2020 Vauxhall Corsa-e review: price, specs and release date

We've driven the fully electric Vauxhall Corsa-e to see if it should prove as popular as its petrol-powered counterpart...

Vauxhall Corsa

Priced from £27,165 (after government grant) Release date April 2020

The Vauxhall Corsa has long been a sensational sales hit for Vauxhall. Oh, what the British brand would give for a similarly seismic impact in the electric car market with the Vauxhall Corsa-e.

The car has had a bit of a head start in life, sharing oily bits with the Peugeot e-208; in much the same way the petrol and diesel versions of the Corsa and 208 are alike. The main difference between them is, obviously, the styling – mechanically they are very similar.

Compared to the conventionally powered Corsa, the Corsa-e has a slightly longer wheelbase, with a rear axle pushed further back to help accommodate the 50kWh lithium-ion battery packaged in an H pattern under the front and rear seats. But enough talk, what's it like?

Corsa

2020 Vauxhall Corsa-e on the road

Start the car, and at low speeds you have that now familiar yet eerie electric hum as it moves off. Vauxhall quotes a 0-31mph time of 2.8sec to illustrate this car’s punchy electric push in the back away from the traffic lights. A 0-60mph sprint in 7.6sec makes it significantly quicker than smaller electric cars like the Seat Mii, and also the Renault Zoe, but it’s still slower than the Mini Electric.

The steering feels nicer than it does in the petrol Corsa. It has more weight, it so doesn’t have that limp, lifeless feel of the standard Corsa, and it’s really easy to drive, much like the e-208. The ride of the Corsa-e edges towards the firm side but all its body movements are well controlled, it never feels concerningly uncomfortable and it generally feels more hunkered down than the standard Corsa. That’s largely down to that battery pack adding an extra 355kg to its weight and the suspension being tuned accordingly to accommodate it. So while a trip down a cobbled street would have you bouncing around in a Renault Zoe, the Corsa-e is more controlled. This also translates to handling that actually feels pretty agile by electric car standards, with the car keeping body lean to a minimum through corners.

There are no different settings for the suspension – but you’ll need it in Sport mode to extract the best performance from it – ‘Normal’ and ‘Eco’ switch the focus more to elongating the battery range.

209 miles is officially what the Corsa-e is said to manage, virtually identical to the 211-mile e-208. It’s also farther than the 162 miles the Seat Mii Electric will travel, although a Renault Zoe gets an official range of 245 miles, and a Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric will go even further in real-world driving conditions. So the Corsa-e is comfortably in the middle of the pack.

To charge up from a wallbox at home (which is fitted for you as standard) takes seven hours and 30 minutes from 0-100% – fine for an overnight charge. But it’s also capable of charging at 100kW – so long as you can find a rapid charger in the UK – which will get it from 0-80% in just 30 minutes. You can charge it from a domestic three-pin socket, but this takes more than 24 hours, and you have to pay extra to get that cable.

Vauxhall Corsa interior

2020 Vauxhall Corsa-e interior

Inside the design does little to stir the soul, with as much character as a corporate airport hotel room. There’s little wrong with the quality, which is robust throughout, but it looks especially sober compared to the exuberant interior of the e-208. The infotainment system graphics also look quite Windows 95, and the screen doesn’t have the swish, easy responsiveness to it that the best touchscreens have. But at least the air-con controls aren’t hidden within several submenus on the touchscreen like in its Peugeot cousin – you get simple physical dials in the Corsa-e instead.

Despite a big battery getting shoved into it, there’s been no compromise on interior space for the Corsa-e compared to the standard Corsa. Well, that is except for the fact you can’t fit in a spare wheel, and there’s no underfloor storage in the boot. So that means it offers more luggage space than a Mini Electric, but a Zoe is bigger. In the back, meanwhile, it compares pretty favourably to those rivals – offering more headroom than either.

And while there are only two trim levels they are both pretty well equipped, with SE Nav getting Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation and climate control, while Elite Nav adds heated seats and LED headlights.

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