- All-new fifth-generation Corsa revealed
- We've driven first drive in a prototype
- Petrol, diesel and electric power on offer
Vauxhall’s all-new Corsa hatchback is coming in 2020 and the the new sixth-generation supermini has been revealed, with petrol and diesel versions confirmed alongside the fully-electric Corsa-e. We've already had an early opportunity to drive prototype versions of the new car ahead of its launch, courtesy of Vauxhall’s sister brand Opel in Germany.
The development cars aren’t quite finished yet, with engineers claiming most of the handling and powertrain tuning is around 80% complete, hence the unsual disguise compared with the full production Corsa in the other shots.
As has quickly become commonplace across the industry, the three-door Corsa is no more, the Mk5 only being available with a practical five-door body, albeit of similar dimensions to the outgoing model. An even more intelligent use of steel types and construction methods ensures that model-for-model it's up to 108kg lighter than its predecessor, which should pay dividends for fuel efficiency when the figures are confirmed.
What do we know about the electric Vauxhall Corsa-e?
The new electric version of the supermini was revealed ahead of the combustion-engined models, not that it differs significantly from a visual perspective.
Powered by a 50kWh battery and a 136hp electric motor, Vauxhall is claiming a 205-mile WLTP-approved range for the Corsa-e. Vauxhall also suggests that around 80% of the battery can be charged in half an hour via a rapid charger, and that the range can be boosted by 40% in Eco mode. It's no slouch, either - Vauxhall's indicating an 8.1-second 0-62mph acceleration time.
Inside, Vauxhall has told us that everything you see and touch is of their design (not that of PSA origin), save for the trigger shifter on the auto gearbox and the Groupe-derived infotainment system. Due to the new platform underneath, the electric powertrain does not intrude on passenger or luggage space, so there's 309 litres of boot space (up from 285) - the same for the combustion-engined cars.
Vauxhall Corsa: what we know so far
Under Groupe PSA, which also owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, Vauxhall has taken advantage of the group’s new chassis platform, engines and transmissions for its new Mk5 Corsa hatchback. That means it’s related in many ways to the upcoming Peugeot 208 and DS 3 Crossback.
Vauxhall is currently in the stages of tweaking the platform to work best for the new Corsa, getting the media involved in the process, hence why we’ve been for a spin.
New Vauxhall Corsa: engine specs
The new Corsa’s powertrain options are exactly the same as that of the upcoming Peugeot 208, which makes sense given that they use the same platform underneath. There will be three 1.2-litre petrol engines and a 1.5-litre diesel making up the range, with the former coming in 75, 100 and 130hp states of tune. The diesel, meanwhile, has 100hp. Vauxhall points out that the 130hp petrol won’t be available to UK buyers at launch, but it could join later on if there is demand for it.
All barring the entry-level 75hp model feature a new six-speed manual gearbox, with the higher-powered petrol engine options also benefitting from the option of an eight-speed automatic.
Given the Corsa is in the prototype stages of its development, there are no official fuel economy figures or emissions ratings. Still, Opel’s Global Lead Development Engineer, Thomas Wanke, pointed out that every single version of the Corsa will emit less CO2 than the outgoing Corsa. We’ll have to see about that.
New Vauxhall Corsa: tech highlights
The eight-speed automatic has a drive mode select rocker switch including a manual mode, allowing you to take advantage of the standard steering wheel-mounted paddles. Eco mode has a coasting function, while Sport sharpens up the throttle response and gear holding.
This generation of Corsa will also introduce matrix LED headlights, under Vauxhall’s IntelliLux brand name - at this stage it's not yet clear if they will be standard-fit items on high-spec Corsas or optional across the range.
New Vauxhall Corsa: first driving impressions
The red cars were 100hp petrol manual versions, while the yellows were 130hp petrol automatic versions. During the event, we had to remain in a convoy, rotating between the new prototypes and as close a comparison as Opel had from the previous generation. Given we’re not (yet) going to benefit from the most powerful petrol, our focus here will be on the red car’s engine.
Which makes sense, as you probably won’t want much more power than that provided by the 100hp petrol. Our experience, particularly compared with the old car, was that it was powerful enough and very quiet in urban areas and didn’t get much louder when extending it out of town. Like any small turbocharged petrol, it helps to keep the revs toward the middle to make best use of the available power, but the engine never gave us the impression it was over-extending itself.
Like other PSA products currently on sale, the steering is exceedingly light but much more accurate to your inputs than the previous-generation car, which will be handy for parking and tight urban streets. The steering remained dainty at speed, however, so faster out-of-town roads and motorways made the car feel a little twitchy. We’d argue that a little extra steering weight, or a more reactive speed-dependent power steering system will settle the car and provide a little extra driver involvement.
The gearshift and clutch pedal are also incredibly light. The former is smooth and doesn’t have quite a long a throw as the Citroen C3 (which is a good thing) but we’d like a little more definition from the gear selection. The clutch, meanwhile felt too light to glean any information about the clutch’s bite point.
Oddly, the yellow cars had the best ride, with Opel’s engineers complicating matters between the cars by altering suspension settings between them. There were incredibly rough patches of roads on some of the test routes, which were completely soaked up by the setup in those cars, without sacrificing much in the way of handling balance. The yellow cars also had the best soundproofing, too. If you’re reading this Opel and Vauxhall, stick with this setup please.
All in all, the next-generation Corsa should be a big improvement if Vauxhall makes those tweaks. The car itself is already in a good place; with refinement improvements being the biggest leap. It won’t be as fun as a Ford Fiesta, but we think it’ll be up there with some of the best all-rounders in the supermini class.
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