Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI Club A/C

Sharp lines, solid build quality and a low price make the Corsa tough to beat

There are two bodystyles in the Corsa line-up, and Vauxhall pitches them at different markets. While the sporty three-door is aimed at younger buyers, the five-door is for families. But even the practical latter version still looks sleeker than the Fabia.

It’s longer, wider and 10mm lower than its Czech rival, although interior space is similar. Rear legroom is a tad tighter than in the Skoda and the boot is smaller, but headroom throughout is fine. A small glovebox and shallow door pockets mean there isn’t much stowage, but overall the cabin is no less practical than either rival.

However, when it comes to quality, the Vauxhall stands out. The fit and finish of the Corsa’s interior looks and feels more expensive than the Clio and Fabia, and with reach-and-rake wheel movement, plus seat-height adjustment, the driving position is comfortable. Translucent switches, large dials and chrome trim brighten the cabin, and while it’s not particularly ground-breaking, the dash looks smarter than the Skoda’s. In fact, blind spots caused by the intrusive A-pillars are the only major criticism of the cockpit. Under the bonnet, the 1.3-litre four-cylinder motor is more refined than the Skoda’s three-cylinder unit – two decibels quieter externally at idle – but performance is best described as leisurely. It has less power than the Fabia’s TDI powerplant, and combined with a 1,167kg kerbweight, the Corsa feels somewhat lethargic under acceleration.

The gearbox also has the poorest action here, but at least the Corsa has a smoother throttle response than the Skoda, and was no more than a second slower in our third and fourth-gear tests. It has better flexibility between 50-70mph, too.

But while straight-line performance isn’t anything to get excited about, the Vauxhall is more enjoyable in corners. It lacks the Clio’s light-footed feel, but it rolls less than the Fabia. This, combined with positive steering, makes the Corsa easy and reassuring to drive. The suspension is stiffer than the Skoda’s and the ride is firmer, but over most surfaces the damping absorbs imperfections well. Overall, the Corsa is a pleasant and refined supermini that crucially doesn’t feel like a bargain car.

Our Club-spec model sits in the middle of the Corsa line-up, and with a £11,425 price tag, it’s only £250 more than the Fabia. It lacks the Czech car’s standard alloy wheels, but these can be added for £450, and as with the Renault, curtain airbags are standard – a more important addition, we think. The Corsa also has the best residuals of this trio, but will that give it the final nod?

Details

Price: £11,425Model tested: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI Club a/cChart position: 1WHY: More style and improved quality have shot the Corsa back to the top of the supermini tree.

Economy

The Corsa took second place in the economy stakes, with a figure of 42.3mpg – which is way off Vauxhall’s 61.4mpg claimed combined figure. However, it did return the lowest fuel consumption in town.

Residuals

Running the Corsa will be a slightly more expensive experience than owning a Fabia. The Vauxhall is forecast to cost 31.1 pence per mile. This is due in large part to its lower 41.8 per cent three-year residual value.

Servicing

With the longest gaps between services, the Corsa will travel twice the distance of the Fabia before needing a check-up. £465 over three years and a large dealer network definitely earn the Vauxhall top spot in this area.

Tax

All three cars in this test sit in the same CO2 bracket, and the Corsa will cost lower-band owners only £10 a year more than the Fabia. The four-cylinder Vauxhall emits 4g/km more CO2 than the three-cylinder Skoda.

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