What Car? says...
Even if you haven’t owned a Vauxhall Corsa you've almost certainly been a passenger in one. That’s because this small car has long been one of the biggest selling models around, appealing to everyone, from teenagers to pensioners.
But why do people love it so much? Well, because Vauxhall has mastered the art of providing its cars with engine and trim choices that fit every budget and need.
That’s something that’s strengthened by Vauxhall being part of the Stellantis Group (alongside Citroën and Peugeot), and the fact that it shares its underpinnings with the latest Peugeot 208. Like the 208, you can get the Corsa as an electric car, and you can read all about that here.
Here, we're focusing on the petrol-engined versions, and while the Corsa is very closely related to the 208, we can assure you it’s definitely not just a cut-and-paste job. Vauxhall has specifically calibrated the steering and suspension to give it a distinct feel of its own. In fact, dimensions aside, it bears little visual resemblance to the 208, inside or out.
And, no matter whether you go for a traditionally powered Corsa or an electric one, it’ll be keenly priced and cheap to insure. That helps to reinforce its appeal in the hotly contested small car class that also includes such strong rivals as the Seat Ibiza and the VW Polo.
So, is the Vauxhall Corsa a good car? Read on for our detailed review, which covers performance and handling, practicality, running costs and much more. And once you know what you want, you can find the best prices using our New Car Buying pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Every regular (non-electric) Vauxhall Corsa comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine and has either 74bhp, 99bhp or 128bhp. We’ve yet to try the entry-level 1.2 Petrol 75PS but expect that its 74bhp and 0-60mph sprint of 12.4sec will feel fairly sluggish and make joining a motorway more difficult.
As such, we suggest going for the more powerful mid-range 1.2 Turbo Petrol 100PS. With 99bhp, it’s more flexible and copes better with motorway journeys. It sprints from 0-60mph in a very respectable 9.3sec, around a second faster than the VW Polo 1.0 TSI 95.
For something faster, you’ll have to go for the range-topping 1.2 130 Turbo. In total, it has 128bhp on offer and pulls harder from lower down in the rev range. It’s the most willing when you put your foot down, accelerating from 0-60mph in just over 8.0sec. That makes it slightly faster than the hybrid Honda Jazz, which did the same sprint in 8.6sec when we tested it.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Corsa handles abrupt bumps, such as potholes and drain covers, with reasonable ease, but tends to be disturbed by smaller road surface imperfections that the softer Peugeot 208 would glide over.
That shortcoming is highlighted if you go for anything other than the entry-level Design trim, which comes with 16in alloy wheels instead of the bigger 17in ones you’ll find on all other versions.
What’s more, despite things improving as speeds increase, the ride never quite settles down as it does in the best small cars including versions of the Audi A1 and the Polo, as well as the 208.
Handling wise, the Corsa is surefooted enough and offers good levels of grip, but it’s not exactly dynamic, exhibiting more body lean than you’ll experience in, say, the Ford Fiesta or the Seat Ibiza.
On top of that, the Corsa’s steering is extremely light. That’s great when it comes to slow parking manoeuvres, but the lack of weight makes it feel vague at faster speeds and results in a less engaging experience than its rivals. Indeed, the steering is miles away from the excellent Fiesta’s (the best-handling car in the class).
GS Line and Ultimate trim both add a Sport mode into the mix. That gives some extra weight to the steering, but it’s not a marked difference and can’t make a dent in the Fiesta’s advantage.
Noise and vibration
There’s a fair bit of wind and road noise at motorway speeds, and the engines are a bit more vocal than in other small cars, such as the Polo, but not unpleasantly so. The trim levels with a Sport mode button allow you to change the exhaust note to something a tad rortier, but also rather artificial.
We've yet to try the five-speed manual gearbox that comes with the 1.2 75 engine, but the six-speed manual that comes with our chosen mid-range engine makes a decent account of itself, with a long throw but a relatively slick action, not unlike the 208's. It’s just a shame that it's not as mechanically delightful as the Fiesta's precise gearshift and that the clutch biting point is a little vague.
