Vauxhall Corsa 2015 review
Mild styling tweaks hide Vauxhall Corsa 2015's big step forward in performance, refinement and efficiency – for a lower price
The revised Vauxhall Corsa really does shine once you’re behind the wheel. The new 1.0-litre engine gives the car a fresh lease of life, and there are big improvements in terms of comfort, refinement and quality. While the Polo remains the more sensible choice, and the Fiesta the driver’s pick, the Corsa’s aggressive pricing means Vauxhall is on to a winner.
Although its healthy sales figures may have suggested otherwise, the cracks in the Vauxhall Corsa were beginning to show. Its design was tired, driving dynamics were flawed and interior quality was flimsy. But Vauxhall is confident its best-selling model in the UK now has what it takes to step back into the limelight.
So what’s new? Well, there’s a range of brand new engines, updated suspension and interior, along with a big step up in quality. Underneath, it carries over its predecessor’s basic architecture and overall dimensions.
Design-wise, Vauxhall has reworked the front end, grafting on an Adam-inspired look to the nose, with rakish headlamps, a wide-mouth grille and chrome detailing. From the A-pillar backwards there are sharper lines, along the flanks, but the overall shape and proportions remain largely the same. In fact, the A, B and C-pillars haven’t changed shape or position at all.
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Being able to carry five passengers comfortably, safely and efficiently is an area where the Corsa has improved dramatically. The big story is the new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, which finally gives Vauxhall a direct rival to the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta. It’s available in two states of tune – 89bhp and the more punchy 113bhp version we drove.
To get anywhere near the Fiesta EcoBoost – our current pick of the Ford supermini range – the new Corsa needs to deliver excellent fuel economy figures, strong performance and high levels of refinement, and Vauxhall’s new three-cylinder doesn’t disappoint.
The first thing you notice about the new engine is how muted and refined it is. The revs build with a hearty thrum and even at the higher end of the range, noise remains well isolated from the cabin. In-gear pace is strong – even accelerating from 30mph in fifth gear produces a notable shove in the back. Better still, gone is the baggy and notchy feel of the old gearbox, replaced by a much crisper, short-throw six-speed manual, which is standard on the 1.0-litre version.
Despite being the smallest-capacity engine available in the Corsa, it’s also the quickest. The 113bhp car takes 10.4 seconds to complete the 0-62mph dash and Vauxhall claims 57.6mpg fuel economy. That’s still a little short of the 123bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost Fiesta on paper. The Fiesta is almost one second quicker from 0-62mph, taking 9.4 seconds, and promises an 8.1mpg economy advantage, at 65.7mpg.
Plus, the Ford scores another point with tax-free motoring, thanks to its 99g/km CO2 emissions; the 1.0-litre Vauxhall emits 115g/km.
If you’re ruled by running costs, or cover high mileages, the 1.3-litre diesel Corsa offers over 88mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 85g/km, but you’ll have to pay £420 more to get the CDTi in the same Excite trim level as our test car, and you will sacrifice some refinement, so we’d stick with petrol power.
Other enhancements to the latest Vauxhall include a new suspension set-up. Whereas the ride was rather choppy and unforgiving before, the re-engineered suspension makes the Corsa far more compliant and supple on the move. It can’t quite match the grown-up nature of the Volkswagen Polo, but it really isn’t far off.
A slightly lower centre of gravity and stiffer subframe have resulted in better body control, while the new speed-sensitive steering makes the Corsa feel more nimble and responsive than ever before. Yet it has been set up for ease of use, so it does feel a little vague and can’t compete with the Fiesta’s far more direct set-up and sharper chassis.
But the newcomer counters with a well executed and well appointed cabin. As with the exterior, the revised interior is largely based on the Adam’s and the much-needed lift in quality and premium feel is immediately evident. On Excite models and above, the dashboard now features a new seven-inch colour touchscreen, which can support functions such as controlling the sat-nav that’s on your smartphone.
Our Excite is expected to be the pick of the bunch, and buyers won’t find themselves short of kit, with air-con, 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth, heated seats, a leather steering wheel and auto lights and wipers all standard.
As the basic shape of the Corsa hasn’t changed, you can still carry five adults without any complaints about a lack of space. Head and knee room is generous, so there’s more space for rear occupants than you’ll find in the Fiesta, while boot capacity, at 285 litres, is only marginally smaller than the Ford’s, and identical in size to its predecessor.
But what’s likely to catch buyers’ attention more than anything is the price. Despite the raft of updates, Vauxhall has slashed the cost. That means a £8,995 entry point, which looks brilliant value. Better still, with the 1.0-litre engine and Excite trim, you’ll pocket £1,350 over a similarly specced EcoBoost Fiesta.