A huge amount of research, time, money and energy had gone into creating the next edition of one of the UK’s best-loved small cars. But we never got to see it.
Instead, when the takeover was completed, PSA instructed Vauxhall to scrap their new Corsa and start all over again, using the Peugeot 208 and Citroen DS3 Crossback as a foundation from which to build.
And in January 2020, we finally received the fifth instalment of the Vauxhall Corsa. But after a complete rethink and redesign, does it still have what it takes to be a big hit?
Let’s find out.
It’s not the sort of look you’d expect from a Corsa – a bit grown-up – but when more luxurious brands such as Audi and Volkswagen are also targeting the small-car market, that’s not always a bad thing.
The Corsa’s five engine choices come from France, with three petrols, a diesel and an all-electric version, all of which can also be found in the 208.
But despite sharing its underpinnings with a “rival”, the Corsa’s suspension and steering are very much its own, providing a unique feel which translates to light steering and, for the most part, a comfortable ride.
Overall, the Corsa hasn’t lost any of its charm. Its interior is simple and clean but packed full of tech and driver aids you probably wouldn’t expect of a car in its class.
It’s not as dynamic behind the wheel as its predecessor, nor is its styling as iconic, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better overall small car for the money.
What’s great about this car
- Loads of great tech
- Lots of space
What’s not great about this car
- Interior styling is a bit dull
- Ride can be a bit hard on bigger wheels
- Doesn’t look like a Corsa
Design and styling
As we’ve already touched on, the Vauxhall Corsa looks a lot more grown-up than it used to. For many years, the British-built small car was synonymous with a narrow sloped front end which gave it a sporty and aggressive feel.
It’s not to say the Corsa is boring, however. There are still styling elements of the car which help maintain its playful side, such as modern alloy wheel designs and a dual-coloured finish. But it’s not the arching silhouette it once was.
Overall, though, the Vauxhall Corsa is a good-looking car. There are features that give a gentle nod to its predecessors, such as a chrome grille, sloped roof and sharp LED headlights, but it’s mostly a completely fresh redress that has evolved in line with the world and market around it.
MPG, running costs and environment
The Vauxhall Corsa has always been a favourite with drivers thanks to its low running costs. And the latest offering is no different.
The entry-level 1.2-litre 74bhp petrol option still offers more than 50mpg, with the diesel taking that to over 70mpg.
And for super-efficient motoring, you can also get the Corsa in all-electric, using the same batteries and motor found in the Peugeot 208.
To run, as you might expect from its fuel efficiency, the Corsa is one of the cheapest. Low insurance premiums have helped it become a regular feature on British roads, with the fifth generation continuing that trend ranging from group 10 in the SE Nav Premium 1.2 75PS to group 22 in the 1.2 Turbo SRi Premium Auto 130 PS.
Engine, drive and performance
As we’ve already mentioned, there are five engines available with the Vauxhall Corsa – three petrols, a diesel and one electric.
For the best all-round offering, we’d recommend the 1.2-litre 100PS turbo. It’s nippy off the line, covering 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, while still giving good fuel economy and being cheap to insure.
Also, with low fuel emissions of 118g/km, it’s well suited to eco-aware and company car drivers.
However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, the all-electric version is another very strong choice. With an equivalent 134bhp powertrain, it’s quicker than the petrol variant, can cover an impressive 211 miles on a single charge and provides sensible benefit-in-kind rates.
Handling – The Corsa has always been good fun behind the wheel. And although the latest incarnation will still bring a smile to your face, it seems to have lost a slight edge on windy country roads.
It’s not as responsive as previous models, but around town, which is where most of the Corsa’s driving will be done, the steering is light and precise.
Suspension – The Vauxhall Corsa rides a little firmer than some of its competitors, namely the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza. And the comfort isn’t improved when you choose the chunkier, 17-inch alloy wheels.
But it’s still a smooth enough drive to cope with the daily commute or a motorway jaunt.
