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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For There are lots to choose from, and prices are good. It's also quite distinctive

Against Many rivals drive better, and cabin space and standard equipment are limited

Verdict It's smart, cheap and has good engines, but is below par in too many areas

Go for… 1.0 Life

Avoid… Easytronic cars/1.7-litre diesel

Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback
  • 1. There have been a few steering rack problems
  • 2. Make sure that the cambelts have been replaced every 40,000 miles
  • 3. Interior is small, but it's well put together
  • 4. Boot is good for the car's size, but the rear seats don't fold completely flat
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Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The biggest thing in the favour of the Corsa is its smart styling. That at least makes it quite distinctive because, in almost every other respect, it's thoroughly unremarkable - disappointing, even.

First, this is a supermini with the emphasis on mini. Whereas its contemporary rivals grew ever larger, the Corsa remains one of the smaller cars in its class. The driving position is cramped for taller drivers and even fitting in adults is a squeeze.

The boot, however, is a decent size, but it's disappointing that the split-fold rear seats don't fold completely flat.

There's little problem getting around town, as the Corsa's light power steering makes for easy manoeuvrability and the good rear visibility is great for parking. However, once you hit the open road, things aren't so good. The steering feels numb, too much road and engine noise enters the cabin and there's lots of body roll in corners.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrols popular as 1.0 Life and 1.2 Design and 1.4 automatics find buyers

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Corsa has a fine range of engines, but the smallest, the three-cylinder 1.0-litre and four-cylinder 1.2-litre petrols, stand out. Neither makes the Corsa particularly quick, but they more than make up for any lack of pace with their willingness to rev and fine fuel economy.

The 1.7-litre diesel which was originally fitted is disappointing, particularly for refinement. However, the 1.3-litre CDTi engine which joined the range in 2004 is much better. It's still quite rare and expensive, though

Trim-wise, avoid the most basic Club and Expression models, as they are sparsely equipped. Step up to Comfort or (on models after the 2003 face-lift) Life, and you'll be better off.

That said, none of the trim levels is particularly well equipped, with air-con an option on most and some even doing without a passenger airbag. However, the high numbers sold as new cars mean you can shop around to find the package you want.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability with low repair bills watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

In common with many new cars that sell in such high numbers, the Corsa's heavy depreciation means weak residual values and bargain prices as a used car.

Generally low running costs are also in its favour. Our favourite 1.0- and 1.2-litre engines can return around 50mpg, for instance, while the diesels are capable of more than 60mpg. In fact, you should get 40mpg from pretty much any Corsa, except the hot 1.8-litre versions.

Insurance, too, will place relatively light demands on your wallet. Several models are in the lowest insurance group possible, and only a minority sit higher than group 4.

Routine servicing should be no great problem, either, and Warranty Direct tell us the costs at Vauxhall dealers are pretty much on a par with those at arch-rival Ford's. However, when an unscheduled stop is required, Vauxhalls take more time and money to put right on average

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrols popular as 1.0 Life and 1.2 Design and 1.4 automatics find buyers

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Corsas have proved themselves very tough, sturdy little cars, and there are no particular areas of weakness, although we have heard of a few failures with the power steering rack.

However, it's vitally important to check that any prospective purchase (where necessary) has had its cambelt changed every 40,000 miles. Failure to do so could result in major damage, and an equally major bill.

According to What Car?'s reliability surveys, Vauxhalls as a whole are all-but tied with Fords in terms of their reliability, just below average. The only slight disappointment is that, when problems occur, Vauxhalls take more time and money to fix. However, the omens for the Corsa are good, as the previous generation was one of the 20 most reliable cars on Warranty Direct's fleet.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability with low repair bills watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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