This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

In terms of Vauxhall Corsa performance there's a good choice of engines and all offer decent economy. All petrol models have a five-speed gearbox with the exception of the 1.6T which, along with the diesel engines, comes with a six-speed transmission. The gearboxes do feel a little notchy and slow to shift but the change is positive enough. An Easytronic (automated manual) system is available on the 1.2-litre models, while a conventional four-speed automatic can be specified on the 1.4-litre.

Vauxhall Corsa Petrol engines

The entry-level model is the 1.0-litre petrol but with just 60bhp the three-cylinder unit struggles for pace and feels sluggish - the 80bhp 1.2-litre is a better bet if you intend to cover more than town miles. There's also a 1.4-litre unit but it only has 10bhp more than the 1.2-litre and isn't much quicker - it also needs to be revved hard to achieve decent momentum and will quickly lose interest when faced with hills. For more sporty performance there's a 1.6-litre turbo-powered SRi model which was introduced in mid-2007 - it uses a less powerful version of the engine found in the VXR with 150bhp instead of 192bhp. However, it still has more than enough go to be fun and with a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds doesn't hang about.

Vauxhall’s ‘Black Edition’ Corsa (new for 2012) adds a new engine to the range, a 1.4 Turbo Stop/start petrol unit which produces 118bhp and maximum torque of 175Nm starting at 1,750rpm. This engine has a top speed of 121mph and hits 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds.

Vauxhall Corsa Diesel engines

The diesels are the real stars of the line-up though. The most powerful choice is the 1.7 CDTi (this engine was carried over from the previous model) and with 125bhp and plenty of pulling power it's ideal for town and motorway driving. It's a surprisingly relaxed cruiser too, sitting at low revs at 70mph. But our pick of the engine range is the newer 1.3 CDTi available with 75bhp or 90bhp. It's much smoother and more refined than its larger counterpart and although it lacks some of the mid-range punch it's incredibly economical - the less powerful version averaging 63mpg.

Fuel efficient technology

There's also an ecoFLEX version that uses the 75bhp 1.3 CDTi and (in Life, Expression and Club models) emits 104g/km of CO2, making it cheap to tax, while economy is 71mpg. In early 2010 this was engine was further improved thanks to the introduction of stop/start technology with emissions of 98g/km meaning it's free to tax, while fuel economy is 76mpg. However, at the same time, power actually increased to 95bhp, giving it a respectable 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds.

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The 2011 version on of 1.3 CDTi (95bhp) ecoFLEX has improved further to offer a claimed 80mpg and emissions of 94g/km so is best for low running costs.

This car is safe and composed, it corners well with bags of grip and inspires plenty of confidence in the driver. The SXi and SRi models have stiffer suspension springs and a lower ride height - as a result they feel slightly more focussed on twisting roads, but there's little improvement over the already impressive set-up and body control is just as good. Unfortunately the steering is a big let down - turn into a bend and you'll soon discover that it's artificially light and lacks feel, while mid-corner bumps send vibrations through the column. Consequently it's not a very involving car to drive and lacks the nimble nature of alternatives like the Renault Clio.

On the plus side, around it's more natural town environment the Corsa is simple to drive and straightforward to manoeuvre into tight spaces. Electronic stability control, which can help avoid accidents by reducing the risk of skidding, is an option on lesser models and standard on the SRi.