The optional eight-speed automatic gearbox (standard with the most powerful engine) can be a little jerky from a standstill, but shifts smoothly on the move, and is nowhere near as recalcitrant as the alternative in the Citroën C3.
Vauxhall Corsa driving overview
Strengths Decent handling; light steering good for city driving
Weaknesses Rivals are more fun to drive
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Take a seat inside the Vauxhall Corsa and you’ll find a good range of adjustment, in both reach and height, to the steering wheel and driver's seat, so you should be able to find a comfortable driving position.
Strangely, the range-topping Ultimate trim comes with a driver’s seat massage function – a feature that’s unusual among small cars – but no version comes with lumbar adjustment.
The air conditioning is controlled using physical buttons and knobs, making it less distracting to operate on the move than the 208’s system, which is controlled through the infotainment touchscreen. That said, the way the Corsa’s air-con controls are recessed into the dashboard below the infotainment screen makes them less immediately visible than the Fiesta’s.
Entry-level Design trim comes with analogue instrument dials as standard, with a 3.5in screen between them to display trip information. If you upgrade to either of the other trims, that set-up is replaced by a 7.0in digital instrument display. It’s not as versatile or sharp as the larger 10.25in display in the VW Polo in Style trim and above, but can show useful information such as sat-nav directions.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
All-round visibility from the Corsa’s driving seat is hampered by comparatively wide front and rear pillars. To help combat that, GS Line trim comes with rear parking sensors, and Ultimate trim adds front parking sensors and a rear-view camera. The Polo offers a better view out, both when looking forwards and backwards.
Every Corsa has bright LED headlights and daytime running lights, with GS Line trim adding LED fog lights. Intelligent matrix LED headlights are standard on the range-topping trim and can shape their light output to avoid dazzling other road users while full beam is selected – an impressive feature that’s rare in this class.
Sat nav and infotainment
In Design and GS Line trims, the Corsa comes with a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard, with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB sockets. You also get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can bypass Vauxhall's software and use your smartphone's apps instead. That's handy because the built-in infotainment software isn’t particularly responsive.
The menu layouts are also a bit fiddly compared with those of the Seat Ibiza and the Polo, but the Corsa's system has a saving grace: it provides physical menu shortcut buttons and a volume knob. They make it slightly less distracting to use as you drive than the touchscreen-only systems of some rivals (including the Polo).
Ultimate trim upgrades the infotainment system to a larger 10.0in touchscreen and adds built-in sat nav. We’ve yet to try it out, though.
While the design of the Corsa’s interior may be about as bold and daring as a grey suit at a wedding, the nuts and bolts of it are pretty decent. It all feels fairly well screwed together, and most of the materials are good quality.
However, the buttons, switches and dials are a weak point, and don't feeling anywhere near as plush as the equivalents used in the Polo. And it’s a real shame that the interior seems so drab when you compare it with the far more stimulating design of the Peugeot 208, which offers a real step up in perceived quality over the Corsa.
Strengths Quality feels good; matrix LED headlights on top-spec model
Weaknesses Infotainment is quite slow; lumbar support adjustment not available
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even tall drivers will find plenty of space up front in the Vauxhall Corsa, with fairly generous head and leg room for the class. As with the very similar Peugeot 208, the car's width, plus the thickness and angle of the front pillars, make the Corsa seem less airy inside than the Seat Ibiza, the Skoda Fabia and the VW Polo.
Front storage space is okay, although the glovebox and the cubbyhole under the central armrest are a bit stingy. Handier is the storage tray at the bottom of the dash that's just right for a phone or wallet. There are also a couple of reasonably sized door bins.
The Corsa’s rear seats aren’t the easiest to get in and out of if you're an adult of above-average stature because of its fairly narrow door apertures. Once inside, though, there's a good amount of room for two tall adults.
Storage space includes a couple of small door bins and map pockets on the back of the front seats.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seats split and fold 60/40 as standard. That's par for the course among small cars but can’t match the versatility of the Jazz’s rear seats, which have bases that flip up like those in a cinema to make loading tall items a doddle.
