Used Vauxhall Corsa (2014-2019) buying guide

August 26, 2022 by

Proving a popular small car with young and old alike, the Corsa has long been a big seller for Vauxhall. If you’re considering one, here’s everything you need to know.

The Vauxhall Corsa is about as synonymous with British motoring as Jeremy Clarkson, roadworks and average speed cameras. It has long been one of the country’s best-selling cars thanks to its affordability and broad appeal.

It’s far from the most exciting choice of supermini, but it’s still deserving of a place on your used small car shortlist.

Over the years it has earned itself a reputation as a reliable all-rounder for buyers of every age, being just as popular with younger motorists who need something inexpensive to insure as with older buyers who don’t need the practicality of a larger car.

Vauxhall Corsa: Pros and cons

What’s good
Reliable with low running costs
Comfortable and easy to drive
1.0-litre engine is excellent

What’s not so good
Other engines uninspiring
Large A-pillar limits visibility
Fiddly infotainment

Is a used Vauxhall Corsa a good car?

This generation was introduced in 2014 and was considered an overhaul of its predecessor, rather than an all-new model. Despite this, it got a fresh exterior design, improved interior technology and a range of reliable engines, marking a big leap forward for the Vauxhall hatchback.

If you’re a budget-conscious car buyer the Corsa is tough to beat. There’s the economical engines and low insurance groups for a start, while the sheer popularity means there are always plenty on sale, keeping prices affordable.

And with so many on the road, parts are cheap and plentiful, while finding a local garage or Vauxhall dealer with the expertise to fix any problems that arise should be easy.

All of this means the Corsa is ideal if you’re a new or younger driver looking for their first car, as well as anyone looking to keep costs down.

What body styles are available?

The Vauxhall Corsa is only available in hatchback form, with three- and five-door options available.

The three-door is a little more stylish, but it’s naturally trickier to get into the rear seats. On the plus side, though, the doors open wide, so you don’t need to be a contortionist to climb into the back – it’s just not something you’ll want to be dealing with too regularly.

If you’re buying the Corsa as a family car or will be carrying rear passengers more often, the five-door is the one to go for, offering the added bonus of a little more headroom in the rear.

What are the engine options?

At first glance, there’s an almost dizzying array of engines offered in the Corsa, but once you get your head around the buzzwords it starts to make more sense.

Starting with the petrol, there’s a 1.2-litre that makes 70hp, a 1.4-litre with 90hp and 100hp outputs, and a 1.0-litre making 90hp or 115hp.

Diesels are simpler still, with a 1.3-litre unit with either 75hp or 95hp – 2015-onwards models meet Euro 6 emissions standard. This means you won’t be charged for entering clean air zones or London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

It’s the 115hp 1.0-litre ‘Ecotec’ engine that you’re going to want to aim for. It was newly introduced for this generation and offers an impressive 58mpg. It’s also fairly nippy with smooth acceleration, making it great around town.

As well as this fuel-sipping ability, running costs in general won’t break the bank, with each Corsa sitting in a low insurance group and requiring low vehicle excise duty (VED) payments.

VED rules changed in March 2017, but cars registered before that are charged between £0 and £110 per year at 2022/23 levels, depending on the engine you choose. Post March 2017 cars pay between £140 and £180.

If you’re less worried about cost savings, there’s the slightly sporty GSi, which was introduced in 2018 with a 150hp 1.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, or the much sportier VXR, with its 205hp 1.6-litre unit, which went on sale in 2015.

What trim levels are available?

Choice is always a good thing, but if you were looking to buy the fourth-generation Corsa when new you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed by the trim choices. There were nine to choose from, with some not available with every engine, just to mix things up further.

For the used buyer, this means it can be tricky to get your head around which trim levels have the equipment you want, and which are offered with the best engines.

Standard equipment in the base level Life trim isn’t particularly impressive, with a heated windscreen the only real highlight. You also get a stereo with an aux socket and electrically adjustable door mirrors, while the steel wheels measure 14 inches for petrol engines and 15 inches for diesels.

Step up to Sting and you get a few desirable extras, such as white stripes for the bodywork, LED daytime running lights, cruise control and a CD/MP3 player with a USB connection for iPods. The Sting R swaps in black stripes, adds 16-inch alloy wheels and some sporty interior touches.

Excite adds air conditioning with most engine options, Bluetooth connectivity and the highly recommended IntelliLink infotainment system. Design versions have a similar specification, but come with 15-inch wheels and a leather-covered steering wheel.

A Limited Edition trim offered an impressive specification, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, a subtle exterior body kit, and a sports suspension with a lower ride height than the standard version.

If you’re looking for a more stylish model you should check out the SRi. Although it didn’t benefit from more powerful engines, it did get ‘sports-style’ seats and pedals and smart 16-inch alloy wheels, while an SRi VX-Line added 17-inch wheels, a body kit and the sports suspension.

At the top of the range was the SE. On top of the equipment listed above it came with a heated steering wheel and front seats, chrome bits inside and out and parking sensors front and rear, which are impressive luxuries for a small hatchback of this era.

If it’s performance you’re after, the VXR hot hatch is the one to go for. It’s by far the most powerful Corsa of this generation and has a body kit that gives it a more aggressive look, extensive upgrades to improve handling, and decent on-board equipment.

