Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback full 9 point review
Four-cylinder petrol options include a 1.2 (the entry-level), a 1.4 and a turbocharged 1.4. A 1.0 turbocharged three-cylinder is available with 89bhp or 114bhp; it's pricey but smooth-revving and flexible, and the 114bhp version is good fun. The 1.4T is cheaper and quick, but isn’t so sweet-revving as the 1.0, while the base 1.2 is very cheap but is also very slow and coarse. Avoid the 1.3 diesel unless economy is a defining factor.
Ride & Handling
Models on 16-inch or smaller wheels get soft suspension, which is pliant and cushioning, though you get a bit of body float over high-speed undulations and the occasional shudder over mid-corner bumps. The firmer set-up you get on 17-inch alloys is a touch harsher over sharp-edged bumps, but makes the Corsa keener to turn into corners, reduces body lean and is never uncomfortable. All Corsas have loads of grip, but the light steering is short on feedback.
Wind and tyre noise make an audible background rush at high speeds, particularly on models with 17-inch alloys, though it’s acceptable by class standards. The four-cylinder 1.4 turbo and 1.2 petrol motors sound coarse even at moderate revs but the 1.0 is the quietest petrol engine in this class; it's also smooth-revving and has fewer vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel than the others. The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick shift, but the five-speeders are a bit rubbery.
Buying & Owning
The Corsa is very keenly priced, often undercutting core rivals. Discounts and finance options are competitive too, but while resale values look set to improve on very poor historic figures, the Corsa will still be worth less used than some rivals, notably the VW Polo. Business users who go for the 89bhp 1.0 will be getting one of the cheapest small cars in the class. Economy is a bit mediocre on this engine, though; it achieved 43.6mpg in our real-world tests.
Quality & Reliability
A variety of textured materials, including gloss-finish trim and cushioned rests on the front doors, make the Corsa’s interior look smart. They generally feel good quality, but the odd sharp edge and brittle-feeling plastic mean the finish still falls short of the VW Polo in this area. Reliability should be good; owners reported few major problems with the old car in the our most recent satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
All Corsas get six airbags, height-adjustable front seatbelts, tyre pressure monitoring, traction control and hill-start assist (so you don’t need to use the handbrake to stop rolling backwards on a hill). There are also packages of hi-tech safety aids, including forward collision alert and lane-assist. You have to pay extra for parking sensors on all but top-spec models, though, and a spare or space-saver tyre costs extra. Remote central locking and engine immobiliser are standard.
Behind The Wheel
The majority of people will be able to get comfortable in the Corsa provided it’s in one of the models that has height adjustment (from Design and up). Even so, it’s short of lower back support, and very long-legged drivers may find the seat doesn’t go back far enough. The air-con controls are simple, but the colour touch-screen can be a bit confusing and slow to respond. Many menus are controlled on the driver’s readout via a rotary switch on the indicator stalk.
Space & Practicality
The Corsa is one of the most practical cars in the class. There’s plenty of headroom in front and back (though access is limited in three-door models), and it’s quite a wide cabin by class standards, too, while average-sized adults will be comfortable in the back. However, while the boot is big, it doesn’t get the variable floor that some rivals do, and you have to go for SRi or up to get 60/40 split rear seats; even then, these leave a big step-up in the load bay when folded.
All cars get heated windscreen and electric front windows, but base Life and Sting lack air-con. Excite gets air-con, multifunction steering wheel, colour touch-screen, Bluetooth and USB connections, auto lights and wipers and alloys. Most will be better off with mid-spec SRi, which adds sports seats, cruise control, heated wing mirrors, and 60/40 split rear seat. Design is intended for business users; it’s cheaper than SRi, but does without alloys and auto lights and wipers.