This perhaps puts me in a better position than anyone here to evaluate the recently- revised version of the car and the new technology contained within.
As with many revisions to new models in recent years, most of the changes have taken place under the skin and it is difficult at first glance to tell the latest Corsa apart from the pre-October 2003 one – there are just a few cosmetic changes.
However, new to the range is a Euro-IV compliant diesel engine and two new petrol engines using 'twinport' technology. As the appeal of diesel – even Euro IV-compliant diesel – is limited in the supermini sector, we checked out the fuel-saving credentials of twinport on the Corsa 1.4 SRi.
First, though, Vauxhall has certainly distinguished the SRi model from the rest of the Corsa range.
On the outside, 16-inch alloy wheels set the SRi apart, along with lowered suspension, a rear spoiler, 'sport' door mirrors with two mounting points, compared to most cars' solid single fixture, and dark rear light clusters.
Inside, there are aluminium pedals and a metallic finish to the centre console.
You would expect ABS as standard, which it is, but air-conditioning is added here too. However, our test car had automatic climate control plus a four-CD-changer and turn-by-turn satellite navigation, showing that in a climate where downsizing is no longer a taboo subject, big-car features can make small cars more acceptable.
The advantage of twinport on the Corsa 1.4 SRi could be enough to justify its £650 price hike over the old model.
Fuel savings are achieved through a high rate of exhaust gas recirculation, meaning that under partial load the engine recycles the already-burnt exhaust gas, making up 25% of its fuel/air mixture. It results in a fuel saving of 13% on the combined cycle, compared with the conventional 1.4-litre engine.
With 90bhp on offer, the Corsa certainly feels lively once the revs climb high enough and a 0-60mph time of 10.5 seconds is respectable in this class.
The downside is the engine noise becoming significantly more intrusive above 4,000rpm and under full throttle you lose the economic advantage of twinport.
The sprightly performance is hindered to some extent by the steering and brakes. The electric power steering set-up also offers fuel savings compared with a conventional hydraulic power steering system and while it varies in weight according to speed, it never offers quite enough feedback to exploit the performance.
The brakes, meanwhile, also take too long to react and the pedal needs a firm push to bring down the car's speed.
This is a shame, as the lowered suspension and 16-inch wheels seem to set up the Corsa with excellent body control and significant reserves of grip to go off and have fun on a challenging B-road, making the stiff ride worth the sacrifice.
Looking at the other three cars selected for running costs comparisons, all three would offer more fun as an all-round driving experience.
However, the Corsa is endearing for a compact car with sporty pretensions and its spirit seems to be in the right place.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.4SRi
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £10,690
CO2 emissions (g/km): 146
BIK % of P11D in 2004/05: 15%
Graduated VED rate: £105
Insurance group: 5E
Combined mpg: 46.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £3,475/33%
Depreciation (20.29 pence per mile x 60,000): £6,600
Maintenance (2.16 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,272
Fuel (5.90 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,944
Wholelife cost (28.35 pence per mile x 60,000): £12,816
Typical contract hire rate: £237 per month
Three rivals to consider
THREE of these cars are knocking on the door of £11,000, but all are well equipped for the price and offer about 90bhp each. The MG is in base spec for nearly £10,000, but offers more than 100bhp and looks the part with its mesh grille. However, this is a good round for the Corsa, which also offers fuel-saving/performance-boosting twinport technology on its 1.4-litre engine, although it will not achieve both of these characteristics at exactly the same time when driving.
THE Corsa just misses out on victory thanks to the Peugeot's projected SMR cost of £1,200 over three years/ 60,000 miles, although with service intervals of up to 20,000 miles the Corsa works out at £72 more than the Peugeot. The difference between the Fiesta and the Corsa is £48 to the Vauxhall's advantage while the MG is £78 more than the Corsa. However, this is still a close race.
THIS is where the Corsa's twinport engine begins to affect the argument. With a combined fuel consumption figure of more than 46mpg for our racy SRi test car, the projected 60,000-mile fuel bill is £4,944. Next best is the Peugeot 206, with its new 16-valve 1.4-litre engine costing £5,262 while the Fiesta is just behind on £5,325. Bringing up the rear with its 102bhp engine is the MG ZR, with an expected fuel bill of £5,544, exactly a penny per mile more than the Corsa.
THIS is another closely-fought contest and shows how well small cars hold their value. Although the Vauxhall has the highest pence per mile costs for depreciation, it is expected to lose £132 more than the Ford over three years/60,000 miles, while the Peugeot 206 1.4 Quiksilver has a £30 advantage over the Fiesta. The MG does best in this comparison thanks to its lower P11d price, a clear £474 ahead of the Corsa, but bear in mind it does without some of the features available as standard on the other cars, like air conditioning.
A CLOSE race with just £324 difference between the least expensive, the Corsa, and the most expensive, the Ford, over three years/60,000 miles. The only category won outright by the Vauxhall is fuel costs and although combined fuel consumption figures are not set out on the road in everyday driving, the importance of it should not be underestimated. As petrol technology plays catch-up with diesel, fleets will be interested in all cost-effective technology.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
THE Corsa has a clear advantage from April 2004. It is two tax bands lower than its nearest rival and over time this will offset its P11d price even against the sub-£10,000 MG ZR. A 22% taxpayer can expect to pay £29 per month driving the Vauxhall over 2004/05, compared with £34 for the Peugeot 206. The following year the monthly tax take will increase to £31 for the Corsa compared with £36 for the Peugeot, with the Vauxhall maintaining its advantage.
A NARROW running costs victory for the Corsa, but for all- round fun the other three cars are strong contenders. For a compact 'warm' hatchback, the driving experience must be added to the mix. I remember having more fun in the new 206 1.4 16-valve, while the Fiesta can't be counted out despite being the most expensive in overall costs. In the end the Ford just snatches victory as the small cost difference is offset by the better driving experience.
At a glance
Smart SRi styling
Low overall costs
Electric power steering
Poor brake pedal feel