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The Top Gear car review: Vauxhall Corsa
For:Best-looking, best-driving, most refined small Vauxhall ever. Makes great use of Peugeot’s hard work
Against:You can spot the joins all over the rushed interior
What is it?
The second new Vauxhall Corsa that’s been dreamt up in the last three years. And the only one you’ll ever actually see. Confused? Strap in for a crash course in car industry economics: two and a half years ago, with a new Corsa design firmly agreed and production ready to kick off, Vauxhall-Opel was bought out by Peugeot-Citroen. And the merger wasn’t about to let its new acquisition carry on with a new supermini using not so much as a washer or bolt from its new foster parents. So, Vauxhall had to start all over again. Only this time, the instructions were in French.
Two and a half years later – a spectacularly short turnaround time for a brand-new car – the new Corsa is here. Many of the oily and electrical bits are shared with the new Peugeot 208. There’ll also be, fairly soon, an all-electric e-Corsa twinned with the new e-208. For now, we’ve driven only the three-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesel versions. Welcome as the EV option is, it’ll be the humble 1.2-litre petrol mainly tasked with adding to the Corsa’s haul of over two million UK sales in the last quarter-century.
Will folks recognise it as a Corsa? Though Vauxhall’s done a good job of drawing a car that doesn’t look obviously Peugeot-related, it’s a big design shift from the van-like Corsas of yore. This new one is 48mm lower at the roof and the driver sits 28mm lower. The dashboard juts out less into the cabin.
The new car is a smidge longer, and fractionally narrower. It looks more planted, squat and purposeful. Handsome? Probably more so than a Fiesta or a Polo, at any rate. Awkwardly, it’s not as much of a head-turner as Peugeot’s 208 or Citroen’s C3, though. Can’t imagine that was deliberate.
Tech headlines come in the shape of a bigger touchscreen, a digital instrument display on top-spec models, LED lights across the range (with adaptive ‘matrix’ main-beam on the options list) and an eight-speed automatic gearbox, shared with you-know-what. It’s a five-door only this time, and there’s not a sniff of a hotted-up VXR performance version, for the foreseeable future. Hey-ho. The base car is up to 100kg lighter than before. That’ll help it just about everywhere.
So, think of the Corsa as a play-it-safe 208, riffing off the French car’s likeable powertrains but eschewing the divisive i-Cockpit interior layout. The right compromise? In some ways, yes. So let’s get on with the best news of all – that at last, this is a Corsa that’s good to drive.