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Car group tests

Vauxhall Corsa vs VW Polo & Ford Fiesta

Can Vauxhall’s all-new Corsa storm to the top of the highly competitive and lucrative supermini class?

Superminis are as much loved by car makers as they are by consumers. While these models may not have the glitz and glamour of SUVs or executives, they account for over a third of new car sales, making them the major breadwinners for manufacturers across the globe. 

As a result, the launch of a new contender from one of the class front-runners is always a big deal.

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One of the UK’s biggest sellers is the Vauxhall Corsa. Even after eight years on sale, it’s a permanent fixture in the top five of the UK sales charts, but that hasn’t stopped Vauxhall from bringing it bang up to date.

Its latest revamp includes refreshed looks, new engines and an upgraded driving experience, but will it make the car a contender for class honours?

To find out, we’ve lined up a showdown for the Corsa with its arch-rivals: the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The Fiesta has always been the benchmark for handling, while the Polo sets new standards for comfort and refinement – and if the Corsa can match its rivals, we could have a new class champion on our hands.

Vauxhall Corsa review

Volkswagen Polo review

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Ford Fiesta review

Click the links above for full individual reviews, and scroll down to see the verdict of this supermini showdown...



The Corsa’s styling update is definitely a change for the better. At the front, it takes cues from the Adam, featuring a distinctive grille with upturned edges and sharp headlamp units with bright LED daytime running lights.

The overall appearance makes the Fiesta’s snout look droopy in comparison, although both the Ford and Vauxhall have far more presence than the upright and restrained VW.


While the Polo and Fiesta have optional sat-nav, Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system can be synchronised with a smartphone app called BrinGo. The system costs £50 and is a cheap nav solution, although judging by user reviews on the iTunes store, it’s not very reliable.


Vauxhall has slashed nearly £3,000 off Corsa SRi models, with smaller reductions found across the entire range. This brings its pricing into line with rival makers, although dealers will focus more on finance options and monthly payments to try to persuade buyers into higher-spec models.


1st place: Volkswagen Polo

The battle in the supermini class is tougher than ever, but in this fight, we have to give the win to the Polo by a narrow margin. It’s comfortable and refined, handles well and is quick yet efficient. These are all attributes that fit the Corsa, too, although the Polo is our supermini of choice on account of its lower list price, marginally higher quality and more user-friendly infotainment system.

2nd place: Vauxhall Corsa

The Corsa should be on any supermini buyer’s shortlist. It takes the cabin space and build quality of its predecessor and adds more engaging driving dynamics and greater efficiency to the mix. The new 1.0-litre turbo engine is a gem, thanks to its superb refinement and great real-world running costs, while Vauxhall’s new pricing strategy means the car is back in the supermini hunt.

3rd place: Ford Fiesta

There’s nothing wrong with the Fiesta; it’s just that the newer Corsa and Polo feel more upmarket and have a greater breadth of ability on the road. It’s still the benchmark for sharp handling in the supermini class, but the quality of the interior and dash layout is a letdown. It’s also smaller than either of its rivals, while the engine isn’t as efficient as official figures suggest.

Vauxhall Corsa vs rivals: key specs

 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI (90) SEVauxhall Corsa 1.0T (115) ExciteFord Fiesta 1.0T EcoBoost (100) Zetec 
On the road price/total as tested£14,210/£14,210£14,695/£15,240£14,545/£14,545
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£7,034/49.5%TBC£5,949/40.9%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£396/£793£468/£937£348/£696
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)x£1,712/£2,853£1,764/£2,939£1,868/£3,113
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£273/B/£2012/£243/C/£3011/£286/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs)TBC£695 (3yrs)
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc3cyl in-line/988cc3cyl in-line/999cc
Peak power/revs 89/4,800 bhp/rpm113/5,000 bhp/rpm99/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 160/1,400 Nm/rpm170/1,800 Nm/rpm170/1,400 Nm/rpm
Transmission 5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/space saver45 litres/£11042 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity280/952 litres285/1,120 litres290/974 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,107/421/1,000kg1,163/516/1,200kg1,101/454/900kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/**Cd10.6 metres/0.33Cd10.1 metres/0.33Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable miles/22320k miles (1yr)/40412.5k miles (1yr)/781
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos19th/31st29th/20th19th/27th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars90/86/41/5N/A91/86/65/5
0-60/30-70mph9.9/10.2 secs10.4/9.6 secs10.1/11.1 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.0/7.2 secs4.8/6.2 secs6.3/8.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.9 secs/N/A9.1/12.4 secs13.2 secs/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 114mph/2,600rpm121mph/2,700rpm112mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 51.4/36.9/9.4m53.4/38.9/9.6m (wet)48.0/35.2/9.7m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph62/40/58/64dB62/42/61/67dB66/45/64/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range40.7/9.0/403 miles39.5/8.7/391 miles37.3/8.3/345 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.1/70.6/60.1mpg47.1/65.7/57.6mpg53.3/76.4/65.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.4/15.5/13.2mpl10.4/14.5/12.7mpl11.7/16.8/14.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket160/107g/km/14%165/115g/km/16%175/99g/km/12%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/no/£240Six/yes/£450/£1,300Seven/yes/£425*/no
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control£1,375/yes/£500No/yes/no£1,250/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats£380/no/£360£395/no/yesNo/no/£175
Met paint/panoramic roof/keyless go£535/£845/no£545/£750/no£495/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yes£50 (App)/yes/yes/yes£500/yes/£100/yes
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