First Drive Review: Vauxhall Corsa

Independent review by Chris Russon

5-minute read

Orange Vauxhall Corsa Exterior Front Driving

First Drive: Vauxhall Corsa

Explore the key features of the Vauxhall Corsa in our expert first drive review

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As one of the UK's most popular cars, the new generation of Corsa has big expectations to meet, and it does so with flying colours.


  • Plenty of tech to choose from
  • Good driving experience
  • Low running costs
  • Much-improved aesthetic
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The Corsa name has been around for the best part of 30 years, and now the fifth generation of Vauxhall's top seller is about to hit the scene.

It’s one of the best loved cars in Britain and since it first appeared back in 1993 the Corsa has notched up more than two million UK sales.

That trend looks set to continue with this generation, and it comes with a host of benefits from Vauxhall’s new parents PSA – the French company behind Peugeot and Citroën.

The new Corsa shares the same underpinnings with the latest Peugeot 208 and like its French counterpart will be available with both conventional and electric powertrains.

The standard Corsa comes with a choice of two petrol engines and a single diesel, while the Corsa-e offers an impressive all-electric powertrain.

Technology and Equipment

The new Corsa looks the part as a modern hatch, it's almost two inches lower and a fraction narrower than the previous model, but its squatter demeanour is set off with handsome body cuts and some sporty design.

Whilst starting prices are higher than previous generations, the new one is 5-door only and comes with much more kit. In the new supermini league, it's right on the money.

Ultra bright LED headlamps are standard across the range – top grade models get matrix versions which are totally automatic and dazzle free – while every version has a comprehensive list of safety kit and the engines are state of the art when it comes to emissions.

Full smartphone compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on every version, with 7-inch display screens on SE and SRi grades, and 10-inch touch screens on higher grade Elite Nav and Ultimate models.

And to cover all bases, Vauxhall is playing clever by including upgraded trim options which not only add sat nav but also heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Driving Experience

All are tried and tested PSA powertrains, and I've tried out three variants – 1.2-litre turbo petrols with both manual and automatic transmissions, and the 1.5 diesel – they all impressed.

In fact, the ‘dirtiest’ powertrain – the 8-speed auto mated to the 1.2-litre petrol – has a CO2 output of just 99g/km, which is a huge improvement over the 128g/km at best of the previous model.

On the road, the new Corsa has splendid manners. A positive feel to the steering makes it quite sporty to handle.
Chris Russon

All but the diesel – back in the line-up after being dropped from the previous range – were lively and brisk through the gears.

The diesel, with 101bhp on tap, felt quite sluggish at lower revs, but its fuel economy was exceptional, rated at 70.6mpg under the new WLTP regime with emissions of 85g/km.

We averaged 69mpg in the diesel, and that was far ahead of the 39mpg we saw from the 1.2-litre petrol manual and the 36mpg from the automatic.

Officially, those are rated at 52mpg (96g/km) and 48mpg (99g/km) for the auto, which was smooth and accomplished in operation and gave the Corsa a ‘big car’ feel.

While the diesel had to be worked to get near its 9.6 second 0 to 62mph time, once moving it held its own and officially has a top speed of 117mph.

The 99bhp 1.2-litre petrol was much more willing and comes in at 9.3 seconds for 0 to 62mph dash, with a top end of 121mph. The auto maxes out at 119mph and has a 10.2 second 0 to 62mph time.

The base car is fitted with a lower powered 74bhp 1.2-litre engine which gives it a 12.4 second 0 to 62mph time, a top end of 108mph, and a best fuel return of 53mpg.

The zero emission electric Corsa-e, with a range of around 200 miles on a single charge, will be the flagship of the range, and has a 0 to 62mph of 7.9 seconds.

Design and Practicality

All round, the new Corsa is a quantum leap for Vauxhall and despite its dimensions is actually roomier inside. Boot space is increased as well to 309 litres, topping out at 1,118 litres.

A tyre repair kit is regular fit and a spacesaver spare is an optional extra, but that will take out some additional room below the boot floor.

Inside, the new Corsa is smart and contemporary, well trimmed, and all models can be fitted with sat nav.


In terms of popularity, the new model is that good it could just tip the scales in Vauxhall’s favour, putting it at the top of the tree in the UK ahead of the Ford Fiesta – and that's some achievement.

With its wide range of available equipment, impressive road manners, and low running costs, the new Corsa gave great first impressions and is a suitable car for a wide variety of lifestyles.