The Vauxhall Corsa is the company’s best-selling small car, but with the basic car having been on the market since 2006, it is starting to look and feel its age. The Ford Fiesta drives better and is cleaner, the Volkswagen Polo feels higher quality and the Citroen DS3 is better looking, both inside and out.
The challenge for the engineers at Vauxhall is to improve on the car’s weaknesses, without impinging on the competitive pricing and generous interior proportions that have made it so enduringly popular.
Where the previous car falls down compared with rivals is in terms of ride and handling, engines and interior quality. These are the weaknesses Vauxhall has targeted with the new car, but promises that pricing is set to remain competitive.
At a glance, the new Corsa looks like a relatively mild makeover but Vauxhall insist that this is not the case. While the basic bodyshell remains from the previous car, the exterior bodywork shares no common panels with the outgoing model.
Retaining the structure underneath means the Corsa’s impressive interior and boot spaces are intact, just clothed in sharper, more contemporary styling.
The front-end styling is simlar to that on other recent models in the Vauxhall line-up, principally the Adam and Cascada convertible. The front end styling allows the whole nose section to be lowered to comply with pedestrian protection rules. Front and rear curtain airbags are standard on all models too.
Underneath, everything from the windscreen forward is new, meaning reworked suspension and an electric steering set-up which engineers insist improves the ride and the handling. Engineers targeted the Ford Fiesta while fine-tuning the set-up, although they also say that the Corsa should feel more settled than the rival.
As with the outgoing model, three- and five-door models are offered although this time around, the styling of the three-door is more aggressive and sporty, particularly at the rear. The five-door model shown here is pitched as a more comfortable, premium option.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Corsa’s engines are a mixture of those carried over from the previous car and a new range of clean, three-cylinder petrol models.
Carried over from the previous model are the 1.2 and 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines, the latter of which is expected to be the biggest seller.
The clean and frugal 1.3 CDTi diesel engines in 74bhp and 94bhp form are carried across from the previous car, albeit cleaner and with improved refinement. The 94bhp version of the diesel engine is the most economical in the range, with CO2 emissions of 85g/km and an official economy of 87.8mpg.
New to the Corsa is the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. This is a detuned version of the one seen in the Astra with 99bhp and 148lb ft of torque.
A pair of three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo engines are new to the Corsa range and designed to rival the Ecoboost units fitted in the Ford Fiesta. Vauxhall says to expect impressive refinement from the new engine, which first appear in the Adam Rocks convertible. The engines are offered with either 89bhp or 113bhp, and the lower-output engine will emit 99g/km of CO2 and do an average of 54.7mpg.
What’s it like inside?
Vauxhall has worked hard to give the Corsa an interior to be proud of. The previous car’s fascia was dated and fell short in terms of quality and appeal when compared with those in rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo and Citroen DS3.
The new model is vastly improved. The driver’s view of the clear dials is excellent, the quality of the materials is a match for the best in class and a lot of the button clutter has been cleared away in favour of a cleaner interior look.
The lower section of the dash is in a contrasting colour, dependent on trim level which stops it feeling too dark and oppressive. Likewise, an infill panel runs the full width of the dashboard and comes in a range of finishes and colours, depending on trim level. The standard seat finishes and trims are inoffensive although livelier designs and colourways are set to appear through special-edition models.
In terms of infotainment, the two models at the bottom end of the range get a single slot CD/radio unit. Above this, all models get a seven-inch touch screen that pulls together all the entertainment controls into one place, although the heating and ventilation systems are controlled by a traditional trio of rotary switches underneath. DAB radio is standard on on touch-screen models.
When can I buy it?
The Corsa is unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and will be available to rder shortly after, before hitting dealer forecourts in November. It will be launched with all seven trim levels available in all bodystyles.
We've already driven a prototype of the new 2015 Vauxhall Corsa - read our verdict