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Long-term tests

Vauxhall Corsa GS long-term test: big car feel at a small car price

First report: thumbs up for economy as humble hatch joins our fleet

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

It's still early days in my time with the Corsa, and tougher challenges will come, but it has done a good job so far of mostly catering to my every whim. It’s proving to be cheap to run, good to drive and comfortable over long distances, when it displays more of a big-car feel than I had been expecting. 

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  • Mileage: 1,627
  • Economy: 50.3mpg

If you’re like me, then the first thing you do with a new car is to see how efficient it is. It’s a good sign of the engine’s health and how much the car will cost to run. With just 278 miles on the odometer, there hadn’t been much running-in for my newly arrived Vauxhall Corsa, so managing more than Vauxhall’s impressive claim of 53.3mpg seemed like a tall order. 

But if you’ll forgive me cutting to the chase, the car immediately served up nearly 63mpg over 45 miles of back road and dual-carriageway – with a passenger. Even after many more miles of my inefficient driving style, its economy only dropped to 50.3mpg – still not far off Vauxhall’s claim. 

The importance of the Corsa’s average economy is even more obvious when you look at its rivals. The Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris managed 56.2 and 58.5mpg, respectively, in a recent Auto Express twin test and the latest MG3 returned 55.4mpg. 

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All of those were hybrid cars, however, which shows just how slowly the turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine sips fuel. Having a manual gearbox certainly helps – 1.9mpg more efficient than the automatic, says Vauxhall – while thanks to a healthy 99bhp and 205Nm of torque (compared with 74bhp in the less efficient, less powerful, non-turbo model) means you’re not leaning heavily on the throttle to get anywhere. 

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In the month that I’ve had the Corsa, I’ve racked up over 1,600 miles – a lot of these coming in two-and-a-half hour schleps to Heathrow – something I was previously concerned about. Like most of the UK’s population, I have prior experience of Corsas – mine coming from the car I learned to drive in. I certainly wouldn’t have looked forward to regular long journeys in that fourth-generation car, but the current model can eat up motorway miles with ease. 

That’s thanks, in part, to its more refined cabin, with less road and wind noise. But what I appreciate is the wider (by 22mm) track and longer (by 27mm) wheelbase. They give this Corsa much more stable road-holding, resulting in fewer corrections with the steering wheel. Despite weighing almost the same as the old model, it has the feel of a far larger car – not surprising, given that its body is larger than the old version’s.

A strange quirk of the Corsa that possibly only afflicts people such as myself with disproportionately long legs, is that it took several hours to get settled behind the wheel. The pedals are close to the seat, so I’ve had to adopt a rather laid-back driving position. There’s also no central armrest or raised centre console to lean on – which would go a long way to improving the car’s overall comfort for me. At motorway speeds I’ve also noticed there’s a whistle coming from the top of the windscreen. It all looks perfectly neat on the outside, but I’ll try to locate the source of this noise. 

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Otherwise, the Corsa is performing as expected. It’s superbly easy around town, thanks to light steering, great visibility, and enough suspension travel and tyre sidewall to soak up the decaying local roads. 

Our car has no options fitted, but all that’s offered is a ‘Winter Pack’, which includes heated seats and steering wheel, and I really hope I won’t miss these. The mid-range GS trim comes with a bunch of handy features which we’ll go into depth in future reports, but one strange decision Vauxhall has made is to fit it with a grainy narrow-view rear camera, while the all-electric Corsa GS is fitted with a panoramic display. 

With mostly gentle motorway miles, the Corsa has had it easy so far. However, the summer holidays are coming up, so it’ll have to cater for more random trips and luggage, not to mention my dogs, who are ready and waiting to give their verdicts too. 

Model:Vauxhall Corsa GS
On fleet since:April 2024
Price new:£22,915
Engine:1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, 99bhp
CO2/tax:117g/km/£190
Options:None
Insurance*:Group: 19 Quote: £1,187
Mileage:1,627
Economy:50.3mpg
Any problemsNone so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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