Vauxhall Corsa long-term test

It's one of the most popular small cars in the UK, but are the Corsa's huge sales well-earned? We're living with a petrol example to find out...

2024 Vauxhall Corsa long-term review hello

The car Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Turbo GS Run by George Hill, staff writer

Why it’s here To find out whether Britain’s most popular small car is more than just a no-nonsense runabout

Needs to Make a daily commute through central London as easy as possible, while also being fun to drive, practical and cheap to run

Miles covered 2243 List price £22,905 Target Price £19,590 Price as tested £23,605 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 44.0mpg Dealer price now £15,606 Private price now £13,872 Running costs (excluding depreciation) £223.53 (fuel)

5 May 2024 – It’s easy as A to B

Whenever I upgrade my mobile phone, I briefly think about whether I should switch from an iPhone to a different model. However, when push comes to shove, I always end up returning to the Apple store; I'm comfortable with how iPhones work, and all of those people with them in their pockets can't be wrong, right?

In many ways, then, my Vauxhall Corsa is a bit like an iPhone. It’s hugely popular, with more than 40,000 of them sold in the UK last year, and the numerous repeat buyers are clearly choosing it because they know it will do everything they need it to.

Vauxhall Corsa long-term test goodbye car park

But is that enough for me to recommend it? This is a question I’ve been thinking about over the past few months while living with my Corsa, and now that my time with it has come to an end, my experience has led me to believe that it is – at least partially.

One thing I’ve appreciated is just how easy it is to drive. I’m lucky enough to be able to experience many different types of car with my job, but whenever I get back into the Corsa after being in something else, I’m always impressed at how comfortable it feels to return to. Unlike with the Peugeot 208, for example, (with its ‘i-Cockpit’ steering wheel configuration, which leaves the instruments obscured for some drivers), everyone will be able to find a good driving position, and the controls are all well positioned.

Vauxhall Corsa long-termer with passengers

The Corsa is also a car that doesn’t feel as small as its size suggests. I filled it with luggage and people several times, and its boot even managed to take a set of golf clubs and several small weekend bags.

My chosen 99bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine is a good match for the Corsa. Some small cars are powered by wheezy three-cylinder units that leave you yearning for more oomph, especially when pulling out of junctions, overtaking or merging onto the motorway. However, the turbocharged unit in my car has never left me hanging; it’s been brilliant for driving either in the city or on the motorway. In fact, a recent drive in an example of the much bigger Citroën C5 X powered by essentially the same engine reminded me of just how flexible this 1.2 is.

Vauxhall Corsa at petrol station

This does bring me to the first negative with the Corsa, though, because while I’ve appreciated the engine’s peppy nature, I can’t help but think it should be slightly more efficient. Okay, I’ve averaged 44.0mpg during my time with the car, which isn’t bad considering I’ve been driving mostly at low speeds and in traffic. However, even on longer journeys, I haven’t managed to get it much higher than that, or anywhere near the official 55.4mpg figure. What's more, I have proof this isn't because I'm heavy footed; when we put the car through our scientific Real MPG fuel economy test it returned 45.2mpg.

The interior also left me slightly disappointed. Of course, looks are subjective, but to me it feels like it’s been designed and built to a budget; it doesn't have the appealing lines, contours and materials that you get with the 208 or Renault Clio. Plus, while the build quality is mostly solid, my car ended up emitting a slightly annoying buzzing sound from somewhere within the dashboard.

George driving Vauxhall Corsa in countryside

The infotainment system could be more intuitive, too, as noted by it finishing in last place in our recent infotainment system test. The layout and functions are very basic, and the touchscreen response is a bit slow. But on the up side, Vauxhall has since updated the infotainment in the Corsa; I tested the new system in the Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and it's a big step forward, with quicker responses and a simpler layout.

I’ve mostly enjoyed my time with the Corsa, then, and can understand why many owners say "same again, please" whenever their PCP finance agreement comes to an end. However, I can’t help but think that there are some other small cars, such as the Clio, that I might have liked even more. Perhaps I might look more closely at an Android phone the next time my mobile is due for an upgrade.

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