Vauxhall Corsa Review
The Vauxhall Corsa looks good, has a range of efficient engines and offers a pure-electric version. Its interior is a bit drab, though, and space in the back is tight.
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There have been a few decent things to come out of the 1990s. The Foo Fighters, Take That, Friends and Liz Hurley’s Versace dress. Add to that the Vauxhall Corsa, which has been a stalwart of the UK car sales top 10 since 1993, and this latest model looks set to continue the trend because it’s higher-tech, safer and better quality than ever.
Just as well, because the Corsa faces a tough job standing out next to a long list of great small cars, including the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo, plus the Peugeot 208, with which the Corsa shares most of its underpinnings.
The Vauxhall has a bold grille design, the option of a contrasting roof colour and some super-bright LED headlights across the range. Inside, you’ll find lashings of shiny black plastics and different seat designs depending on which model you pick, but next to the Peugeot 208, the Vauxhall Corsa looks a bit drab.
At least the standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is pretty sharp and all Vauxhall Corsas come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It isn’t the most intuitive system out there, though – even if you upgrade to the larger, easier to read 10-inch screen in higher-spec cars.
Whichever Vauxhall Corsa you pick, you’ll find there’s good space for a couple of adults in the front, but knee room for adults in the back isn’t as good, and headroom is tight. The trade-off for this is that the Vauxhall Corsa has a good-sized boot for a car this size.
The Vauxhall Corsa is a much better car than the model it replaces, but its interior and infotainment don’t have the wow-factor of a Peugeot 208’s.
You can choose between petrol, diesel and pure-electric power for your new Corsa. A 75hp 1.2-litre petrol kicks off the range, although it’s rather slow so is best if you mainly stay in town. A better bet is the turbocharged 100hp version of the same engine, which handles motorway slip-road sprints and overtakes with more ease, yet doesn’t use much more fuel.
There’s also a 1.5 diesel with 102hp that’s even more economical, but it isn’t worth considering unless you’re constantly doing long journeys on the motorway.
Like the Peugeot 208, the Vauxhall Corsa is also available as a pure-electric car. It makes a great choice for those who mainly cover short distances, but it is the priciest Corsa on sale. Read more about that Corsa-e in the separate review.
To drive, the Corsa feels different from the 208 – it steers more keenly, turns more eagerly (especially the stiffer SRi model) and puts a bigger grin on your face as a result. That said, a Ford Fiesta feels more agile still, and the Corsa struggles to stay settled over lumps and bumps in and around town like a Polo.
So, the Vauxhall Corsa comes with strong but efficient engines, is good to drive and is generously equipped. That said, if you prioritise comfort or interior design, there are better choices.
If you don’t, check out our Vauxhall Corsa deals pages for the very best prices or read our in-depth Vauxhall Corsa interior review for more information.
Common Vauxhall Corsa questions
Is the Vauxhall Corsa a reliable car?
The current, fifth-generation Vauxhall Corsa was only launched in 2019, so it’s really too early to pass judgement on its reliability. A small number of cars built between September and December 2019 have been recalled for a fault with the steering column, but we aren’t aware of any other issues.
The current Corsa shares much with the Peugeot 208; though it has had a very poor reputation for reliability in the past, the French manufacturer has worked hard in recent years to improve its performance on that front and reports suggest it has been largely successful.
Older generations of Corsa usually performed pretty poorly in customer satisfaction surveys; though the cars had their problems, their low scores had as much to do with the dealers.
Which is better – Corsa or Fiesta?
The Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta have been duking it out the top of the UK’s sales charts for nearly 30 years. And the Fiesta has consistently won. That remains the case; though the current, seventh-generation Fiesta has been around since 2017, it’s outselling the more recent, fifth-generation Corsa.
The Corsa is a good car and it actually betters the Fiesta on some fronts; its infotainment system is easier to use and it has a bigger boot. But if love driving, the Fiesta is the better car – it’s so much fun to drive.
Two adults will have no issues in the front, but space in the back is more limited. The Corsa’s boot is also average in size for the class.
Space in the Vauxhall Corsa is a bit of a mixed bag. Two adults will have no problems getting comfortable in the front seats and the driver gets a decent amount of standard manual seat and wheel adjustment. If you’re more than six-feet tall, you may find your knees are rather close to some hard plastic under the steering wheel, however.