The interior of the Corsa is fairly in keeping with the rest of the Vauxhall range. A simplistic yet modern finish is well equipped and features very few cheap elements and scratchy plastics.
As with most Vauxhalls nowadays, there’s plenty of useful tech and driver aids on show, even in the entry-level specs.
As standard, you can expect a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – turning the central display into a sat-nav through Google or Apple Maps.
There’s also cruise control, lane departure warning and speed sign recognition; tech you probably wouldn’t expect to find in the “basic” model of a small car.
As you climb the specs and spend a bit more, extra features are added, including heated front seats and steering wheel, climate control, keyless entry, and a panoramic rear-view camera.
In the top-spec Ultimate Nav, you’ll find a larger, 10-inch screen with built-in sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging – which is an option that can be added to any model – and a massaging driver’s seat, for that extra sense of luxury on those longer journeys.
Practicality and boot space
One of the key selling points for the Vauxhall Corsa has always been its practicality. It may look small on the outside, and it’s great for around-town driving, but there’s still plenty of space inside for a comfortable journey.
If you have very tall passengers, they may struggle with the back seats slightly, due to the Corsa’s sloping roof. However, for a family of five, there’s more than enough room.
Boot space has also been a big hit with the Corsa over the years. And the latest model now comes with a bigger, 309-litre loading bay, which is larger than the Citroen C3 and the Renault Clio – although the VW Polo does offer more space.
However, if you need a bigger area for larger or bulkier items, the seats fold down easily through a 60/40 split, giving you more than 1,100 litres of room.
Reliability and safety
Vauxhall, in general, is known for its reliability. It came fourth in the Telegraph’s Top 20 Most Reliable Cars in Britain survey.
And if you ever need to fix something, the Corsa comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty from new, which although isn’t as impressive as Kia’s seven-year or Toyota’s five-year warranties, it’s still a nice safety net to have.
You can also add a comprehensive warranty onto any Approved Used model you finance or buy from as little as £249.
There are nine model variants of the Vauxhall Corsa, ranging from the petrol and diesel entry-level SE to top-of-the-range Ultimate Nav.
Although the SE is the entry-level Corsa, it’s still packed full of features and you have a wide choice of engines.
Sharing a lot of the same features as the SE, the Premium adds heated front seats and steering wheel, as well as other handy driving aids.
SE Nav Premium
Available in all-electric only, the SE Nav Premium is the entry-level spec if you’re looking for battery-powered motoring. It still comes with everything the SE does, as well as the added extra of sat-nav.
The SRi is the sportier-styled Vauxhall Corsa with a black roof, sports body styling, sports seats and chunkier, 17-inch bi-coloured alloys.
Adding to the sporty nature of the SRi, the Premium comes with heated elements, an electronic parking brake, climate control and keyless entry.
SRi Nav Premium
The SRi Nav Premium is electric only. Like the internal combustion models, it’s a sportier-styled Corsa but with the added extras of tinted rear windows and LED taillights.
The Elite, as you may have guessed by the name, is a classier, more refined version of the Vauxhall Corsa, featuring rear tinted windows and a panoramic rear-parking camera.
Elite Nav Premium
Based on the Elite, the Nav Premium adds sat-nav, a bigger 10-inch touchscreen and 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels. This model is also available with an all-electric engine.
The Ultimate Nav is the top-of-the-range petrol and diesel model. As well as everything in the Elite, the Ultimate Nav has adaptive cruise control, a wireless phone charger and a driver’s seat massage function.
Cost and deals
The Vauxhall Corsa has always been an affordable vehicle. And the latest version is no different.
You can pick up a brand-new Vauxhall Corsa for less than £200 a month with no deposit at Hippo Leasing, and even less if you’re looking at the Approved Used market.
To run, the Corsa is up there with the best in terms of helping keep costs down, with low insurance premiums and good fuel economy.