Even so, no rivals, including the Jazz, offer rear seats that split and fold 40/20/40 or recline and slide. If you’d like those kinds of functions, you’ll have to look at small SUVs like the far more expensive Mini Countryman.
Ultimate models gain height adjustment for the front passenger seat, but there’s no option of lumbar support or electric adjustment for the front passenger (they don’t get the luxurious massage function that the driver does, either).
The Corsa’s boot is a fair size for the class. Sure, there are rivals with greater outright capacity, such as the Fabia and the Polo, but the Corsa has more luggage room than the Ford Fiesta, which swallowed five carry-on sized suitcases in our tests. That means that it should have more than enough space for a large weekly shop.
Access is good and it’s easy to load and unload, but it’s a shame that there’s no height-adjustable boot floor. That’s a feature that many rivals offer to help minimise the drop down to the floor from the boot lip, in turn making them more convenient when loading heavy luggage.
Vauxhall Corsa practicality overview
Strengths Good passenger and boot space for a small car
Weaknesses Honda Jazz is more practical
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The latest Vauxhall Corsa isn’t offered at the bargain prices previous versions were. List prices run close to the Ford Fiesta and the Seat Ibiza but below the Honda Jazz, VW Polo and, surprisingly, the closely related Peugeot 208.
Even better news is that Vauxhall is known for offering big discounts, so make sure you look at our New Car Deals pages to see what savings are available.
Unfortunately, you’re less likely to find a great deal on PCP finance. That’s partly because the Corsa is predicted to depreciate far quicker than most of its rivals, including the Jazz and Polo, meaning that it probably won’t be worth as much when you come to sell in three years. As a result, don't expect the most competitive monthly payments unless Vauxhall provides a hefty contribution to help reduce your instalments.
Among its small car peers, the Corsa’s official CO2 emission figures are impressively low and its official fuel-economy figures are sensible. The 99bhp 1.2 Turbo Petrol 100 returns more than 50mpg, for example.
Equipment, options and extras
In the past, deciphering the Corsa’s many trim levels and spec packs was quite a challenge. Luckily, the range has been simplified, with Vauxhall now offering just three trims: Design, GS Line and Ultimate.
Entry-level Design has most of the everyday basics covered, including 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, electric windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, touchscreen infotainment and visibility aids. It’s ideal if you want to keep costs low, but we’d recommend taking the step up to the next level if you can.
Why? Well, mid-level GS Line trim adds bigger 17in alloy wheels, electronic climate control, automatic wipers, an alarm and headlights, and other upgrades. Upgrading to the top-tier Ultimate trim gives you all the toys you could ever need, including adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry and start. It’s quite expensive, though.
Vauxhall finished in a poor 30th place out of 32 car makers in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey.
Every new Corsa comes with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty. That's average for the class, and Hyundai and Renault cover you for five years, and Kia up to seven.
Safety and security
The Corsa is well provisioned with safety equipment. Lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, speed-limit recognition, a driver fatigue alert system and automatic emergency braking (AEB) are all standard across the range.
Despite those, the model only managed a four-star safety rating from experts Euro NCAP rather than the full five stars that the Fiesta, Ibiza and Polo were awarded.
In the individual categories that make up the overall score, even the closely related Peugeot 208 (also a four-star car) scores higher than the Corsa in some areas. A particular area that NCAP identified where the 208 beats the Corsa is the whiplash protection it offers in low-speed impacts.
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Vauxhall Corsa costs overview
Strengths Good fuel economy; competitive price
Weaknesses Vauxhall's poor reliability record; some rivals are safer
The best engine option for the Corsa is the 1.2 Turbo. It has 99bhp, decent acceleration compared to the entry-level model and is at home on the motorway. We suggest pairing it with the GS Line trim level, which is mid-range and adds the likes of 17in alloys, rear parking sensors, and automatic high-beam headlights to the mix.
The Corsa has long been favoured by young drivers, chiefly because lower-end models attract relatively cheap insurance premiums. This latest Corsa is no different, and also delivers a reasonable safety rating and strong fuel economy to lower running costs.
|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?)||electric, petrol|
|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|