What is it?
Once a serious contender, the Corsa has lost a lot of ground to its principal rivals, the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio. Bold styling that used to turn heads has begun to look a bit dated, and although there is still plenty to commend the Corsa, it’s definitely starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. We had a soft spot for the pointless Asbo-magnet VXR version, but then we drove the RenaultSport Clio and forgot all about it and every other Corsa.
The Corsa is actually OK to drive. While the chassis isn’t up to the same high standards of the Ford Fiesta, it’s reasonably responsive for undemanding drivers and the steering gives more confidence than some of the Corsa’s over-assisted rivals. The soft ride is a bit knobbly though, and the Corsa can demonstrate that odd mix of soft body control that makes occupants queasy and pattery low-speed ride that makes them irritable.
This excessive vibration is made all the more problematic by the rattling entry-level three-cylinder petrol engine, so avoid this 1.0-litre in favour of the frugal and far nippier 1.2-litre four pots, or better still, dig deeper for a 1.3-litre CDTi diesel. These can offer truly mega mpg and are impressively refined from start-up and at any speed, although they do make the Corsa seem a tad pricey for what it is. Don’t expect a great manual gearbox either, although it’s preferable to the jerky Easytronic.
On the inside
Vauxhall has improved its interior finishing quite dramatically in recent years and there are strong echoes of the tidily executed Astra in the Corsa’s cabin. Soft-touch plastics, nice bits of trim and meaty, tactile controls give the place a generous hint of the premium.
It’s also quite spacious, with the less stylish but vastly more practical five-door models offering a decent rear seat set-up. In contrast, the three-door undoes all the good work in making space by fitting tiny windows that restrict the view out and, ironically, make it feel smaller than it is. All Corsa have a big boot, with a removable flat floor.
The entry-level car, with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, isn’t worth the time of day, but if you can stretch the budget to a basic diesel, there’s low road tax to enjoy and truly impressive fuel returns. The CDTi 95 ecoFLEX claims over 85mpg, which is staggering if it’s true. Not that you’d have a lot of fun trying to find out.
Another string to the Corsa’s bow is a massive network of dealers for both new and used, so there’s lots of readily available servicing and sales. And right now there should be some very good deals to be had. Plus, the lifetime warranty is great.