Video of the Corsa unveiling on the bank of the Thames
ANYBODY who has been subjected to those deformed soft toys screeching ‘C’mon’ will be in no doubt that Vauxhall reckons its Corsa is aimed squarely at the youthful, funky end of the market.
The devilish spawn of Flat Eric (remember him from those Levi’s commercials?) and a deranged Muppet are intended to create a buzz among the iPod generation for the new Corsa that the old, conservative car never could. Sure, it was a dependable machine, but it really was little more than a glorified shopping trolley.
The new car is much more bubbly and vivacious – so much so that the first time I drove it, I almost put it in a hedge with my first turn of the steering wheel.
The SXi model on test is claimed to have a tuned steering rack and sportier suspension. I’ve heard that before, I thought, as I reached the first bend and promptly squirted the car towards the kerb. This Corsa has the sharpest steering this (cheap) side of a Lotus Elise.
Which makes it a very enjoyable car to scoot about in – it’s like sitting on the back of a crazed fly. So it even has the character of those loony puppet things.
And with the stiffer suspension and 16-inch wheels, it handles pretty well. Some superminis have been getting a bit lardy over the years, but the new Corsa reminds you that small cars should be a hoot to drive.
There’s plenty of other elements to recommend in the Corsa. In three-door guise, the rear apes the slashed Astra Sport Hatch, albeit in a slightly more bubbly form and is the best-looking, funkiest supermini on the market.
And the interior is pretty good, too. In fact the inside feels very grown-up. There’s lots of space and even for somebody of my height (six-foot-plus), you can get a very comfortable, near-perfect driving position.
SXi models have sports seats and they hold you in place well. They need to: even a sneeze is likely to make the ultra-sensitive steering wobble the car.
The aluminium-look trim is just about good enough to enhance the overall ambience, although the strip that stretches over the top of the dashboard reflects annoyingly in the windscreen. The black trim is better.
The 1.4-litre engine with 88bhp has its work cut out propelling the Corsa about and can be a little boomy if you’re stuck in fifth on a motorway for long periods.
But as an overall package, you wouldn’t baulk at the thought of doing high mileages in it during a hard fleet life. It’s not fast, but it is sprightly, and that’s more than enough from a car of this size and price.
Vauxhall has pulled off a canny balance with the Corsa. On the one hand, there’s a maturity and solidity to it that means it’s a car you can live with. On the other there’s a wittiness about it that makes it very endearing.
P11D value: £10,957
CO2 emissions (g/km): 149
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 16%
Graduated VED rate: £100
Insurance group: 4
Combined mpg: 45.6
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £3,375/31%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £253
We don’t like:
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
ALL four are pretty much brand new, reflecting how exciting the sector is. The Grande Punto is leading Fiat’s resurgence, and is well-specced with Bluetooth, MP3 player and 17-inch alloys. The Corsa centres on its sporting credentials, while the Clio and 207 are decently equipped.
EMISSIONS AND TAX RATES
LOW tax is key for superminis, and the best of the four is the Fiat which would cost a 22% taxpayer a mere £29 per month. Close behind is the Corsa at £32, followed by the 207 at £33 with the Clio – which has high CO2 thanks to being the most powerful and heaviest – on £36.
THE tyres needed to fit the 16-inch alloys on the Corsa are expensive – the rubber needed over its 60,000-mile life will cost more than £700. In comparison the Clio’s tyre costs are £580. But Vauxhall has got its other SMR costs well buttoned down, and it is the cheapest by nearly £100.
Corsa: 2.73 (ppm) £1,638 (60,000 mile total)
207: 2.89 £1,734
G/Punto: 3.11 £1,866
Clio: 3.63 £2,178
THE aim here is average economy in the mid-40s and the 207, Grande Punto and Corsa manage it with the Fiat leading the way on 47.1mpg. The Clio returns 42.8 – not a particularly heavy right foot off a real-world figure in the late 30s – not good for a car of this size.
G/Punto: 9.52 (ppm) £5,712 (60,000 miles total)
Corsa: 9.83 £5,898
207: 10.17 £6,102
Clio: 10.48 £6,288
THE 207 retains slightly more of its original cost than the others, although the margins are very small. These cars’ residuals are susceptible to the strategies of their makers – if they decide they need to do a lot of short-term rental business, expect to see RVs shift down over time.
207: 11.59 (ppm) £6,954 (60,000 miles total)
G/Punto: 11.84 £7,104
Clio: 12.28 £7,368
Corsa: 12.42 £7,452
THERE is barely anything between the top three, with the Clio slightly adrift due to higher fuel and SMR costs. The 207’s RV puts it in first, with the Corsa and Grande Punto close behind. But discount is key – whichever carmaker gives you the most off is probably the favourite.
207: 24.65 (ppm) £14,790 (60,000 miles total)
Corsa: 24.98 £14,988
G/Punto: 24.99 £14,994
Clio: 25.87 £15,522
THE wholelife cost comparison shows that all four of these superminis are worth a look, although the Clio is perhaps a little too expensive to run (even though the margins are tiny and amount to a few hundred pounds over three years). So in this case, the verdict comes down to other factors and for me, the fact it’s a great little car to drive, the superb customer service from the fleet department our readers report and the fact it is a more dependable brand means the new Corsa gets my vote.