Vauxhall Corsa Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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What is it like to drive?

It takes about three corners behind the Corsa's (usual-sized, not teeny Peugeot-esque) steering wheel to discover this new one reacts, rides and handles night-and-day better than any Corsa before it. Yes you sit lower, and yes the seat is more supportive, but it’s the linearity of the steering weight, and the sharpness of the response off centre that wakes you out of your ‘oh it’s a Vauxh-zzzzz’ slumber.

This is an agile, peppy little car. We're focusing on the petrol here of course, but you can read our full review of the Corsa Electric by clicking these blue words. In internal combustion form you'll marvel at how game it feels. And Vauxhall has tried here – it’s reinforced the suspension mounts for the sportier models so turn-in is crisper. You even get a (Peugeot-pinched) Sport button and the fake engine growl to go with it.

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How does it compare with the Peugeot 208?

After another three corners, the next thing to awkwardly rub in Peugeot’s nose is the fact the Corsa’s easier to fling through bends than the 208, because the steering wheel isn’t from a fairground ride. In the petrol versions, it rides with a pleasing balance of firmness and control, too.

The 1.2-litre 99bhp triple is a fine engine, with adequate performance and a chirrupy sound. The gearing puts it under the cosh if you want to get cracking, but that’s par for the course, and it's a problem exorcised by the sprightlier 128bhp version. And the handling deserves it.

We haven't actually tried it, but given our impressions of the mid-range engine we'd avoid the entry level 74bhp version with its fewer gears (a six-speed manual in the 99bhp plays a five-speed in the 74bhp).

There’s nothing sporty about the eight-speed automatic which is standard fit for the 128bhp iteration, but it doesn’t fumble the job too badly and makes the car a very flexible and mature way of getting about. It’s a grown-up Corsa, and yet the most fun ordinary Corsa ever.

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And that even extends to the Corsa Electric. Sure, it’s not as stylish for the person-about-town as the glitzy e-208, but if you want to blend in rather than cut a swathe, here’s an electric car that doesn’t feel compelled to holler about its eco credentials in a blur of flashy green graphics. Electric power suits the Corsa’s manners.

Can it cope with long journeys?

It’s much less wearing over distance than it used to be. The driving position makes more sense, because it’s no longer like being sat on a space-hopper in a telephone box. You’re sat lower in the car, and don’t feel like you’re reaching down to operate everything. Apart from some wind rustle around the mirrors at motorway speed, it’s very quiet too. Quiet enough to make a Polo much less smug.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Turbo GS Line 5dr Auto
  • 0-628.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP130
  • MPG
  • Price£23,520

the cheapest

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Design 5dr
  • 0-6212.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP75
  • MPG
  • Price£17,770

Variants We Have Tested

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