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First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Corsa-e

The story:
Vauxhall’s first full electric model is a plug-in version of its biggest seller. With the Corsa-e coming to market just a few weeks behind its internal combustion engine siblings and at the same time as the Peugeot e-208 from sister brand Peugeot.
Key rival:Peugeot e-208
MPG:209 miles
On sale:Now

The sixth generation of Vauxhall Corsa is offering as enormous a breakthrough as anything since the nameplate first replaced the Nova in the UK back in the early 1990s, with an electric model joining the petrol and diesel alternatives. It’s also Vauxhall’s first fully electric model, with plenty more to follow.

Coming with a choice of the two trim levels – SE Nav or Elite Nav – the electric Corsa has a 50kW battery that offers a 209-mile official range figure, and a 100kW electric motor that generates the equivalent of 136hp.

Before the £3000 Government plug-in car grant, the Elite Nav model costs £33,255, which is a lot for a Corsa when compared with the £19,425 of the 100hp 1.2 petrol Elite Nav. Having said that, a 20% taxpayer will save £3381 in company car tax over the next three years, before you start on the fuel savings. The SE Nav spec is £2645 cheaper, but misses out on equipment including heated seats and steering wheel, Matrix headlights, keyless entry, front parking sensors and tinted rear windows, as well as upgrades to both the alloy wheels and the touchscreen (it has a 7.0-inch screen rather than the Elite’s larger 10-inch affair). Given that both cars cost more than £30,000, it’s a lot of extra equipment for the price, and makes it enticing to move up to the more expensive model.

There’s the predictable rapid surge of EV acceleration off the line, and it’s comfortably the fastest member of the new Corsa line-up at present. Sport, Normal and Eco settings allow the driver to toggle the car’s controls, including throttle sensitivity and top speed. The new Corsa’s neat handling characteristics aren’t upset by the presence of heavy batteries, either.

The cabin doesn’t feel quite as characterful or smart as that in the Corsa’s Peugeot 208 sister car, but it’s all sensibly laid out and will house four adults for shorter periods at least, while boot space of 309 litres isn’t impacted by the battery packaging.

paul barker

The verdict

A range of more than 200 miles makes for a stress-free EV experience, and the Corsa is good to drive, tidily styled and well-equipped, especially in higher-spec Elite form.