Mature and crisp drive, decent fuel economy, it's the best Corsa ever
Not much actual substance, drab interior, inherits Peugeot's confusing touchscreen
What is it?
This is the sixth generation of the Corsa – if you include the first generation car, which was sold as the Nova in the UK but known as the Corsa everywhere else. It was launched in 2019, with a delayed release thanks to then-new Vauxhall owner PSA Group wanting to build the car on one of its own platforms rather than one harking back to the previous General Motors regime.
It's a familiar set-up that hasn’t changed much over the years, and Vauxhall must be doing something right because as we write the Corsa is Britain’s best-selling supermini, and third overall behind only the Ford Puma and Nissan Qashqai . Not bad for something that isn’t an SUV. Many of the bits underneath are shared with the Peugeot 208, and of course there's the electric version of the Corsa, niftily named the Corsa Electric, which is twinned with the e-208.
Looks very stylish, doesn’t it?
It does. And that’s because the facelifted version has brought it into line with the rest of the Vauxhall range, adopting that Zorro-like strip across the nose. Gives it more purpose, somehow. En garde!
The fresh look was desperately needed, not least because the 208 had it beaten hands down in the styling department. Now at least it can compete with stuff like the VW Polo, Toyota Yaris, Citroen C3, Renault Clio, Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20. The Ford Fiesta of course is no longer with us, having passed through the pearly gates of Car Heaven.
What are the engine options then?
There’s the electric version, of course, but when it comes to petrol engines (no diesel anymore) there’s just the one 1.2-litre 3cyl option available in three states of tune. The entry-level naturally aspirated version produces 74bhp, then you’ve got two turbocharged options with 99bhp and 128bhp.
These three get from 0–62mph in 13.2, 9.9 and 8.7 seconds respectively, the most powerful engine only available with an eight-speed auto gearbox that saps some of the potency. The entry petrol gets a five-speed and the middle engine a six-speed manual. All options are rated for around 130g/km CO2 and 55mpg, and you'll get close to that figure out in the real world.
A hybrid will arrive at some stage in 2024. Keep the bunting on standby.
So what’s it like to drive?
Corsas of old were wooden to drive, and nowhere near as lively and vivacious as the equivalent Fiesta. No longer. This is a mature, crisp, well mannered car that’s reassuring and well controlled on the road. It doesn’t fizz with energy, but it's well damped and insulated, comes across as robust and capable, and doesn’t wilt at the first sign of a corner.
The 1.2 triple is a good engine, and whether you should go electric is debatable. Not if you’re on a tight budget. Otherwise, it’s not a bad option, the 51kWh version delivering a claimed 246-mile range and perkier performance than any other Corsa (0–62mph in 8.2s).
Is it any good inside?
What a shame that the bland and incongruous cabin lets the Corsa down. It’s dark up front, cramped in the back and there’s little sense of style, ambition or attraction – all things that the Peugeot 208 does well at. Head to the Interior tab of this review for the full breakdown.
How much does it cost?
Prices start at £19,625 for the entry Design model with 74bhp engine, rising to just over £28k for the Ultimate spec car with the 128bhp petrol. If you want to go electric you’re looking at a £6k–£8k uplift.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Corsa’s bland cabin rather snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. All previous Corsas have reeked of mediocrity, but this one drives with poise and precision – it’s more refined, efficient, comfortable and it looks smart too. It’s less toylike. More desirable. It offers a glimpse of Vauxhall’s brighter future with its French parents signing cheques and sharing tech.
Other cars in the Vauxhall range have been launched since the Corsa and they’ve shown the benefit of Vauxhall’s latest living arrangements: better interiors with better quality materials. Unfortunately the facelift has improved things in that regard. The Corsa puts up a decent fight at last, but there are stronger alternatives out there still.