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Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI Design 5dr

It’s our favourite supermini – but can it beat new kid on the block?

No supermini group test would be complete without the Vauxhall Corsa. Britain’s best-selling small car serves up a compelling mix of space, practicality and fine build quality, while there’s a comprehensive line-up.

Yet the Vauxhall will have its work cut out. In an early encounter with a left-hand-drive Fiesta (Issue 1,027), the Luton baby was pipped to victory, while the Clio has also provided stiff competition over the years.

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But on both occasions we drove the sporty SXi – similar to the car in our pictures – which was let down by a harsh ride. Choose the softer sprung, top-of-the-range Design spec, which we tested, and the Vauxhall makes far more sense. At £13,685, it’s a tenner cheaper than the Ford, and only £35 more than the less powerful Renault. There’s no doubt the Vauxhall has plenty of showroom appeal –it looks like a car from the class above – while the tight shut lines hint at first-rate fit and finish. But it lacks the Ford’s flowing lines or Renault’s flair.

Matters improve significantly once you climb aboard. High-grade materials, solid build and a logical layout give the model a classy, upmarket feel. It’s also slightly larger than the other two, with passengers in the rear benefiting from a bit more headroom. Lift the tailgate, and the Corsa extends its advantage. A 285-litre capacity is on a par with rivals, but the boot also has a secure stowage area under the false floor. Fold the rear bench, and the space grows to 1,100 litres, making it the largest of our trio. Out on the road, the punchy 88bhp unit matches the much bigger powerplant in the Fiesta for pace – although it’s nowhere near as refined.

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At the test track the Corsa sprinted from 0-60mph in 12.7 seconds – exactly the same time as the Ford. A standard six-speed gearbox also means the Vauxhall has the edge as a relaxed motorway cruiser. The Corsa rides well, while direct steering and good body control make it an accomplished performer. But it can’t match the agility of the Fiesta, or the Clio’s composure over bumpy surfaces. So the Vauxhall faces a tough task holding on to its place at the top of the supermini class.

Details

Price: £13,685
Model tested: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI Design 5dr
WHY: Our current supermini champ is practical and great value – and a real class act.

Economy

A CO2 output of 127g/km means the Corsa slips into group C for road tax, so you pay £120 for a year’s disc. Worse still, company tax is rated at 18 per cent. As these three cars are so closely matched on price, standard-rate fleet users shell out £493 a year – it’s £356 for the Ford and £355 for the Renault. Strong economy minimises costs, as do long service intervals.

Environment

With CO2 emissions of 127g/km, the Corsa falls into road tax band C, which means a year’s tax is £85.

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