What's the used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback like?
Easy to drive, well made and often well equipped, the Vauxhall Corsa is one of those cars that is omnipresent on the nation's roads because it has something to offer the majority of drivers. It's perhaps not the most exciting of purchases, but it would not be fair to dismiss the Corsa for that reason. It is, after all, very hard to please all people, all of the time.
This generation, which ran from 2014 until 2019, was known as the Corsa E to insiders (not to be confused with the Corsa-e, which is the company's latest electric car). It was essentially a complete reskin of the car it replaced, which ran from 2006 to 2014, with heavily revised underpinnings, too.
There was a large choice of engines available, the majority being petrol, but there were a couple of Euro 6-compliant 1.3-litre diesel versions (74 and 94bhp) if you needed better fuel economy. For those who made mostly urban journeys, both the 1.2 and non-turbocharged 1.4 petrols did just fine, but for faster routes, you might have wanted to go for one of three turbocharged petrol options: an 89bhp 1.0-litre, a 99bhp 1.4 or a more powerful 113bhp version of the 1.0-litre engine. There was also a lukewarm hot-hatch GSi with a turbocharged 148bhp 1.4 or, if you fancied something hotter, there was also a 202bhp 1.6-litre engine, as fitted to the VXR.
In 2018 they were all replaced by a quartet of Euro 6.2-compliant 1.4 petrol engines producing 74bhp, 89bhp, 99bhp and 148bhp.
When it comes to trim levels, this Corsa's have always been many and varied. Life, Sting and Active trims are a bit too basic, and you should instead go for a Design model with air-con, the 7.0in infotainment system and Bluetooth. SRi and Limited Edition models add sporty exterior and interior touches plus a more practical 60/40 split for the bench in the back.
If you want to get into a really posh Corsa, look at either Excite, Energy or SE trims; they give you heated front seats with a heated steering wheel on Excite and Energy cars, while SE models come with front and rear parking sensors. SRi VX-Line and SRi VX Nav Black models have bigger alloy wheels and firmer sports suspension.
The driving experience is where this generation of the Corsa is a let down. It’s an easy car to drive, and it’s about as quiet as its contemporaries, but it doesn’t steer with the accuracy of the Ford Fiesta, nor does it manage to be as capable at long-distance motorway work as the Volkswagen Polo. Of the engine options, in the later cars, the 74bhp 1.4 petrol is fine for town driving, but you should hold out for the turbocharged 99bhp unit for motorway trips. The 148bhp petrol 1.4 engine makes the car brisk.
Most of the interior is also made from classy materials, with only a few brittle pieces of trim undermining the overall feeling of quality. Design trim cars and above get a 7.0in colour touchscreen that can become an extension of your smartphone through the use of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, thus enabling you to have sat-nav in your Corsa. It isn’t as intuitive as the system in the Skoda Fabia, as the buttons for the volume control can easily be knocked if you rest your hand on the screen.
The Corsa is a rather spacious small car, especially the five-door version, where rear occupants are treated to one of the most capacious back seats in the class. There's much more head room in the Corsa than either the Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta, which helps if you have child seats in the back. To that end, those rear doors do open wide to help you to load children into their seats.
Drivers with long legs might not be too happy with the amount of leg room available, finding that the front seats don’t go quite far enough back. The driver’s seat might also be a bit mean on back support for some. If you want seat height adjustment, then you will need to avoid Life trim and go for Sting or above.
If you're interested in finding a used Corsa, or any of the other small cars mentioned here, head over to the Used Car Buying pages to find lots of cars listed for sale at a great price.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback?
The Vauxhall Corsa has rather large pillars front and rear, which restrict your view out and can pose some difficulty when parking it – Vauxhall even offered a self-parking feature as part of an option pack – so check for any scrapes or dings to the bumpers or bodywork, as these can be expensive to put right.
Check the alloy wheels if your potential purchase has them. As it is a town car, previous owners may have mounted or brushed up against a kerb or two during their ownership and damaged the surface of wheels.
Also, check the interior for any broken bits of trim, and that the seat fabric hasn’t been damaged by child seats. We have been told by an owner of seat clips breaking, making it hard to release the seatback. It could be an isolated incident, but it is worth checking that the seats fold as they should.
What are the most common problems with a used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback?
Steering rack may fracture
Due to a problem with the manufacturing process of the steering rack, the steering gear might break under load – ie. when manoeuvring at low speed. This affects cars made between 18 November 2014 and 28 January 2015, so your Vauxhall dealer will be able to check the build date of the steering rack against this to work out if it needs to be replaced.
Loss of stability
The connection between the steering knuckle and the lower control arm may not have been assembled correctly at the factory. If this connection breaks, then you will no longer have full control of the vehicle. This applies to models that were built between 30 June 2014 and 28 September 2015. A Vauxhall dealer should be able to inspect and then rectify any issues for you if your car is one of those affected by this recall.
Loss of steering control
Differing from an earlier recall for steering rack problems, there has also been a problem with the steering knuckles of Corsas produced between 23 June 2015 and 30 July 2015 that haven't been manufactured correctly. In time, these knuckles might fail and cause you to lose control of the direction of the vehicle. The manufacturing date stamp of the relevant parts can be checked by a dealer to confirm if your car needs further work or not.