Adults in the back seats will find their knees brushing the front seatbacks and their heads touching the ceiling – especially if you try to carry three in the back at once. There’s enough space for three kids to sit fairly comfortably, but adults will rub shoulders more than in the VW Polo.
The standard Isofix mounts on the outside rear seats are easy to locate, though, but the Vauxhall Corsa’s rather small rear doors and fairly low roofline make it a bit tricky to lift in a bulky rear-facing child seat. You may need to push the front seats forward to accommodate a particularly large child seat, though.
All told, a VW Polo is much better at accommodating people in the back.
The Corsa’s front door bins will easily accept a 1.5-litre bottle of water, the two cupholders are a good size and there’s a shallow cubby beneath the front armrest. The glovebox is very stingy, mind you, and the storage tray under the dashboard lacks a rubberised base to stop small items, such as keys or a phone, from sliding around.
In the back, the door bins are smaller but they’ll still take a one-litre bottle. There are no pockets on the backs of the front seats, though, and there’s no option for a rear armrest or cupholders.
The Vauxhall Corsa has 309 litres of bootspace, which is on par with most alternatives. To put it into context, it’s slightly larger than the boot in a Ford Fiesta, but around 10% smaller than the boots in the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza.
If you need more space, the Corsa’s rear seats split in a 60:40 configuration and fold almost flat, although even then a VW Polo offers more space with its own rear seats folded.
There’s quite a pronounced lip at the entrance to the Corsa’s boot to lift your bags over, but the access is good via the opening and once your bags are inside the space on offer is a usefully square shape – albeit without any handy extras such as hooks, lashing points or 12v sockets.
There isn’t any underfloor storage, or anywhere to put the parcel shelf if you need to remove it, and you can’t lift the boot floor up to make it easier to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
The Vauxhall Corsa is good to drive and has strong yet efficient engines on offer. It can get a little bumpy on lumpy roads around town, though.
You can get the Vauxhall Corsa with petrol, diesel and pure-electric power. A 75hp 1.2-litre petrol engine kicks off the range, although it’s rather slow so is only worth considering if you spend most of your time driving in town.
A better bet is the turbocharged 100hp version of the same engine, which handles motorway slip-road sprints and lets you overtake slow-moving traffic more easily, without using significantly more fuel. You should see it return more than 40mpg if you drive carefully.
There’s also a 1.5 diesel that produces 102 hp and returns even better fuel economy. It’s much noisier than the petrol engines – especially when you accelerate hard – and isn’t worth considering unless you’re constantly doing long journeys on the motorway. If that’s you, though, a healthy 60mpg is more likely.
Like the Peugeot 208, the Vauxhall Corsa is also available as a pure-electric car. It has a 136hp electric motor, will do 205 miles on a full charge and you can charge it from 10-80% in 30 minutes with the right charging equipment, making it a great choice for those who mainly cover short distances.
Entry-level petrol models get a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a six-speed manual comes with the 100hp 1.2 and 1.5 diesel. Both are fairly notchy to use. An eight-speed automatic gearbox can be had with the punchier petrol model, which is much slicker to use and better suited to driving in heavy traffic as a result.
Despite being largely the same underneath, the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa feel distinctly different to drive. The Corsa’s steering feels more direct to starters, and it generally turns into corners with more gusto, meaning it’ll put a bigger grin on your face along a country road. That said, a Ford Fiesta is still the most fun you can have in a small car.
This is especially true in SRi versions, which have stiffer suspension and a Sport driving mode that improves throttle response, quickens the automatic gearbox and adds weight to the steering.
Where the Corsa and 208 are more similar is their tendency to feel unsettled over lumps and bumps at low speeds, such as along your local high street. You’d never call the Vauxhall Corsa uncomfortable, but it struggles to sponge away potholes and manhole covers as well as a VW Polo.
Still, the Corsa is better at speed on the motorway, where it remains nicely planted in its lane and doesn’t kick up much wind or road noise. Vauxhall also includes safety equipment like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition and lane assist to take the stress out of long drives.
There aren’t too many blindspots for you to worry about, either, but the pillars beside the Vauxhall Corsa’s rear windscreen can present a slight problem during tricky reversing manoeuvres or when you’re making sure it’s safe to change lanes in traffic.
The Vauxhall Corsa gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but its infotainment screen isn’t the best and its interior is pretty unexciting.