What Car? says...
The Vauxhall Corsa Electric is the fully electric version of one of the most popular cars in Britain. Indeed, the Vauxhall Corsa is frequently at the top of the sales charts.
Compared with petrol-powered Corsas, the Electric has a slightly longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels), with its rear axle pushed further back to accommodate its big battery under the seats. The suspension and steering have been tuned differently too, to cope with its extra weight.
Given that it doesn’t stray far from the Corsa concept that so many people love, it’s a compelling choice. A recent facelift should bolsters that appeal even further, adding smart new styling, a cheaper Design trim level and new Long Range trims that get a more powerful motor and a slightly bigger battery.
But is this recipe enough to take on the closely related Peugeot e-208 (both manufacturers are part of the Stellantis group), to tempt us away from the lovely interior of the Mini Electric or the practicality of the Nissan Leaf?
In this review we'll tell you how the Vauxhall Corsa Electric squares up for performance, practicality, running costs and range between charges, as well as how long it takes to charge back up again. We'll also tell you which version we think is the best choice.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
In terms of acceleration, the Vauxhall Corsa Electric is among the quickest models in the Corsa range. In our tests, the standard 134bhp version managed 0-60mph in 8.0 seconds (the official 0-62mph time is 8.9 seconds), so it's comfortably quicker than the Renault Zoe, although not as nippy as the MG4 or Mini Electric.
The slightly more powerful 154bhp option has a faster official 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds, but you’d have to drive them back-to-back to notice the difference. There’s plenty of punch for overtaking and getting up to motorway speeds, especially when you have access to the car’s full power in Sport drive mode.
We’d stop short of calling the Corsa Electric ‘sporty’ though. That’s because, despite having firmer suspension than petrol-powered Corsas, it leans significantly through the corners – a side effect of lugging around a heavy battery.
What’s more, while the steering has been tuned for the extra weight, it’s still rather vague. Its natural response means it’s easy to place on the road, but the Mini Electric and the Peugeot e-208 are both more fun through corners, thanks largely to their sharper and more accurate steering set-ups.
The ride of the Corsa Electric edges towards the firm side, which makes it a little fidgety over abrasive surfaces. Unlike the more supple e-208, it struggles to take the sting out of sharper intrusions, such as potholes and expansion joints. That said, its ride never becomes outright uncomfortable, and overall it's more agreeable along bumpy roads than the Mini Electric.
While you drive along those bumpy roads, you’ll hear some suspension noise but wind and road noise is well contained until you reach motorway speeds. The brakes, meanwhile, feel curiously spongy compared to those of most petrol cars, and even many electric cars, which can make it hard to slow down smoothly.
Officially, the Corsa Electric Long Range can travel the furthest, with a range of up to 246 miles between charges. That's similar to the closely-related e-208 and a little more than the Renault Zoe’s 239 miles, but way down on the 323 miles that the similarly priced MG4 Extended Range will manage.
The standard battery isn’t far behind, with a range of 222 miles that’s competitive against the entry-level MG4 EV (218 miles). The problem is that, in the real world, you'll be lucky to get more than 180 miles out of the Corsa – and that's in warm weather. In the depths of winter, 150 miles is more realistic.
Strengths Decent acceleration; competitive range with larger battery option
Weaknesses Relatively noisy on the motorway; spongy brake pedal; noisy suspension
The interior layout, fit and finish
Inside, the Vauxhall Corsa Electric looks very different to the Peugeot e-208, despite the two cars being closely related. The Corsa Electric's layout is far more conventional and conservative, although that does bring some benefits.
For example, you're likely to have fewer issues viewing the 7in digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel. In the e-208, the instruments are mounted above the wheel, which doesn't suit everyone.
Plus, the Corsa Electric has physical controls and buttons to control its air-conditioning. Some minor functions require digging into the climate control menu on the centre touchscreen (which inconveniently overrides the sat-nav map), but it’s far less of a faff than the e-208’s touchscreen-only set-up.
Speaking of which, entry-level Design trim comes with a 7in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. GS Line adds sat-nav, and if you pair that with the Long Range battery, you get a larger 10in screen and two rear USB-C ports. That extra equipment and relatively keen pricing means it's our favourite. Ultimate trim shares that larger screen but, while it has a sharper resolution and a quick response to your prods, we still prefer the Mini Electric’s system.
Setting up your driving position is easy enough, with plenty of steering and seating adjustment. If you want adjustable lumbar support you’ll need to fork out for top-spec Ultimate trim, although that does include a massaging function.
In terms of seeing out of the car, the Corsa Electric's thick windscreen pillars obscure some of your view through corners. Likewise, the rear pillars and tapering roofline reduces your field of vision when looking back over your shoulder, too.
Nervous parkers shouldn’t be put off, though, because it comes with rear parking sensors as standard. Front sensors come as standard on mid-range GS trim while the Long Range version also gets a rear-view camera.
At night, all models come with LED headlights. GS trim level comes with front foglights, while Ultimate adds matrix LED headlights that adjust the shape of their high beam to avoid dazzling other road users.
Interior quality is decent enough – roughly on a par with the Zoe's. Despite a few glossy trim finishers and some suede-like material fitted on higher trim levels, the majority of the interior is covered in cheap-feeling, scratchy plastic material.
