Review: Vauxhall Corsa (2019)

Rating:

Rewarding to drive. Well-equipped as standard. Excellent 1.2-litre 100PS petrol engine.

Cramped rear seats. Bumpy ride quality on 17-inch wheels. Highest spec models are £26,000.

Vauxhall Corsa (2019): At A Glance

Cheap to run, well-equipped and easy to drive, the Vauxhall Corsa is the embodiment of the small car all-rounder. However, while Vauxhall's latest small car instalment will is the best Corsa yet, it still can’t match the fun of the Ford Fiesta or the everyday practicality of the SEAT Ibiza.

The Vauxhall Corsa has plenty to offer buyers who are in need of an affordable small car that provides decent value and a rewarding drive. Indeed, compared to its predecessor, the latest Corsa is a revelation behind the wheel. The Corsa borrows a lot of its oily bits from the 208, with the platform and running gear all being carried over from the Peugeot. However, while the two are mechanically similar, the Vauxhall is the keener car to drive.

That stiffer set-up does impact comfort, with the Corsa feeling quite unsettled at low speeds. Rough roads and pot holes produce a lot of body movement, which is made worse with the fit of higher spec 17-inch wheels with 205/45 R17 tyres. In our view, both the Fiesta and Ibiza are more comfortable cars. 

The Corsa is offered with petrol, diesel or electric power, but most will choose the zesty three-cylinder 1.2-litre 100PS petrol, which is identical to the 1.2 PureTech engine found in the Peugeot 208. In our opinion, it's one of the best petrol engines on sale today, only second to Volkswagen's brilliant 1.0 TSI unit. The 1.2 engine is packed with torque and it works wonderfully well in the Corsa, with 0-62mph taking nine seconds and advertised economy peaking at a respectable 52mpg. 

All versions of the Vauxhall Corsa are generously equipped as standard. Even entry-level models get LED headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/55 R16 tyres and touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility as standard. However, while the Corsa's spec makes a lot of sense on paper, in reality the cabin is more cheap than cheerful with cramped rear seats and lots of scratchy grey plastics. The infotainment is also a long way behind the quality of the systems used by Ford and the Volkswagen Group.

Compared to the old model, the latest Vauxhall Corsa does represent a monumental leap forward in terms of handling and refinement. And much of this is down to its PSA partnership. However, while an undeniable improvement, the Corsa's progress is hindered by its cramped and disappointing cabin. 

What does a Vauxhall Corsa (2019) cost?

List Price from £15,550
Buy new from £14,475
Contract hire from £132.16 per month

Vauxhall Corsa (2019): What's It Like Inside?

The layout of the interior is functional, with a clear layout and lots of useful storage pockets and cup holders, but the majority of the surfaces are covered with a thick layer of hardwearing plastic that gives the cabin a dated feel that wouldn't be out of place in a Vauxhall from 10-years ago.

The driver does get a fully adjustable driving position with height adjustable seat and a reach and rake flat bottomed leather steering wheel. All versions get a 7-inch colour touchscreen integrated into the centre of the dash, but only the optional 10-inch system gets the separate hard keys for quick and easy use of radio, apps, phone and car settings.  

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on both systems as standard so you can pair your phone and bypass the system, but the narrow display means the visible surface of the screen is actually quite small. And this makes it difficult to use the infotainment system when on the move. 

The Corsa will happily accommodate two adults in the front, but the rear seat are cramped and lacking in legroom. This means tall adults will find their knees being pressed against the fonrt seatbacks, while the sloping roof will force tall people to crane their necks to fit inside. All versions of the Corsa are five-door only, but the rear doors are quite narrow and the high floor lip makes it a challenge to get in and out of the rear seats. 

Loadspace is 309 litres under the parcel shelf, which is better than the Ford Fiesta's 292 litres but less than the 355 litres you get in the SEAT Ibiza. The rear seats do fold forward to provide 1081 litres, but the high boot lip and narrow opening will make it a challenge to fit anything wide and bulky in the back.

