Vauxhall Corsa hatchback performance
The Corsa's engine range is mercifully simple: all four options are 1.4-litres in capacity and petrol-fuelled.
You can probably also cross the 74bhp engine off your shortlist unless you barely leave the city’s limits, because it’s very slow. The 89bhp version is better, but you still need to work it hard to get the best from it.
Our pick of the range is the 99bhp engine, because it throws a turbocharger into the mix for much punchier acceleration, particularly at low revs. At the top of the range is a more heavily boosted version of this engine with 148bhp. Exclusively available in the Corsa GSi, it's brisk but certainly not hot hatch-fast.
Vauxhall Corsa hatchback ride
All Corsas with 17in alloy wheels (either standard or fitted as an option) get sports suspension as standard. This firmer approach results in a slightly harsher ride over sharp-edged bumps, although things are still pretty settled over most surfaces. In short, you shouldn’t let it put you off if you like the sportier look that bigger wheels bring.
The comfort suspension is better, though, because it’s appreciably suppler over big bumps and more composed over intrusions such as manhole covers and expansion joints. It can still be slightly fidgety along rippled town roads, though.
The final suspension option is unique to the GSi. With even stiffer springs and clever dampers, it proves rather firm when fitted with the optional 18in alloy wheels. But while you will feel every imperfection in the road, the dampers provide good body control to avoid any pogoing.
Vauxhall Corsa hatchback handling
The regular suspension doesn’t keep body movements in check particularly well through tight twists and turns, so you do feel a bit like the car is leaning over onto its door handles. Still, there’s enough grip, so the Corsa never feels too wayward.
The sports suspension (fitted to cars with 17in alloy wheels) reduces body sway through bends, while the GSi resists roll very well. But while the GSi corners flatly and has loads of grip, it lacks the playful nature that makes the Ford Fiesta ST so much fun. Unfortunately, all Corsas have somewhat vague steering that’s inconsistently weighted and doesn’t give you much sense of what’s going on with the front wheels.
All Corsas feature a button labelled City that brings super-light steering, making it easier to park.
Vauxhall Corsa hatchback refinement
Wind and tyre noise are an audible background din at motorway speeds, particularly on Coras with 17in wheels. Rivals such as the Polo and Ibiza are quieter cruising companions. All of the Corsa’s engines are coarse-sounding, even at moderate revs.
Depending on which engine you go for, you get either a five or six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Neither is as good as the equivalent ’box in the Ibiza or Fiesta, but the six-speeder is at least reasonably light and precise.
If you need an automatic, avoid the jerky five-speed Easytronic gearbox and go for the six-speed unit (available only on the 1.4i 90).