It’s more acceptable on a much cheaper petrol-powered Corsa, but considering the extra cost, a similarly-priced e-208 feels a little more upmarket. If you want a small electric car with a genuinely plush interior, have a look at the Mazda MX-30 or the Mini Electric.
Strengths Simple, easy-to-use interior
Weaknesses Materials feel a little cheap; adjustable lumbar support limited to top-spec trim
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Although the Vauxhall Corsa Electric is a relatively small car, even tall drivers aren't likely to grumble about the amount of space in the front.
Head and leg room are decent, and the interior is wide enough that you won't risk an elbow fight between front-seat occupants. If you pay extra for the panoramic sunroof on Ultimate trim, you get a few millimetres more head room.
In the back, the Corsa Electric compares favourably with the Mini Electric and the Renault Zoe, with more head room than either rival can offer. There’s enough space for children and anyone of modest stature, but two larger adults won't want to spend too long in the back because of the limited leg room.
If you're looking for an electric car in this price bracket that can more comfortably carry around four tall adults, check out the MG4 and Nissan Leaf.
The Corsa and the closely related Peugeot e-208 both have relatively small rear-door apertures that can make it a bit awkward to climb aboard. Mind you, at least there are rear doors: the Electric Fiat 500 and the Mini Electric are available in three-door form only.
The Corsa Electric’s boot is smaller than in petrol versions, with 267 litres of volume, rather than 309, and no space for a spare wheel. That’s more space than in the Mini Electric but far less than the Zoe, which has a 338 litre boot and will be far more useful if you need to carry a buggy around, for example.
If boot space is important to you, the larger MG 4 and Volkswagen ID 3 might be of more interest. Their bigger boots both managed to swallow five carry-on sized suitcases in our tests.
Strengths Plenty of space in the front; better rear head room than most rivals
Weaknesses Smaller boot than rivals; limited rear leg room
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The entry-level, standard range Vauxhall Corsa Electric is priced roughly in line with the Peugeot e-208, but costs slightly more than the Renault Zoe. That makes it one of the most affordable electric cars on sale, although the entry-level MG4 still costs quite a bit less. Meanwhile, the Long Range versions cost around the same as rivals with larger batteries and better ranges, including the MG 4 Extended Range.
Depreciation is likely to be broadly on a par with the e-208 and the Zoe, while the Mini Electric is expected to hold on to its value considerably better. That can have an effect on PCP monthly finance payments, so make sure you take a look at our Vauxhall Corsa Electric deals to save some money.
You have three trims to choose from: Design, GS Line and Ultimate. Entry-level Design has been added to the range to keep costs down and is only available with the standard battery. Even so, it gets plenty of standard kit, including 16in alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, an electrically dimming rear-view mirror and the parking sensors and automatic LED headlights we mentioned earlier.
We’d advise taking a step up to the sportier GS Line, though, because it comes with the Long Range battery option. On top of that, it gets extra kit, including larger 17in alloys, keyless ignition, sports front seats, wireless phone charging, rear privacy glass and black exterior highlights.
Top-spec Ultimate trim is only available with the Long Range battery and gets you heated front seats with massaging function, keyless entry and a heated steering wheel. We don't think it's worth the extra cost.
The Corsa Electric has a maximum charging speed of 100kW from a rapid CCS public charger so a 10-80% top-up can theoretically take around 27 minutes in ideal conditions. A Peugeot e-208 will be similar, with both taking a lot less time than a Renault Zoe, and being slightly quicker than an MG4.
Charging up from 0-100% using a 7kW home wall box will take around seven hours and 30 minutes.
The Corsa Electric was awarded four stars out of five for safety by the experts at Euro NCAP back in 2019, which is a bit disappointing. It lost points for doing a poor job of protecting front and rear seat passengers against whiplash. Thankfully, you get automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and a driver drowsiness monitoring system as standard.
We don't have reliability data on the Corsa Electric yet, but we can tell you that Vauxhall finished 30th place out of 32 car makers in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. The model is covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, while its battery gets an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
Strengths Lower trim levels are competitively priced; generous standard kit; decent charging rate
Weaknesses Brand reliability may be a concern; disappointing safety rating
If you go for the entry-level Corsa Electric Design, it’ll cost you about the same as the closely related Peugeot e-208, slightly more than the Renault Zoe and lots more than the MG 4. The Long Range, meanwhile, costs around the same as rivals with bigger batteries, including the MG 4 Extended Range.
Officially, the standard range Corsa Electric can travel up to 222 miles between charges, while the Long Range version increases that range to 246 miles.
No matter which Corsa Electric you go for, it’ll be faster than any other Corsa in the range. You see, the standard 134bhp version can officially sprint from 0-62mph in 8.9sec and the more powerful 154bhp Long Range version decreases that time to 8.2sec.
With a maximum charging rate of 100kW, the Corsa Electric can charge from 10-80% in around 27min, matching that of the Peugeot e-208. Plug into a 7kW charger, meanwhile, and the Corsa Electric will take around seven and a half hours to go from 0-100%.
|RRP price range||£19,625 - £38,585|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||5|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, electric|
|MPG range across all versions||51.4 - 55.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£65 / £1,575|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£130 / £3,149|