Vauxhall Corsa Review
The latest Vauxhall Corsa is great value for money, good to drive and is available with pure electric power.
Published: 2 February 2023
The Vauxhall Corsa is one of the UK’s most popular small cars, and with the latest version (on sale since 2019) it’s easy to see why. It’s well-equipped, despite being one of the most affordable superminis you can buy, with the high-spec models feeling positively luxurious.
The Corsa is a five-door model available with a petrol or a diesel engine, but there’s also an all-electric model called the Corsa-e. The Corsa is a good all-rounder but its most appealing feature is probably the value for money it offers. And because it’s such a big seller, there’s a lot to choose from on the used market, so finding the right Corsa for you should be easy.
- Lots of equipment as standard
- Electric version available
- Low running costs
- A little cramped in the back
- Some rivals have a bigger boot
- Bland interior design
Dashboard & tech
Most Corsa models have a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard to control things like the radio, Bluetooth and sat nav (if fitted). It’s not the easiest system to use, but fortunately Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range for seamless smartphone connectivity. High-spec models have an impressive 10-inch touchscreen which is easier to use while driving.
All models have physical buttons for controlling the heating and ventilation, so you don’t have to scroll through the touchscreen menus to adjust the temperature.
A height-adjustable driver’s seat combines with a steering wheel that you can fine-tune for height and reach to let you find your perfect driving position. The front passenger seat also adjusts for height, so there should be no arguments about who has the comfiest seat. All versions have a flat-bottomed steering wheel which looks good and frees up a little space for your knees. The top-grade trim levels come with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Most models have rear parking sensors that help if you’re struggling to see over your shoulders when reversing into a space. High-spec versions also have front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
The interior quality is almost on a par with the excellent Volkswagen Polo, although the design is a bit nondescript, especially compared with cars such as the Peugeot 208. The top-spec Ultimate trim feels especially opulent, with seats covered in either leather or a suede-like material, depending on the age of the car.
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Practicality & boot space
There’s a lot of room in the front, but while the back of the previous Corsa was one of the most spacious among small cars, this latest model has a little less room. Adults might find their knees are pressed against the backrests if there are tall people in the front, while the middle back seat is best reserved for children.
On the plus side, the door bins are a good size and there’s a handy compartment for your smartphone at the bottom of the centre console, complete with USB port for easy charging and connectivity. There are two cupholders in the front and, on mid-spec and high-spec models, a centre armrest with storage space. The glovebox is on the small side, but there’s enough room for a wallet or a bag of sweets.
The Corsa’s boot is larger than the Ford Fiesta’s, with 309 litres of space available. That’s enough for a large suitcase and a couple of soft bags or a weekly grocery shop. Need more space? If you want a small car with lots of load space take a look at the Honda Jazz, the Renault Clio or the Skoda Fabia, which have much larger boots.
All Corsa models have back seats that can fold down in a 60/40 split so you can carry a longer load along with a back-seat passenger. With all of the back seats folded down, the size of the boot increases to 1,081 litres – enough to carry the luggage for a fortnight’s holiday in the sun. Unlike previous Corsas, the current model is five-door only – there’s no three-door option.
The best way to describe the driving experience would be to say it sits somewhere between the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Polo. The Fiesta is more fun to drive, and the Polo is more comfortable, with the Corsa offering a very decent compromise between the two. This is especially true on a motorway, where the Corsa is as comfortable and quiet as a much bigger car. Cruise control is standard across the range for relaxing on long journeys. There’s also a driver-drowsiness system to warn you if things get a little too relaxed.
But it also feels small and nimble in the city. Most versions have rear parking sensors to help you navigate in tight situations, with a rear-view camera fitted to high-spec models.
When it comes to power, you can choose from 74bhp, 99bhp or 128bhp versions of the 1.2-litre petrol engine. The least-powerful unit has a five-speed manual gearbox, and provides adequate performance if you spend most of your time within the city limits.
The other petrol engines are turbocharged for extra zip, with the 99bhp model – available with a six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed automatic – offering a great balance of inner-city pace and long-journey comfort. The 128bhp version is even more responsive but is only available as an automatic.
A 101bhp, 1.5-litre diesel version offers a superb blend of performance and economy and is ideal if you have a long commute.
The electric Corsa-e is the fastest model in the range, with the quickest acceleration, especially at city speeds. Unlike the other models, the Corsa-e drives in near-silence.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
The Corsa-e has an official battery range of 222 miles, which is good for a small electric car and on a par with rivals such as the Renault Zoe and the Peugeot e-208. Zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions means the Corsa-e will cost you nothing in car tax until 2025, while CO2 emissions for the petrol and diesel versions are comparatively low.
According to official figures, Corsa models with the 1.5-litre diesel engine can give average fuel economy of 70.6mpg, making it the most economical (non-electric) Corsa you can buy.
The 1.2-litre petrol engine gives you 45.7mpg to 53.3mpg, depending on the bhp or gearbox. As a guide, the manual versions are more economical.
Value for money
Considering the high level of features, fuel-efficient engines and relatively low price, the Corsa offers great value for money. The Corsa-e costs more to buy, but this should be at least partially offset by the low running costs of an electric car.
Reliability & Warranty
The Vauxhall Corsa feels solidly made. It shares its engines and many parts with the Peugeot 208, which has an excellent record for reliability. Indeed, in the latest J.D. Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study, Vauxhall was ranked sixth.
From new, the Corsa had Vauxhall’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, so most used models will still be covered. Some rivals had a longer period of cover – for example, the Kia’s Rio comes with seven years of factory warranty.
The Corsa was awarded a four-star rating out of five by the safety experts Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2019. It missed out on top marks because some safety features were only available on high-spec models or as an option on others.
All versions have six airbags, a lane-departure warning system, automatic emergency braking, speed-limit recognition, high-beam assist, cruise control and hill-start assist. High-spec models have adaptive cruise control and lane-assist.
Trims & Engines
The current Corsa launched with a dozen trim levels, plus two versions of the electric Corsa-e. This was later trimmed to a simpler line-up of Design, GS Line and Ultimate, with more equipment included as standard across the range. Even the entry-level Design trim has a list of equipment that would be optional on some other small cars, including LED headlights, lane-departure warning, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 16-inch alloy wheels and air con.
The old 1.5-litre diesel engine is no longer available in new Corsas, but it’s worth seeking out if you’re after a small car with excellent fuel economy. If you spend most of your time in the city or on short trips, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is the better choice. The mid-range 99bhp engine offers the best balance of performance and economy, with the fuel-efficiency of the 74bhp version and the acceleration of the 128bhp unit. There’s no choice in power for the Corsa-e – each one uses the same electric motor and 50kWh battery.
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