There’s a fair chance you may have driven your poor driving instructor to the edge of a nervous breakdown in a Vauxhall Corsa. Along with its sales chart rival the Ford Fiesta, the Corsa is a hugely familiar sight on UK roads. Vauxhall introduced an all-new five-door-only model in 2020, but the previous generation still has lots to recommend it.
The new Vauxhall Corsa introduced in 2020 is super smart looking – it has thrown out the trainers in favour of some fancy leather shoes. While the previous generation, which arrived in 2014, may not look quite as modern, it’s still an attractive car in both three- and five-door guises. The large radiator grille and swoopy headlights give the Corsa plenty of character at the front, and the side profile of the three-door looks particularly sporting with its sweptback rear lines.
There's a vast range of trim levels to choose from, with the ultra-sporty SRi versions sitting at the top of the pinnacle. Mid-level 'Energy' specification cars feature smart-looking 16-inch alloy wheels, while rarer 'Limited Edition' versions come with larger 17-inch black alloy wheels and body-coloured spoilers.
The large radiator grille and swoopy headlights give the Corsa plenty of character at the front.
What’s it like to drive?
If you need a supermini that can soak up urban life with ease, handle country roads and tackle the occasional long motorway haul, the Vauxhall Corsa hits the spot. It doesn’t quite have the sporting verve of the Ford Fiesta behind the wheel, but will still put a smile on your face. It provides a comfortable ride, too, although the suspension feels firmer on the more sporting variants.
When it comes to negotiating narrow streets or having the nerve to go for that really tight parking spot in front of a crowd of onlookers (we’ve all been there!), the Corsa has an ace up its sleeve with its City steering mode. At speeds below 30mph, the steering feels nice and light, so you'll find it ever so easy to manoeuvre.
The Corsa has an ace up its sleeve with its City steering mode
The five-door model provides excellent levels of leg and headroom in the back. If you are a tall driver, though, you may find yourself wishing the driver’s seat went back just a little further.
Thanks to the wide-opening rear doors of the five-door model, the Corsa is one of the better superminis for lifting little ones in and out of child seats. Should those little feet in the back start kicking and little hands start throwing toys around, relax - the solidly-built Corsa will soak up temper tantrums with ease. It's a nicely designed cabin with good quality, soft-touch plastics used for the most part on all upper sections.
If you want to keep your cool when it's hot in the city, opt for trim levels such as Energy, Limited Edition, Design and SE and the even more sporting variants, where air-con is provided as standard. Design models and above feature Vauxhall’s IntelliLink 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can plug your smartphone in to keep in touch with the digital world.
The Corsa's boot offers a reasonable amount of space – enough to carry a couple of suitcases – though the boot aperture is relatively narrow, and the load lip is quite tall.
Not every model features a split-folding rear seat. Vauxhall offered an optional moveable boot floor, which, when mounted high up, provides a flat base to solve the high-load lip issue and lets you store items underneath. Despite the relatively small glovebox, you'll find lots of space to store items throughout the cabin, with generous size door bins and four cup holders to carry your morning cappuccino to the office safely for you.
Running costs and reliability
When Vauxhall launched this generation of the Corsa in 2014, it was available with petrol and diesel engines. The diesel engines were eventually phased out in favour of an all-petrol lineup in 2018. If you’re going to be driving big miles, it is worth seeking out the 95hp 1.3-litre CDTi diesel, with its official claimed fuel figure of more than 80mpg. For more mixed driving, the 90hp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers strong performance with an official claimed economy figure of just over 50mpg.
Even when it was launched in 2014, the Corsa was far from a completely new car. Mechanically, it shared many of its components from the previous generation, building a solid basis for reliability.
What we love
"It still looks the part, even though there’s a new model on the roads now. It’s comfortable, spacious and well-equipped. The three-door versions make a fine first car, and if you opt for the five-door, there’s no need to break into a cold sweat if that first scan shows its twins."
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Town and country drivers
Some people will tell you that Corsa is not as much fun to drive as the Fiesta-don’t let that put you off. It will still put a smile on your face and deliver a safe and comfortable drive. There's a vast choice of trim levels and engines to choose from, so you will be able to find a model that's just perfect for you.
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