There is 610mm load length to the backs of the rear seats, but rear suspension braces intrude slightly so the width between the wheelarches is 970mm - and 1020mm behind. The rear seatbacks fold giving a load length of 1460mm, but, as in the Fiesta, the load deck is not flat.

Under the load deck floor is a deep spare wheel well, empty in the cars we tested to save weight, but capable of taking an optional full sized spare wheel or a space saver.

Standard equipment from launch (December 2019):

Entry level SE models get: 16-inch double spoke alloy wheels, 7-inch colour touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB digital radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, Bluetooth mobile phone portal, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (no subscription required), leather flat bottom steering wheel, LED Headlights with LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking lane departure warning with lane assist, speed sign recognition, automatic emergency city braking, hill start assist, ISOFIX child seat fixings on outer rear seats.

SRi models add: 16-inch ‘Hurricane’ alloy wheels, LED front fog lamps, electric front and rear windows, exterior line styling pack including sport fascia and visible chrome tipped exhaust, dark-tinted rear windows, black roof, A- and B-pillars and roof spoiler, alloy sport pedals, sport Switch, sports front seats, LED taillights, rear Parking Sensors and vehicle alarm.

Elite Nav includes: 16-inch multi spoke alloy wheels, Multimedia Navi Pro navigation, 10-inch colour touchscreen. 2D/3D street level mapping, Vauxhall Connect, electric folding door mirrors, fabric premium leather effect seat trim, ambient LED lighting, chrome DLO, panoramic rear view camera, side blind spot alert and flank guard, parking Sensors (front and rear), automatic headlight control, automatic anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers and heated front seats and steering wheel.

Range-topping Ultimate Nav gets: 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, leather seats with massage function (driver), IntelliLux LED Matrix Headlights, keyless open and start, electronic climate control, adaptive cruise control, electric park brake and Vauxhall Connect.

Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Corsa (2019)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Vauxhall Corsa (2019) like to drive?

The Vauxhall Corsa is significantly better to drive than its predecessor. Much of this is down to the fact that the Corsa shares its mechanical platform with the Peugeot 208, with the Corsa's kerb weight starting at just 980kg - 108kg less than its predecessor.

To achieve this Vauxhall has used aluminium for the construction of the bonnet and engines. Even the seats have been redesigned to shed weight. Yet, despite losing around 10 per cent of its weight, the Corsa remains roughly the same size as before - albeit with five doors as standard.

The Corsa handles well but not as sharply as a Fiesta, although it's very pleasant to drive. SRi models have a 'Sport' button that sharpens throttle response, stiffens up the steering and pipes an artificial engine sound into the cabin.

However, while Corsa is good to drive with light steering and lots of front-end grip, the stiffer set-up does impact ride quality on 205/45 R17 tyres at urban speeds. During UK tests we noticed that the Corsa has a tendency to get quite bumpy at lower speeds and pot holes can result in some hardy bumps (strangely not the case on Croation roads in our full road test). Thankfully, on the motorway, the ride quality settles down. 

The Corsa doesn't get the 208's fancy 3D i-Cockpit digital dashboard, although some might prefer the Corsa's traditional layout compared to the Peugeot's small steering wheel that can block the driver's view of the instrument cluster.

Most buyers will choose their Corsa with petrol-power. The sole 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol is available with 75PS or 100PS. To date, we've only tested the 100PS unit, but it is peach of an engine with 205Nm delivered between 1500 - 3500rpm. This means the Corsa has a rewarding punch, which provides plenty of zip for passing slow moving vehicles or joining a fast flowing A road. 

Drivers who cover long distances can also spec the Corsa with diesel power, in the form of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that develops 102PS and 250Nm. However, while the diesel has more low-gear acceleration, it does have a tendency to become quite noisy between 20 and 40mph. 

The 75PS 1.2 engine is the only powertrain to get a five-speed manual gearbox, while the higher powered petrol and diesel get a six-speed manual as standard.

Vauxhall offers an eight-speed (EAT8) automatic as an optional extra. It shifts quickly and intuitively when left to its own devices and there are three shift options - Normal, Eco or Sport. In our opinion, it knocks spots off any other small automatic, apart from the 208 and C3 Aircross automatics with the same transmission.