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
- 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, but the five-door’s make-over is cleverer, 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 and diesel 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, and it’s 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.
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 and 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.
Vauxhall Corsa hatchback model history
- October 2014 – Heavily revised Corsa range launched in three- and five-door hatchback forms, initially in Sting, Sting R, Life, Excite, Limited Edition, Design, SRi, SRi VX-Line and SE trims. The launch range of engines comprises of 1.2i 70hp, 1.4i 90hp, 1.0i Turbo 90hp and 115hp, and 1.4i Turbo 100hp petrols, with diesels restricted to 1.3CDTi 75hp and 95hp versions.
- April 2015 – High performance VXR model on sale, with first deliveries in May. As before, only available in three-door form, with power from the 1.6-litre turbo quoted at 205hp.
- September 2015 – Powered by an uprated 150hp version of the 1.4i Turbo petrol motor, the Black Edition and Red Edition bridge the gap to the powerful VXR model. Standard equipment includes 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and black and red paint schemes, complete with a sporty bodykit.
- November 2015 – All versions barring the Sting and Sting R are fitted with an upgraded IntelliLink R4.0 multimedia system, complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Vauxhall’s OnStar virtual concierge service, together with the in-car wifi hotspot, is now standard on SE, Limited Edition, Black Edition, Red Edition and VXR trims. Life trim level discontinued.
- January 2016 – Entry-level 1.4i 75hp engine replaces the 1.2i 70hp.
- May 2016 – New flagship Elite trim level sits above SE and features climate control, bi-xenon headlamps and rear privacy glass.
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.
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