Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI

The Corsa needs no introduction.

The Corsa needs no introduction. It has been an Auto Express favourite ever since it arrived in 2006, and only last week (Issue 1,026) we crowned it the top supermini in our New Car Honours for the second year running. The Fiesta poses its sternest test yet – so will the Vauxhall’s reign end here?

Style is subjective, but only a diehard Corsa fan could deny the Ford victory on the catwalk. The neat Vauxhall is attractive and well proportioned, yet its round profile does not share the sleek new Fiesta’s sporty appeal.

However, the Ford is marginally smaller than its rival in every dimension, which has obvious implications for storage. Here, the Vauxhall wins the day because, at 285 litres, its boot is four litres bigger than its rival’s. A small margin of victory – but fold the rear seats and its superiority increases, because its 1,100-litre capacity comfortably beats the Fiesta’s 965-litre maximum.

The cabin is just what we’d expect from the classy Corsa. Its logical layout and smart materials give a grown-up feel, and there’s plenty of space front and back. Step straight out of the Fiesta and there is no doubt about which is the newer design, but the Vauxhall interior features higher quality materials and feels more solidly put together.

On the road is where these cars must excel, however, and the Corsa’s attributes are well documented. While the Fiesta majors on fluid handling and fun, the Vauxhall feels much more sensible from behind the wheel. SXi trim gives stiffer springs and a 20mm lower ride height. These deliver bags of grip but there’s still room for improvement because the steering lacks the feel and precision of its rival. Ride comfort is compromised, too, as the lower set-up seems harsh around town.

The 1.3-litre CDTI engine is refined, punchy and economical. But even here the Fiesta outscores its rival, as its 1.6-litre TDCi is just as powerful as the Vauxhall motor and returns a superior claimed fuel consumption figure – our test mileage was too limited to give comprehensive data.

Kit-wise there’s little to separate the two models, and SXi trim includes sports seats and a leather steering wheel. However, the Fiesta also boasts more big-car features, such as cruise control. There’s nothing between the pair when it comes to entertainment, though, as each has an MP3-compatible stereo and auxiliary input socket. So has our reigning supermini champ done enough to see off its rival from Ford?

Details

  • Price: £13,470
  • Model tested: Vaux. Corsa 1.3 CDTI
  • Chart position: 2
  • WHY: The Fiesta’s biggest rival is from Vauxhall, and it’s our reigning supermini champ.

Economy

The biggest cost in any new car purchase comes when you sell it! Our experts at Glass’s Guide have already been busy forecasting the Fiesta’s residuals – and it’s bad news for the Corsa. The Vauxhall will retain 41 per cent of its value after three years and 36,000 miles, but the Ford is expected to be worth even more, thanks to a solid 45 per cent prediction. Longer servicing intervals will keep costs down for high-mileage Vauxhall drivers, but if you cover only average distances, the Corsa will be more expensive. In our short time with the cars, they returned similar fuel economy, but the Corsa’s official figures are inferior.

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