Road Tests

First Drive: Vauxhall Corsa – can it live up to expectations?

Time 5:07 pm, January 21, 2020

What is it?

The Vauxhall Corsa is a household name and has, throughout the years, come to represent frugal and value-for-money motoring at its most effective.

Now there’s a fifth-generation Corsa, and it’s the first all-new Vauxhall since PSA Group took ownership of the company. It means the hatchback is underpinned by a new platform, with fresh engines and technology.

What’s new?

As we’ve already mentioned, the new Corsa uses a new platform as its basis and it’s one shared with the Peugeot 208. It means that the Corsa offers more space than before but crucially, the driver sits lower than they would’ve in the older model – so that should equate to a more involved, sporty feel from behind the wheel.

There are engines fresh from the PSA playbook too and a new multimedia system has been incorporated into the car’s interior to keep the Corsa in line with rivals.

What’s under the bonnet?

Our test car featured a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet, sending 99bhp and 205Nm of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

It’s likely to be one of the most popular powertrain options, owing both to its relatively sprightly 0-60mph time of 9.3 seconds and, more importantly, its economy figures of up to 52.3mpg combined and 
96g/km CO2 output.

A single diesel unit sits in the range along with a non-turbocharged petrol unit. And of course, this 
is a platform created with electrification in mind, which is why an all-electric Corsa-e is set to join the ranks soon.

What’s it like to drive?

One of Vauxhall’s engineers told us that the previous-generation Corsa drove a little ‘like a minivan’, and we’d have to agree.

It’s why the firm has worked hard to improve the dynamism of this latest generation car and it’s pleasing to report that this focus has paid dividends. The Corsa steers, corners and rides far more favourably than the car it replaces, with good levels of grip and decent body control.

How does it look?

The design of the Corsa represents a big step forward. It’s not too fussy, but not lacking in interest.

The front end gets the firm’s new family ‘face’ – with the Vauxhall logo made prominent on the nose – while the ‘floating’ contrast roof of our test car prevents it from looking too top-heavy.

Around the back is where the styling is particularly strong with cuts to the bodywork giving the impression that the car is much wider than it actually is.

What’s it like inside?

It’s easy to tell that Vauxhall has pushed hard to increase the quality of the Corsa’s interior, with soft-touch materials used for areas such as the dash and door cards. There’s plenty of visibility up front, too, with the wide windscreen and relatively slim pillars meaning your forward view isn’t too restricted. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a good touch and though the heating and ventilation controls feel a little outdated, they’re simple to use.

There’s a decent amount of boot space too. With the rear seats in place, there are 309 litres of room to play with, rising to 1,118 litres with the back seats folded down. For context, that’s larger than the Ford Fiesta’s 292 and 1,093 respective litres. Oh, and for this Corsa, only a five-door version will be available.

What’s the spec like?

The new Corsa gets plenty of equipment as standard, with our £20,350 Elite Nav Premium car (£21,000 after options) getting a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as electronic climate control, automatic headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels all included in the vehicle’s base price.

That said, even base-spec SE cars still get CarPlay and Android Auto (albeit displayed on a smaller seven-inch screen) and 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, so opting for an entry-level trim level doesn’t mean you’ll be doing without some key creature comforts, either.

What do the press think?

Parkers described the car as ‘an excellent supermini’ while What Car? said the new Corsa was ‘a competent small car, but not outstanding in any area’.

What do we think?

PSA’s ownership of Vauxhall has meant that crucial areas of the new Corsa – such as the powertrain – feel more refined than they ever did before. More than anything, though, the Corsa drives far more convincingly so this latest version is likely to go down very well.

Jack Evans's avatar

Jack Evans is the head of editorial for Car Dealer parent company Blackball Media. An experienced motoring journalist, he covers the latest car launches, motoring news and produces a variety of features for this website.

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