Much improved but still feeling its age
- Packed with equipment
- More engaging to drive
- Sweet 1.0-litre engines
- Fine VXR performance
- Heavy facelift of previous Corsa
- Falling behind the opposition
- Non-turbo engines weaker
- Firm sports suspension
One of the best-selling small cars in Britain, the Vauxhall Corsa was thoroughly overhauled at the end of 2014 so that it’s in a better position to take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta the Renault Clio and the Volkswagen Polo.
Yes, you read that right – this is a significant makeover of the previous Corsa and not an all-new model. It’s more than just a facelift though, as all body panels barring the roof are new, and while the underpinnings remain based on the previous generation’s, they’ve been considerably revised.
Raft of upgrades
The biggest visual changes for this generation Corsa are found at the front where the nose is longer and more expressive, with distinctive new headlights and a lower, wider grille. It’s no accident that it shares a very close resemblance to the Vauxhall Adam, the Corsa’s more fashion-focused sibling.
Climb inside and the Adam theme continues with a much improved dashboard featuring soft-touch plastics for the upper moulding, more technology (almost every version benefits from the IntelliLink multimedia package), but essentially the same amount of space as before as the fundamental cabin dimensions are carried over.
It’s the side profile where this and the previous Corsa iterations look most similar, as the windows continue into this generation. The more coupe-like glass outline of the three-door is slightly extended by a glossy applique just behind the rearmost side window.
New look for the five-door Corsa
The five-door’s make-over is more clever, with metalwork that curves upwards on the outside of the rear door to frame the glass differently. Inside it’s less convincing with black foil stuck to the glass instead of the interior door panel mirroring the exterior.
At the back the rear ends of both three- and five-door Corsas are brought into line with identical treatment featuring horizontal tail lights and a large Vauxhall badge that stands proud of the tailgate doubling as a release handle for the hatch.
It drives significantly better than before too, riding more pliantly on Comfort suspension models but at times with too much firmness on those with the Sports set-up.
Refreshed petrol engines
Under the reprofiled front of the latest Corsa is a combination of improved and all-new engines, the focus being efficiency rather than high performance – none of the range completes the 0-62mph acceleration in less than 10 seconds, save for the Red and Black Editions and the flagship Corsa VXR introduced in spring 2015.
VXR aside, the headline-grabbing engine is the new three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, in 90hp and 115hp outputs. We were particularly impressed by its refinement and balance between speed and efficiency.
It’s also quieter than Ford’s similarly-sized Ecoboost engine. Depending on wheel size, the lower-powered version of the two units boasts claims up to 65.7mpg and 100g/km of CO2.
Upgraded diesels and powerful VXR
It’s not the most efficient Corsa though; that honour still belongs to the 1.3-litre CDTi diesels in 75hp and 95hp forms, where Vauxhall claims as high as 88.3mpg, resulting in CO2 emissions of 85g/km.
There’s plenty of performance on tap with the Corsa VXR, thanks to its 206hp 1.6-litre turbo engine: top speed is 143mph, while it will scorch from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.
Depending on trim, other engines include a 70hp 1.2-litre petrol, which was dropped in 2016, and three versions of the 1.4-litre delivering 75hp, 90hp, 100hp and 150hp.
That 90hp version is also available with options of a conventional automatic and an improved version of the robotised manual that changes gears automatically, called Easytronic. All other Corsas have five- or six-speed manual gearboxes.
Broad range and packed with equipment
Vauxhall’s attempted to simplify the outgoing Corsa’s range but it’s still ended up with 11 trim levels by the middle of 2016. All of them are well-equipped compared with rivals – an electrically heated windscreen and cruise control are standard on all versions.
Every Corsa barring the entry-level Sting and Sting R has LED day-running lights, in Vauxhall’s signature ‘wing’ formation. Best of all, model for model it’s less expensive than its predecessor.
The Parkers Verdict
It's easy to overlook the Vauxhall Corsa – especially compared with the younger Ford Fiesta, SEAT Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo – but it's still a superb choice in the small hatchback market. It's good to drive, finely honed, and is available in a wide range of trims and specs to suit most needs.
The top-of-the-line VXR model is an acquired taste, and hard to rationally justify, but the rest of the range is competent and still very much worth recommendation. Stick with one the small petrol engines, and you can't go far wrong.
Is this host of well-judged revisions going to be enough to bring it close to the leaders of the small car pack? Read Parkers full new Vauxhall Corsa review to find out.
What owners say about this car
Brilliant car, had lots of fun driving it, boot easily big enough for my needs, however the 1.2 is just... Read owner review
This is the first Vauxhall I have owned in 56 years of driving and I am pleasantly surprised as to... Read owner review
Best Corsa design so far with nice headlight cluster. Roomy boot..Heated front screen. Auto headlights and wipers. Good entertainment system,... Read owner review