Curtain airbags may not deploy correctly
The curtain airbags that are designed to protect your head in a side impact might not deploy correctly in a collision. This only applies to examples built between 25 August 2016 and 1 December 2016 and you should be able to find out if your car is affected by this when you speak to a Vauxhall dealer.
Handbrake may disengage
The handbrake may disengage on some vehicles produced between 26 August 2016 and 30 January 2017. Affected vehicles should have the assembly replaced as a precaution and a Vauxhall dealer will be able to tell you if this applies to your car, and if the work has already been carried out.
Bonnet may open at speed
The bonnet of some examples manufactured between 2 February and 29 March 2018 could open while the vehicle is in motion. Speak with your Vauxhall dealer if you think yours is affected since it'll need to be inspected by a technician and have the necessary repairs carried out.
A number of Corsa and Adam models built between 5 January 2018 and 9 April 2019 could produce higher NOx emissions than is permitted at higher speeds. The examples affected by this will need to have the engine management software updated in order to sort the problem.
Is a used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback reliable?
In our most recent reliability survey, the Corsa finished in 19th place out of 22 cars in the value and small cars category. Vauxhall as a brand scored poorly, finishing in 23rd place out of 30 manufacturers.
If you'd like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
What used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback will I get for my budget?
An early 2014 Vauxhall Corsa can be found from £3250, but most will have high mileages at this price, and, such is the proliferation of Corsas on the market, it's probably best to seek one with an average mileage for its year.
Better-equipped Corsas, such as SRi and Excite models, from 2015 with an average number of miles, should start at around £5000. As mentioned, the sheer number of used Corsas available means there isn't a significant premium for choosing a five-door Corsa over a three-door.
There is, however, a premium placed on any Corsa that has a turbocharger fitted. If you want to get into a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo or a 1.4-litre turbo, you'll need to spend more like £6000.
Look to spend more than £6000 for a 2017 model, and somewhere in the region of £8000 to £10,000 on a 2019 one. If you fancy a VXR, set aside at least £8500 for an early one or around £11,000 for a late 2017 example.
Check the value of a used Vauxhall Corsa with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Corsa hatchback?
The lowest fuel consumption is provided by the 1.3-litre, 94bhp Ecoflex diesel engine, at 83.1mpg combined (under the older, more generous NEDC tests), with CO2 emissions of 89g/km.
The turbocharged petrol cars are also very efficient; the 1.0 three-cylinder turbo does better than its non-turbo equivalents, and returns 61.4mpg. The 74 and 89bhp 1.4 and the 99bhp 1.4T are all rated at 54.3mpg. Expect a marginally worse figure from the 69bhp 1.2 at 53.3mpg, dropping to 48.7mpg for the 148bhp 1.4T.
If you need an automatic gearbox, you're forced to go for the 1.4 90 petrol and this increases fuel consumption to 42.8mpg, although this is still better than the turbocharged 1.6 found in the VXR: it only manages 37.7mpg.
As with fuel economy, the lowest CO2 emissions are to be found with the 95bhp 1.3 Ecoflex diesel, which emits 89g/km of CO2. The base 74bhp version, meanwhile, puts out 99g/km.
The 1.0-litre petrol engine emits 106g/km. Both non-turbo versions of the 1.4 and 99bhp turbocharged 1.4 emit 122g/km, and the 148bhp version increases this to 133g/km. The automatic 1.4 is worse still with 149/km, but it's still not as bad as the VXR, which emits 174g/km.
Road tax (VED)
Any Corsa registered after April 2017 will be charged the flat-rate VED road tax, currently £155 a year, while those registered before that, road tax will depend on the amount of CO2 it officially emits. You can find out more about road tax costs here.
You can pay a fixed-price fee for interim, main and major services, with costs depending on whether your Corsa has a petrol or diesel engine. Service costs are £160, £265 and £305 for petrol models and £170, £295 and £335 for diesel models respectively.
If you can't pay it all on the day, you can spread the cost by sorting out a monthly plan dependant upon your annual mileage and age of Corsa.
Which used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback should I buy?
The turbocharged 89bhp 1.0 and 99bhp 1.4-litre engines are the best to go for, but since there are so many examples of the normally aspirated 1.4 petrol, you might as well go for one of those, particularly if your budget is tight.
Base-spec Life, Active and Sting don't come with much equipment but, again, since there are loads of Corsas out there, it doesn't cost a lot extra to go for a mid-range SRi, Excite or Energy model with plenty of luxuries.
Our favourite Vauxhall Corsa: 1.4 SRi 5dr
What alternatives should I consider to a used Vauxhall Corsa hatchback?
The Ford Fiesta is perhaps the default choice in this class, but that’s because it is very good. Its infotainment is woeful and the number of interior buttons confusing, but the way it drives and the value it offers more than makes up for these shortcomings.
The Volkswagen Polo will be more expensive again, offering much the same things as the Fabia, but with more polish. It also might not be quite as reliable either.