27 Oct 2014

2015 Vauxhall Corsa Review

Matt Hubbard reviews the new Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SRi VX-Line

2015 Vauxhall Corsa
2015 Vauxhall Corsa

The Corsa is hugely important to Vauxhall. The company shifted 84,000 Corsas in 2014 and 70,000 so far in the first three quarters of 2015. One third of all Vauxhalls sold are Corsas and it generates the most revenue and profit for the company.

So the new one is a big deal. It had better be good.

It's not a brand new car, Vauxhall describes it as an evolution but that's not being very fair on it. Every body panel is new, the engines and gearboxes are new, in fact everything fore of the A-pillar is new, the interior is new, the steering is new and the chassis is new. Oh, and the centre of gravity is 5mm lower than in the old Corsa.

The Corsa starts at £8,995 and ends at £15,380 but most of the range is around the £12k mark. Prices are £3k lower than the old Corsa, which makes it sensibly priced (finally) and much cheaper than the Fiesta.

Does this mean Vauxhall is not confident in the new Corsa? Not at all, Vauxhall thinks it has a great little car and wants to micturate on Ford's rug.

It comes with a host of standard kit and some reasonably priced options. Of interest to people who want an everyday run-around is the heated windscreen and winter pack which comes with heated seats and steering wheel.  LED DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) are standard on all but the base model. Bi-Xenon lights are a £395 option.

DAB and Bluetooth are standard but satnav is not, you have to buy a £50 app called BringGo which streams it to the info screen. I do not like this - either fit a satnav or not.  Rain sensitive wipers, auto lights and cruise control are fitted as standard on all but the base model.
2015 Vauxhall Corsa
2015 Vauxhall Corsa

Lots of trim levels are available - Life, Sting and Sting R, Design, SRi, Excite, SE, SRi VX Line and Limited Edition - and lots of engines, all new and economical and clean. The newest is the 3-cylinder 1.0 EcoTec in a variety of power outputs.

The green car in the photos is a 1.4T SRi VX-Line. It has a new petrol engine with 98bhp and 148b ft of torque. The gearbox is a new 6-speed manual and the colour is Flaming Green. It costs £14,230 and is right at the top of the Corsa range.

So, does Vauxhall have any right to be confident in the new Corsa? Is it any good? Is it as good as the Fiesta?

Damn right. It's a superb little car.

Let's start with the looks. OK, not everyone likes them. Despite all the panels being new it's visually similar to the outgoing car but with a new front end - similar in appearance to the Adam's.  The C-pillar, by the way, is quite different in the 3-door (sharp) than it is in the 5-door (rounded).

The interior is well designed with buttons and dials well laid out and perfectly placed so you'll find them in the dark. The info screen is functional and easy to use (although I had to look in the manual to find out how to adjust the bass and treble on the stereo) but its buttons are annoyingly vague (press lightly, has it actually registered? Press it hard, I think it has?).

The driving position is great for a small hatchback - deepish footwell, lots of adjustability in the chunky steering wheel, leather clad gear knob close to hand. The twin A-pillar impedes visibility though.
2015 Vauxhall Corsa
2015 Vauxhall Corsa

The seats are comfortable and provide plenty of support but the seat squab (the bit that goes under your thighs) is too short and doesn't provide quite enough support.  The rear seats are fairly spacious, a six footer will fit in but their knees will brush against the back of the front seats.

Fire it up and the 1.4 4-pot is quiet. The gearbox is better than in any Vauxhall I've driven before (better than the 6-speed in the Cascada and Astra VXR) and snicks into gear without notchy encumbrance.  The ratios are sensibly spaced for the roads rather than track, 2nd gear runs out of puff at around 60mph.

The engine produces most of its torque at low and medium revs and feels like it doesn't really want to go past 5,000rpm but nevertheless has plenty of grunt. The car feels quicker than the stats suggest.

On the road is where the Corsa really stands out. The chassis is incredibly good. The Corsa was tuned on UK roads, the theory being if it'd work on our crappy roads it'd work anywhere. The SRi VX-Line had the sports chassis but was not firm at all, in fact it would glide over poorly paved roads in the manner of a bigger, more expensive car.

But turn it into a corner and the Corsa doesn't roll, instead the steering is sharp and precise with good feedback. It's quite the hoot, in fact it's as good as anything else in its class.
2015 Vauxhall Corsa
2015 Vauxhall Corsa

The Corsa weighs about 1,100kg (the test cars were pre-production models so Vauxhall doesn't have a precise figure yet) and with its sharp steering, fantastic ride and decent gearbox and engine it will be enjoyed by anyone seeking some serious thrills. Yes, you heard that right. It's jolly fine to drive.

Turn onto a motorway and it's also a good cruiser. The controls have a light touch (steering weight is adjustable), interior noise is more than tolerable and the sound system is loud and clear.

Over recent years the Vauxhall Corsa has been hiding in the shadows of the competition, particularly arch rival Ford's brilliant Fiesta. This new iteration has proved itself a worthy competitor, and with pricing that seriously undercuts the Fiesta it deserves to do well.

After the 1.4T I drove a 1.0T EcoTec. The new 3-cylinder feels like a bigger engine. It has a balancer shaft which makes it quiet and smooth, it's got plenty of grunt (113bhp and 170Nm/125lb ft) and is just as quick as the 1.4T. It returns 57.6mpg and produces 115g/km of CO2. Up a hill it sounds like it's struggling but it still pulls pretty hard for a little 3-pot. It's a cracking engine.


Price - £14,230
Engine - 1.4 litre, inline-4, turbocharged, petrol
Transmission - 6-speed manual
0-60mph - 11 seconds
Top Speed - 115mph
Power - 98bhp
Torque - 200Nm/148lb ft
Economy - 53.3mpg
CO2 - 123g/km
Kerb weight - approx 1,100kg
2015 Vauxhall Corsa
2015 Vauxhall Corsa

2015 Vauxhall Corsa

2015 Vauxhall Corsa
The 2015 Vauxhall Corsa's 1.0 EcoTec engine

By Matt Hubbard