Paul Horrell09 July 2014

It’s the brand new Vauxhall Corsa!

The best-selling car in Scotland is back with a new look and new engines. Paul Horrell reports

Here's the new Vauxhall Corsa. Squint at its outline and you'll see the ghost of the old one, but all the panels are new, and so is the interior, most of the engines, most of the suspension, and the whole structure forward of the windscreen. So they're being fair in calling it a new car.

Does it carry the proportions and glazing of the old one for any reason other than expediency? Well Vauxhall claims that Corsa buyers, of whom there are lots, actually very much liked the size of the old car as well as its basic look. The supermini class has stopped growing, and the Corsa too retains its 4m length. People want compactness. The old car was well-packaged, so again the new one doesn't mess with the cabin space.

But it has been tizzed up with much richer exterior detailing. All the panels are new, and carry smoother curves and more flamboyant creases. There's extra depth and shaping to the lights, which now bulge out of the bodywork. The three-door version retains the arched glass line, and adds a little blade at the rear extremity of the glass, as used in the Adam.

And you know what, when you see it in real life, it does manage to look lower and wider and better planted to the road.

That, the engineers insist, is how it will feel too. The suspension and steering are in principle the same, but the actual components are new. That's because, by the end, no-one was saying the old Corsa was fun to steer or comfy to ride in.

Thirsty and rough engines were its bane too. So in comes a pair of all-new three-cylinder direct-injection turbo petrols, at 90 and 105bhp. That's a type of engine that works wonders at Ford, Peugeot, Citroen and Renault, but Vauxhall says it's gone one better by including a balance shaft. So the claim is best-in-class refinement. As with the new suspension, we'll be the judge. A double-clutch gearbox shows up for the first time in a Corsa too.

Inside, the dash serves up better quality and again manages to look wider and sleeker than the old one. A neater interface comes courtesy an Adam-style central screen that can mirror your phone. So if your own device – iOS or Android – is smart enough and has the right apps, it'll do navigation, voice recognition, web radio and so on.

It's a neat solution that saves the need for expensive in-car options. Provided, that is, your device is compatible and it has a good data signal. When either of things don't apply, you'll be biting the steering wheel in frustration.

Still, at least the new Corsa can give you a heated wheel to bite on, thanks to a raft of new options also including speed-limit sign recognition, lane keeping, bi-xenons, blind-spot warning, reversing camera, and self-parking. That's all stuff the Corsa needed if it was to get back in contention.

The new impetus should serve Vauxhall well. Even as it came to pensionable age last year, in Britain it was still outselling the entire Renault range combined. You'll be able to buy the new one towards the end of the year, after it's been officially unwrapped at the Paris Motor Show in September.

What we don't officially know about is the one we're most interested in, a new Corsa VXR. But company people nod quietly when you mention the idea, and we know there will be bigger engines to come, including the modern 1.6 direct-injection turbo used to good effect in the Cascada, where it makes 200bhp. Just saying.

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