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First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Corsa

The story: Vauxhall’s new Corsa is a big one for the brand – the first generation of its big-selling supermini since PSA took ownership, and the one that later this spring also introduces electric vehicles to the Vauxhall line-up.
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
Efficiency:48.7 mpg
On sale:Now

The Corsa is far and away Vauxhall’s biggest-selling car, so a new one is always going to be a big deal, and even more so when it’s also going to introduce electric vehicles to the Vauxhall line-up.

But that’s a few weeks away yet, with two petrols and a diesel version coming along first. Yes, Vauxhall is continuing with a diesel Corsa, despite it being very much a minority fuel in the supermini sector, so the 102hp 1.5 forms part of the engine line-up.

But the more popular – and better – units will be the pair of 1.2-litre petrols, a 75hp non-turbo and a 100hp turbocharged version, the latter of the two being an absolute peach. It’s just £800 and 3g/km more than the lesser unit, making it highly recommendable. Especially as it also gets a sixth gear over the lower-powered car’s five. The 100hp petrol also has the option of an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which adds £1730 and 3g/km, although keeps the car in the same BiK emissions banding and under 100g/km on the current emissions standards. However, that will rise with the April shift to WLTP-driven CO2 figures.

First Drive-January 2020-Vauxhall Corsa-Image 7Vauxhall has made a big deal about simplifying its offering from the myriad choices the previous Corsa had, something also historically true across Vauxhall’s range (see panel), and there are now just the SE, SRi, Elite and, driven here, Ultimate trim levels, although there are Nav and Premium add-ons to all bar the top one, respectively bringing sat-nav, obviously, and a package including heated front seats and steering wheel and auto headlights. The auto-only Ultimate Nav trim, one of two available on Vauxhall’s launch event, is something of a luxury, as the ridiculously high price tag of almost £26,000 suggests; the range kicks off from a far more reasonable £15,550. The Ultimate gets lovely 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, leather massage seats, LED Matrix headlights, keyless entry and adaptive cruise control as well as various other bits and pieces, but is a huge extravagance. Lower models are pretty well-kitted, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all cars with no subscription fee, and we’ll be running a six-page Big Test of the SRi model in a forthcoming issue.

As mentioned, the 100hp turbo engine is a good one, while the Corsa has a nice gearchange and steering that’s a touch on the light side, where maybe a little more weight would better match the agile nature of the chassis, which is helped by up to 108kg having been shaved off the weight.

The car is slightly longer but lower, giving it a sportier stance than its predecessor, the boot is 24 litres up, although still smaller than most rivals, and rear entry and rear space aren’t the most welcoming in the class.

Paul barker

The verdict

The Corsa is a competitive, stylish, decent-handling, efficient and well-kitted supermini.