Vauxhall Corsa GS 1.2 Turbo 2023 review: popular supermini gets sharp new look

The big-selling Vauxhall Corsa has been updated to keep in fresh in the tough supermini sector

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

The popularity of the Vauxhall Corsa seems set to continue with this facelift. A sharper look, slicker tech and a simplified range structure, along with punchy finance rates, should keep buyers flocking to Vauxhall dealerships. While our 3.5-star mark isn’t outstanding, we’ll need to revisit it once we’ve sampled the hybrid powertrains. On paper, they have the potential to improve the driving experience.

The Vauxhall Corsa isn’t just the British brand’s best seller, it’s also the UK’s most popular new supermini in 2023. Some 33,641 have found homes as of the end of October, behind only the Ford Puma and the Nissan Qashqai in the overall sales charts.

That’s all the more impressive when you consider that the current model was developed in just 18 months. It was the first Vauxhall released after the brand’s takeover by Groupe PSA – now part of Stellantis – and Vauxhall’s engineers were forced to start from scratch with the CMP platform.

As a result, a General Motors-derived Corsa replacement, already some way along the development path itself, was canned.

The radical decision was a shrewd move, then, but hurried development left potential for improvement come the mid-life facelift. That’s the car that we have here, with the latest model benefiting from a nip and tuck to keep it in contention with rivals like the Hyundai i20, Renault Clio and Skoda Fabia. And for the first time, we’ve got our hands on the updated Corsa on home soil.

The biggest change for the latest version comes at the front, with the signature ‘Vizor’ design – a gloss black grille panel that blends into the headlights at either side – bringing the Corsa in line with the rest of the Vauxhall passenger car family. It’s certainly more daring and distinctive than the outgoing car which, though smart enough, didn’t exactly stand out from the supermini crowd. The new grille sits above a bumper that’s smoother and neater than before.

Other exterior changes are limited to details, though. The alloy wheel designs are new, the roof gets a neat shark fin antenna in place of the previous wire item, and the boot lid now displays the ‘CORSA’ branding across a wider section of the panel. A new colour, called Graphic Grey, has also been added to the car’s exterior palette.

Seat upholstery aside, the interior hasn’t changed radically, but it does benefit from a boost in tech. An all-new infotainment system brings much-improved graphics and speed, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a digital instrument panel now is standard on every model.

As before, there will be a choice of internal combustion and fully electric Corsas. A new EV variant gets a bump in battery capacity, efficiency, performance and range, and will sit above the existing electric powertrain in the line-up.

There are no changes mechanically for ICE models – at least not yet. In 2024, the petrol engine line-up will be boosted by the introduction of 48-volt hybrid tech. A 28bhp electric motor will take the strain off the 1.2-litre turbocharged units, which will offer up either 99bhp or 134bhp.

As it stands, the Corsa drives much the same as before. In other words, it doesn’t do anything brilliantly, but nor is it poor in any particular area. The suspension set-up is towards the firmer end of the class – the occasional high-frequency bounce can be felt at motorway speeds – but shocks are well isolated from the cabin. The car is reasonably agile through the turns, but the steering has a vagueness that curbs the fun.

While the range is topped with a 128bhp petrol model for now, this 99bhp unit is our choice. Responsive and torquey – the 205Nm peak arrives at just 1,750rpm – it delivers decent punch without needing a downshift through the rubbery manual gearbox.

Prices for the updated Corsa range start from £19,625. That’s for a 74bhp petrol-engined model in Design trim, which is the entry point for a considerably simplified three-tier line-up. Among the standard equipment are 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, LED headlights and driver-assistance tech including lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition.

The mid-range GS model comes with all the kit you’ll really need, adding 17-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, built-in navigation and a reversing camera. Meanwhile, the top-spec Ultimate trim adds adaptive LED lights, heated steering wheel and front seats (with a massage function on the driver’s side), adaptive cruise control and Alcantara upholstery.

Vauxhall is being aggressive with its finance deals, too. Go for a two-year PCP agreement, and zero per cent APR is available, which translates into monthly payments as low as £145 – although you’ll need to stump up almost £6,500 as a deposit to benefit from this.

Model:Vauxhall Corsa GS 1.2 Turbo
Price:£22,905
Powertrain:1.2-litre 3cyl petrol turbo
Power/torque:99bhp/205Nm
Transmission:Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:9.9 seconds
Top speed:120mph
Economy/CO2:54.3mpg/117g/km
Size (L/W/H):4,060/1,765/1,433mm
On sale:Now
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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