Finally, there’s the GSi model, which is essentially a ‘warm hatch’ to the spicier VXR. It’s based on that go-faster VXR model (without the Performance Package) but has a less powerful engine and slightly less impressive equipment. It wasn’t introduced until 2018, though, so will be one of the pricier options for this generation.

How practical is it?

As a small hatchback, the Vauxhall Corsa isn’t hugely practical, but by the class standards it performs pretty well. The boot is on par with most competitors – 280 litres seats up, 690 litres seats down – and while there is an annoying lip to lift items over, you can fit a false floor that makes it easier to load large or heavy cargo.

If you need a bit more space, the rear seats fold flat, but most models have a single rear bench. This is particularly annoying if you have a child seat in the rear but need some extra load space for a pushchair, for example. Want the 60/40 split-folding rear seat? Look for an SRI or SE model.

The cabin has loads of useful cubby holes dotted about, and the door pockets are able to take a large water bottle, which is impressive for such a small car.

Although the basic dimensions of the Corsa’s interior remain the same as its predecessor, almost everything within it has been redesigned to improve its appearance and practicality.

There’s a redesigned instrument display that has a clear digital screen between the dials. It’s great for useful trip information such as fuel economy, even if the graphics are looking rather dated now.

There are fewer buttons than, say, the Ford Fiesta, which helps the Vauxhall stand the test of time a little better, particularly in models with the IntelliLink infotainment display. The piano black trim surrounding the screen looked great when new, but will be prone to scratches and sticky finger prints, so take a good look before buying.

What’s it like to drive?

Keen drivers might be better served by the Ford Fiesta, the Corsa’s sales nemesis, but if you’re not fussed about sharp handling then this little Vauxhall serves up an enjoyable driving experience.

It doesn’t crumble at the first sight of a corner, but it’s clearly been designed to be a calm and comfortable companion. It’s not too noisy at high speeds, either, so longer journeys are a breeze.

On shorter, city-focused drives, though, City Steering is a cool feature, and is activated via a button on the dashboard. It makes the steering lighter, so low speed manoeuvrability is effortless.

Visibility is pretty good, too, but the thick A-pillars can block your sight in corners. One other annoying feature is the lack of a left foot rest, which could prove uncomfortable on long journeys.

What to look out for

Vauxhall Corsa horror stories are few and far between, so despite not scoring particularly well for reliability in ownership surveys, there are few major red flags to look out for.

Remember, this Corsa is still based on the previous model, giving Vauxhall time to iron out any big problems, while the engines are tried and tested, often being shared with larger models.

The Corsa suffers from the majority of its use being short distances. Therefore, mechanical components might not have been regularly getting up to their optimal operating temperatures, which can increase wear and tear. Plenty of receipts and a full service history will offer extra peace of mind.

Completing most of their miles in the city, often at the hands of new drivers, means Corsas are particularly susceptible to scrapes and dings. Have a good look around the car for any damage, particularly big hits to alloy wheels that may have harmed the tyre.

Keep an eye out for any signs of major bodywork repair, such as subtly mismatched paint colours or misaligned bodywork, which might hint at further damage underneath.

Vauxhall Corsa recalls

Recalls happen regularly in the car industry as the result of a manufacturer or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) finding an issue with a vehicle.

You can read more about what recalls are in our handy guide, or continue below to see what recalls have been issued for the 2014-2019 Vauxhall Corsa…

Nearly 9,000 vehicles built between June 23rd and July 30th 2015 have an issue with the steering rack, which could cause them to crack and lose steering control.

About 400 cars built between 30th June 2014 and September 28th 2015 could have a steering knuckle and lower control arm assembly problem. This can cause a sudden failure that makes it difficult to control the car.

Following the trend for steering-related recalls, 3,333 cars made between October 18th 2014 and January 5th 2015 have steering racks that could break during slow speed manoeuvres.

Problems with the roof side rail airbag not deploying correctly have been reported in cars built between August 25th and December 1st 2016, though it affects just 102 vehicles.

Finally, around 1,100 cars built between May 21st and June 28th 2019 could find that the seat belt sticks when it is pulled out and retracted.

Safety and security

The Vauxhall Corsa scored four out of five stars in Euro NCAP testing when it was released in 2014. Testing was less comprehensive than it is now, and the Corsa fell behind the five-star Ford Fiesta, losing marks for missing a few airbags as well as a lack of automatic emergency braking.

Although it scored poorly for driver assistance technology, there are some useful systems included on some higher trims, such as hill start assist, parking assistance, lane departure warning, a rear-view camera and blindspot alert.

What else should I consider?

The small car class is a busy one with some excellent competitors. The Ford Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car for decades for a reason, and remains the class leader thanks to its smart looks and fun driving characteristics.

The Volkswagen Polo is a more subtle and refined alternative that’s great over long distances, while the Peugeot 208 pushes the Corsa for comfort.

A Skoda Fabia will always be good value for money as well as being one of the more practical options, or you could take a look at the Renault Clio if you want a bit more character.

If you’re interested in buying a used Vauxhall Corsa, you can find the latest stock from a network of trusted dealers. You can also sell your old car though carwow, and it’s quick and easy.