Vauxhall Corsa

Is the supermini top seller just as good a buy used?

Small on the outside and big on the inside – you will be spoiled for choice if you’re considering a used supermini. Every mainstream manufacturer has one in its line-up, and the Vauxhall Corsa is a very big seller.

The fourth-generation car went on sale last year, so the model it replaces now looks fantastic value. And with a wide engine range, three and five-door bodystyles and an array of trim levels, there’s a variant for every taste. The question is, does the Corsa suit you? And which should you buy?

History The third-generation Corsa arrived in dealers in October 2000, with a selection of 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 and 1.8-litre petrol engines. There was also a 1.7-litre Di diesel, while an intercooled version of the oil-burner wore the DTi badge.

Neither diesel engine was particularly strong, though, and they were replaced by a far better 1.7-litre CDTI common-rail unit. A 1.3 CDTI powerplant joined the line-up as well.

An overhaul in August 2003 saw Club spec replaced by Life, while Elegance became Design. This facelift also introduced revised bumpers and interior trim, although you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the difference.

What to look for Low-mileage Corsas are common, but not all have a clean history. As they are often used as city cars, expect to find parking scrapes, plus premature clutch and brake wear.

Don’t pay less for a three-door if you need to strap kids in the back; the extra you’ll shell out for a five-door is well worth it. And if you’re tempted by an early high-mileage 1.7 Di or DTi diesel, remember that these engines need a fresh cambelt at 100,000 miles – later oil-burners are fitted with chains which don’t need changing. Used Corsas bought from main dealers benefit from the backing of the Network Q approved scheme.

Alternatives There are lots of second-hand options for supermini buyers, with something to suit every budget. We recommend having a look at the Skoda Fabia, because of its low running costs, or the Toyota Yaris, thanks to its combination of economy and reliability.

Alternatively, the Fiat Panda and Hyundai Getz are well worth considering, as both represent excellent value for money second-hand.

However, we still think the Honda Jazz is the best supermini choice on the used market, because of its winning blend of usability, practicality and reliability. Unfortunately, these attributes mean the Jazz is likely to be the most expensive option.

How much? There are plenty of Corsas about, with bargains to be had if you haggle hard. An X-reg 1.0-litre model with 75,000 miles on the clock is worth around £1,700 in a private sale, and an identical 1.2-litre will set you back an extra £300.

Post-August 2003 facelifted cars start at less than £3,000 privately, with the 1.3 CDTi diesel from £4,000 at a dealer and the 1.7 CDTi from around £6,500. If you want five doors you’ll have to pay £150-£250 more. Opt for the Easytronic automated manual and the premium is the same – although don’t confuse this with the normal auto, which is £500 extra.

Running costs All third-generation Corsas need servicing every 20,000 miles or 12 months, regardless of the type of engine or its capacity. Taking the first four check-ups in order, typical costs are £120, £200, £120 and £240 respectively. This includes fresh brake fluid where necessary.

The air-con should be recharged every two years at £90. However, 1.4 and 1.8-litre petrol engines, plus the 1.7 Di, all have cambelts. Petrol units need a new belt every four years or 40,000 miles, while on the diesel it has to be renewed after 100,000 miles or 10 years, and costs around £230.


Verdict The third-generation Corsa was a big step forward over the car it replaced, and prices are very tempting. While it doesn’t lead the class, it’s good to drive, cheap to run and, as long as you can find one for a reasonable amount, should prove to be a great buy

Extra Info

Buyer beware!

  • Corsas are popular learner driver cars. Check the alloys for scrapes and the clutch for signs of heavy wear.
  • Young drivers love Corsa’s low running costs. Ensure the last owner hasn’t tried to cut bills even further by neglecting it.
  • Interior trim can be fragile, so make sure nothing has come adrift – key areas are catches and parcel shelf

Recall history and Driver Power results APRIL 2001: Child seat safety cradle with a transponder may not work properly with the smart passenger airbag deactivation function.

DECEMBER 2001: Driver and front passenger seat latch springs can weaken and fail to lock the seat.

MARCH 2004: Steering wheel retaining screw may have been tightened incorrectly.

MARCH 2006: Water ingress into the ABS wiring can cause a short circuit and potential fire.

2007 DRIVER POWER: Corsa lived up to expectations for 90 per cent of owners – but low scores show you weren’t expecting much!

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