Vauxhall Corsa

Corsa loses its crown as the biggest supermini to the new Ibiza.

  • Most variants deliver a grown-up driving experience.
  • Corsa looks expensive against these competitors.

The Vauxhall Corsa is a regular near the top of the UK sales charts, so its popularity isn’t in question. When the original was launched in 1993, it shattered preconceptions about supermini build quality and desirability… and the latest generation has moved things on again.

The Corsa is a great all-rounder that can rival the practicality of many compact family cars, let alone superminis. It’s only 250mm shorter than an Astra, and out on the road, there’s no disguising this size. Huge light clusters and an attractive shape give it an upmarket appearance.

Inside, there’s plenty of space, although the design lacks the imagination and flair to set the Vauxhall apart in this company. The dash and steering wheel come with attractive piano black trim, and it’s all much better built than the Mazda and SEAT – with the exception of the poorly fitted glovebox in our test car. Ask two adults which of our quartet they would want to travel in the back of, and the Corsa would almost certainly get the thumbs up. Access through the large, wide-opening back doors is easy, while the angle of the seatback can be adjusted. There’s plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom, and three can sit in the rear with reasonable comfort.

There’s no arguing with the flexibility of the boot, either. While the Corsa’s 285-litre load capacity is smaller than the Ibiza and Clio’s, the square bay is all usable, and a false floor provides a shallow but handy secure stowage area. And even though the squabs are fixed, folding the seats frees up a huge 1,100 litres of luggage space.

With this kind of practicality, surely the Corsa will walk all over its rivals here? Not this time... While the range starts at a tempting £7,795, our 1.4-litre Design model weighs in at £12,635. And it’s not as if we’ve chosen a variant with lots of power. The strained four-cylinder engine delivers only 89bhp and falls short of the task of hauling about the Vauxhall’s 1,120kg weight. The Corsa is 30kg heavier than the larger Ibiza, and it feels every kilo on the road.

What’s more, the £300 optional 17-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension on our model hamper long-distance cruising comfort. The car struggles to iron out subtle undulations and crashes over potholes – problems that haven’t been so evident in other examples we’ve tried.

Yet the quality of the chassis shines through when cornering. The steering offers greater feel than the Clio’s, and the roomy five-door tracks neatly into tight bends.

Fine handling and a superb cabin bring the Corsa close to being the complete supermini package. There are many great models in the range – but with poor performance and no price benefit, this isn’t one of them.

Details

Price: £12,635Model tested: Vauxhall Corsa DesignChart position: 4WHY: Corsa is unbeatable in diesel form. We see if the mid-range petrol car is as capable.

Economy

As it costs more to buy than any other model, the Corsa was at an immediate disadvantage. With the options fitted to our test car, the price rose to £14,385. The 1.4-litre engine has to be worked hard to keep up with the traffic, but returned strong economy. And while servicing prices are a little steep, you won’t have to travel far to find your local franchise. This Corsa is also the most costly company choice, due to its price and the fact that it sits in the 17 per cent tax band.

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