Vauxhall has given some attention to its Corsa supermini to make sure it stays relevant to buyers in this crowded market. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
Vauxhall has given some attention to its fourth-generation Vauxhall Corsa supermini line-up, refining the engine range down to variants of an improved version of its 1.4-litre petrol engine and enhancing the value proposition on offer. If you want a sharp deal on a car in this class, you'll get it on this one, but there are also other reasons why a Corsa might suit.
The Corsa supermini remains Vauxhall's best seller even though the brand has two smaller models - the Viva and the ADAM - in its line-up. This MK4 version has continued that trend, but recently, growing competition in the supermini segment has required a bit of a re-think when it comes to this car. Hence some changes on the engine front, extra equipment across the range and the addition of a new hot hatch flagship model, the GSi.
Of course, there are still newer and glitzier small hatches vying for your attention in this class, but we reckon you'll probably end up getting a better deal on this one. Which wouldn't be that relevant if it wasn't a class-competitive product. Is it still ? Let's find out.
The revised Corsa range is built entirely around versions of its improved Euro 6.2-compliant 1.4-litre petrol engine - so no diesels, 1.0, 1.2 or 1.6-litre units any more. There is though, the choice of either 5 or 6-speed manual gearboxes or an automatic. You can have the 1.4-litre powerplant in normally aspirated form with either 75 or 90PS - or with a turbo with either 100PS or (in the top GSi) with 150PS.
The Corsa has always been a pretty entertaining steer and it's helped in this regard by a low centre of gravity, a stiff front sub-frame and sharp suspension geometry. This features special front knuckles, plus carefully chosen spring rates and dampers to reduce the pitching movement you'd normally get at the front during sharp braking manoeuvres.
Following the current trend, the steering system is electrically-powered and is speed-sensitive with a UK-specific tune to cater for our roads. That's not enough to enable this car to offer the kind of precise feedback you'd get in, say, a Ford Fiesta. But as standard with this set-up, you do get something which most owners will probably find a lot more useful, namely a clever 'City' mode that makes low speed manoeuvring and parking far simpler.
Design and Build
On to design. This fourth generation Corsa was essentially a re-skin of the previous third generation version, but it still looks quite fresh, especially when dressed up in the manner that most variants now tend to be. At the front, 'eagle eye'-shaped headlamps incorporate Vauxhall's signature 'wing'-style LED daytime running lights. Between them is a low, sporty trapezoidal grille with a chrome bar for the Griffin badge that sits above front foglamps embedded in chrome-trimmed air inlets that are intended to make the car look wider, lower and more purposeful. Which is certainly the profile demeanour of the three-door version, always supposed to be the sportier of the two Corsa bodystyles. That's further emphasised by an upper windowline that drops to the rear in an effort to make the car look coupe-like. On the slightly more conservative-looking five-door version, the beltline extends upwards, creating a more dynamic connection with the roof spoiler.
Drop inside and you'll find an instrument panel themed around horizontal lines and featuring in most models a 7-inch Intellilink infotainment colour touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dash and is smartly mounted in a high-gloss surround. In the back, this Corsa is much as it always was, remaining one of the more spacious superminis you can buy with plenty of room for two fully-grown adults - or three children - in this five-door model. Inevitably the three door bodyshape is a little more claustrophobic. Out back, there's a 285-litre boot.
Market and Model
Prices start at just over £11,000, but that only gets you the entry-level 'Active' variant which comes only in three-door form and only with the 75PS version of the normally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol engine. Across most of the rest of the line-up, the five-door body style is an option for £600 more. Most buyers will want to start their perusal of the range from at least 'Design' level, which costs from around £13,000 and comes with the same base engine. Stretching up to 'Energy' trim and a £14,500 budget means you get the option of the 1,.4-litre engine in its 90PS guise, in which form you can have an auto gearbox too. The 75 and 90PS units are also the ones on offer at the mid-range 'Sport' level.
If you want the turbo version of the 1.4-litre engine, it's available as one of the options on offer to 'SRi Nav' buyers, though you'll need over £17,000 for that engine with this spec. Beyond that, there's a more visually arresting 'SRi VX-Line Nav Black' variant (with only 75 and 90PS power), before the range culminates with the top 1.4i Turbo 150PS GSi warm hatch model. Across the range, standard safety stuff includes twin front, side and curtain airbags plus ESP stability control.
Cost of Ownership
Despite the fact that all the 1.4-litre petrol engines on offer are of the improved Euro 6.2-compliant variety, running costs aren't exemplary by class standards. The base 75 and 90PS normally aspirated units record the same figures - 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and 130g/km of CO2. The 1.4i Turbo 100PS unit actually does a little better - 50.4mpg and 128g/km. The 150Ps version of this unit in the top GSi variant manages 49.6mpg and 139g/km.
You'll also need to know that Vauxhall includes a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty as standard, a package that can be extended up to five years and 100,000 miles at extra cost. A year's free breakdown cover is also provided, along with a six-year anti-corrosion guarantee. Service intervals are at 20,000 miles or every 12 months, depending on which comes round sooner and you can opt for a service plan that lets you pay monthly to spread the cost of regular work to your car. As part of this, Vauxhall offers discounts on wear and tear items, such as brake pads and windscreen wipers.
And in summary? Well what we're looking at here is a Corsa that can. It can be fun to drive. It can deliver a big car feel. And it can deliver the kind of trendy media connectivity that younger buyers are looking for. It's a small Vauxhall for which no apologies need to be made.
It's not perfect of course. It doesn't lead its class in terms of either space, efficiency or driving dynamics. And more work is still needed under the bonnet to deliver a more cutting edge engine range. The key though, is that this Vauxhall is now there, or thereabouts, in the three key areas just mentioned. Add to that the wide model line-up and the likely deals on offer and you've a supermini that more than ever, needs to remain high on any family's shopping list.