VAUXHALL CORSA Energy 1.0

Price: £15,455

THE CORSA has done well by Vauxhall. Consistently one of Britain’s best-selling models, thanks to its winning combination of compact exterior dimensions and clever use of cabin space, more than 80,000 find new UK owners every year.

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Such is its popularity that the UK market is the most important market for the Corsa by a significant margin (Germany – the second biggest market – buys around 50,000 units a year).

Part of the Corsa’s enduring appeal lies in the sheer choice of models. Young or old, male or female, there’s a Corsa for you.

The five-door models are aimed at sensibly family-types who value the convenience of two rear doors, whereas the three-door is aimed at a younger demographic prepared to trade practicality for good looks.

As the corsa enters its fifth generation, the key has been to retain all that’s good about the car while offering improved road manners, class-leading cabin quality and clever new technology.

ON THE ROAD:

Although it looks broadly similar to its predecessor all of the Corsa’s body panels are new, and provide greater definition between the ‘sporty’ look of the three-door and the ‘premium’ five-door models. For the first time on a Corsa the car’s striking profile has been overlaid with Brit Mark Adams’ sculptural design, including elements such as the ‘blade’ running across the lower door-sections first seen on the Insignia.

The bold face is clearly recognisable thanks to its ‘eagle eye’-shaped headlights, incorporating Vauxhall’s signature ‘wing’ LED daytime running lights and the trapezoidal grille, with a chrome bar supporting the Vauxhall Griffin.

The side view of the three- and five-door bodies is very different. In the three-door model, the upper window line drops to the rear which emphasises its fastback style at the expense of glass area in rear. In the five-door variant, the belt line extends upwards and the window line has a much less pronounced slope.

Although the Corsa was designed in Germany Vauxhall spent months pounding around the Millbrook test track in Bedfordshire honing the steering to UK drivers’ tastes. The power steering – which incorporates a City mode for low-speed manoeuvring and parking - is said to be more responsive to suit our undulating roads.

The new car has a 5mm lower centre of gravity, aiding stability and roll characteristics, while a reinforced, stiffer front sub-frame and new front suspension geometry, including new knuckle joints, give drivers more taut and precise handling.

A speed limiter function also allows the driver to select a maximum vehicle speed above 18mph at the touch of a steering wheel control button. This feature is particularly useful in town or city driving.

ON THE INSIDE:

Almost every element of the Corsa’s generous cabin is completely new, including a completely re-designed instrument panel and dashboard, and greatly improved levels of functionality, highlighted by Vauxhall’s sophisticated IntelliLink system which is operated via a 7.0-inch touchscreen.

A new driver control centre takes pride of place within the newly-designed instrument panel, which is themed around horizontal lines. There’s also a re-designed steering wheel that’s more ergonomic than before along with switches and chrono-styled instruments that are all finished in chrome.

The interior is practical too with the front doors featuring a compartment large enough for a 1.5-litre bottle as well as three cup holders in the centre console. There’s also a flexible cup holder located in front of the gear lever.

WHAT DO YOU GET:

Apparently the one thing Corsa owners want above all else is an electrically-heated front windscreen. At least that’s what Vauxhall’s customer clinics told the designers.

So a heated front screen has been top of the kit list since day one. Accordingly, the new Corsa is available with a ThermaTec heated ‘screen which makes light work of frosty mornings. As in the old car, the steering wheel and front seats can also be heated.

Continuing the comfort theme, a new climate controlled air conditioning system uses an on-board computer to monitor the interior and maintain a constant temperature regardless of outside conditions or changing seasons.

Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system is fully-compatible with the latest Android and Apple iOS-based smartphones. Siri voice control can even read your messages out. Up to five handsets can be simultaneously connected inside the car. via Bluetooth.

IntelliLink has a standard seven-inch colour touchscreen and its home page gives access to five major functions: make phone calls (Phone), listen to music (Audio), looks at photos and videos when it is safe to do so (Gallery), change settings such as the language of the system for instance (Settings) or use apps (Apps).

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT?

In the three-door version, Easy Entry front seats enable easy access to the rear seats. The 60/40 split folding rear bench seat turns the elegant interior into a spacious storage compartment. When the rear seat backrests are folded forward, the Corsa offers a load capacity of 1,120 litres.

RUNNING COSTS:

Although the improved CDTi is the fuel miser of the range, capable of 88.3 mpg, the highlight of the Corsa line-up is the new 1.0-litre ECOTEC direct injection turbo - the only production three-cylinder engine on the market with a sump-mounted counter-rotating balancer shaft, making it especially smooth and resonance-free and a class benchmark for reduced noise, vibration and harshness. With Start/Stop technology as standard, the 1.0-litre ECOTEC achieves 65.7mpg combined and CO2 emissions as low as 100g/km.

VERDICT:

It isn’t hard to see why more than 12 million Corsa have been sold over the past 30 years. Vauxhall’s ever-green supermini offers a beguiling mix of hard-nosed practicality and low running costs. To book a test drive call: JB Motors, in Malton, on 01653-695118

Spec:

Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cyl, petrol

Power: 115PS

Torque: 170 Nm

Top speed: 121 mph

0-62mph: 10.3 seconds

Fuel cons: 58.9 mpg (Official combined)