 202bhp Corsa VXR, but it does sit 10 insurance groups lower. That might be even more important to some customers than its 8.9-second 0-62mph time, which is on a par with the 138bhp Ford Fiesta ST-Line and slightly slower than a Suzuki Swift Sport, but a long way down from rivals like the 197bhp Ford Fiesta ST.

Handling ability is arguably more important, and here the GSi should give warm-hatch drivers plenty of confidence. There's plenty of grip, and the reduction in power actually seems to help the GSi rocket out of corners without overwhelming the tyres in a flurry of wheelspin. The brakes respond strongly and the gearlever has a shorter throw than the standard Corsa. It's just a shame the exhaust sounds rather flat and the somewhat numb Corsa can't quite match the polish of its closest rivals, or the cheeky sense of fun of cheaper models like the Volkswagen up! GTI.

A four-star Euro NCAP score for crash safety will be of some concern, even if the Corsa comes with autonomous emergency braking and a range of airbags as standard. In our 2018 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the Corsa came 67th out of the top 75 models on sale in the UK.

Price could be the GSi's biggest issue, though, as it nudges over £20,000 with just one option pack ticked. That makes it more expensive than the Suzuki Swift Sport and Ford Fiesta ST-Line, and priced too close to far more potent hatchbacks. Discounts and attractive finance deals may well make the GSi more affordable, however, and lower running costs are sure to appeal.

MPG, running costs & CO2

It's cheaper to run than the VXR and the Vauxhall Corsa GSi will be much easier to insure

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, the GSi has a smaller engine than the outgoing 1.6-litre VXR, with 148 versus 202bhp. It's nowhere near as fast in a straight line, then, but crucially it has a very similar chassis, 17-inch alloy wheels and grippy Michelin tyres, so it should be nearly as much fun to drive along a country lane.

The GSi nips from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, matching the Fiesta ST-Line and just behind the 8.1-second Swift Sport. Its gearshifts that have a snappier action than the standard Corsa, but still feels a bit rubbery. The engine feels quick enough on the move, with plenty of grunt at low revs as well as a willingness to rev. It's a shame the single-pipe exhaust isn't a bit more tuneful though, rather letting the side down.

With less power than the VXR and plenty of adhesion, the GSi is confidence-inspiring to drive, feeling planted through corners and powering neatly out of them. The brakes feel slightly numb, but with lots of stopping power, so you should never get caught out. Our only real complaint is that the GSi can feel rather similar to a lesser Corsa until you up the ante, so it might not seem thar special – or worth the extra money – on every journey. A lack of finesse also means it feels clumsy next to talented rivals like the Ford Fiesta ST.

Engines, drive & performance

148bhp is enough power to make the Vauxhall Corsa GSi feel lively

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, the GSi has a smaller engine than the outgoing 1.6-litre VXR, with 148 versus 202bhp. It's not as punchy in a straight line, then, but crucially it has a very similar chassis, 17-inch alloy wheels and grippy Michelin tyres, so it should be very nearly as much fun to drive along a country lane.

The GSi nips from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, matching the Fiesta ST-Line and just behind the 8.1-second Swift Sport, with satisfying gearshifts that have a snappier action than the standard Corsa. The engine feels quick enough on the move, with plenty of grunt at low revs as well as a willingness to rev. It's a shame the single-pipe exhaust isn't a bit more tuneful though, rather letting the side down.

With less power than the VXR and plenty of adhesion, the GSi is confidence-inspiring to drive, feeling planted through corners and powering neatly out of them. The brakes are good too, with plenty of feel through the pedal and lots of stopping power, so you should never get caught out. Our only real complaint is that the GSi can feel rather similar to a lesser Corsa until you up the ante, so it might not seem thar special – or worth the extra money – on every journey.

Interior & comfort

Sporting features and decent equipment levels make the Corsa a good place to spend time

Vauxhall has included the usual additions to the GSi to lend it a sporting flavour, from figure-hugging front seats to privacy glass and a leather flat-bottomed steering wheel. There are even GSi-branded floor mats that are sure to stir the memories of Vauxhall fans from a certain era. The fact this car is based on the standard Corsa means there's also plenty of handy equipment like a heated windscreen, air-conditioning and cruise control.

If these upgrades don't quite do the trick, a £1,900 GSi Plus Pack is available. This swaps the seats for leather Recaro items with an integrated headrest and harness eyelets. You also get upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights with a cornering function.

The IntelliLink infotainment system works well and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but we wish it was mounted higher on the dashboard to make glimpsing at it less distracting.

Practicality & boot space

Apart from a lack of rear doors, the GSI has a decent boot and space for passengers

While there's no practicality penalty for choosing the GSi over other Corsas, it's only available as a three-door, limiting access to its rear seats, particularly when the optional bucket seats are fitted. Rivals like the SEAT Ibiza FR, Ford Fiesta ST-Line and Suzuki Swift Sport are available with five doors, making them much more family-friendly. Once in the back, there's enough room for three passengers at a pinch, but headroom is a bit tight for taller adults.

The boot measures 285 litres, which is respectable for a supermini and similar to the Fiesta, while the Ibiza FR's is bigger, at 330 litres. The rear seats can fold for extra space, but they don't go flat, so there's a lip to lift large items over.

Reliability & safety

While you're unlikely to experience an issue, the Corsa falls behind top rivals here

The Corsa puts in a decidedly average performance when it comes to reliability and safety, but most owners shouldn't experience issues.

Around 11% of Corsa owners reported a first-year fault with their car in our 2018 Driver Power survey, where the Vauxhall supermini came 67th out of the top 75 cars on sale. Electrical issues were the most common, while owners praised its running costs and comfort.

A disappointing four-star Euro NCAP crash-test score was issued despite a wide range of safety kit being fitted, including standard automatic emergency braking. Features including blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and a rear-view camera are also available.

The Corsa scored 79% for adult occupant protection, compared with the 87% obtained by the Ford Fiesta and the 95% of the SEAT Ibiza.

Price, value for money & options

The Vauxhall Corsa GSi looks expensive, but we expect finance deals will make it more affordable

It's hard to get away from the Corsa GSi's price, which easily tops £20,000 when just the GSi Plus Pack is added. That's a proper hot-hatch price for a model that's now been turned into much more of a warmed-over supermini.

The Suzuki Swift Sport feels like a more complete all-rounder, yet costs a few grand less (and more so with discounts), while the Ford Fiesta ST-Line also undercuts the Corsa. If the GSi is the car for you, it'll be worth keeping a lookout for discounts and attractive finance offers, because along with its reasonable running costs, these could make the Corsa GSi considerably more affordable. It may also prove tempting if insurance cover for a more powerful model is too expensive.

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