Vauxhall Corsa

* We test the top 10 superminis * Which is today's best buy * See the results in full here...

Author Avatar
What Car? Staff
22 September 2009

Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Club AC 5dr
List price 12,695
Target Price
0845 272600011,542

In 2007, the Corsa was our Car of the Year. At the risk of jumping the gun, we can tell you that here it's beaten by six newer offerings. Nothing illustrates the rate of progress in the motor industry more than the supermini class.

Little has gone wrong with the Corsa in the interim, except that uncertainty over Vauxhall's future seems to have scuppered its already weak second-hand values, which now stand at a miserable 36% after three years.

It's just that the car's then-minor weaknesses have become more major, such as the engine, which was never much to write home about.
On paper, it's a routine-for-the-class 1.4-litre petrol unit with 89bhp and 92lb ft of torque. However, those figures don't reveal that the engine has to rev quite hard before significant torque arrives, so the gearing is low to compensate.

1364cc, 4cyl
89bhp @ 5600rpm
92lb ft @ 4000rpm
Average economy
Boot (min/max)
285/1100 litres
This hardly improves the less-than-dulcet sounds emanating from under the bonnet. Low gearing is the enemy of economy, too, so the Corsa doesn't fare too well in that department, either. To maintain momentum at lower speeds, you have to flail away with a gearshift that's best likened to stirring gravel.

Vauxhall has never been exactly generous in its provision of equipment, and the Corsa is no exception. It's now a relatively expensive car (12,990 with air-conditioning, before a four-figure discount), yet there's no stability control, and it comes with lowly 15-inch steel wheels.

Still, thus equipped, it rides sweetly and handles almost unflappably. However, to make it look more attractive, our test car had 17-inch alloy wheels that allow you to delete the word 'almost', but they do no favours to the Corsa's ride.

The cabin hides the gaps in specification rather well, though. There's a smart dashboard, with soft plastics, 'piano black' cappings and lots of chrome, although if you're tall, you have to set the seat in a position that makes you feel as though you're perched in a bucket.

At least there's adequate rear space and most of the flexibility you expect in a car of this class.

If much of this seems harsh, it's because little things make all the difference at this level. No doubt Vauxhall will fight back when the Corsa gets a mid-life update. It needs to.