The perky 1.0-litre petrol engine is a fabulous all-rounder but the lowered sports suspension in high-spec cars can make the Corsa feel a bit jittery around town
You can get the Corsa with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is the pick of the range. It’s quiet and smooth around town, more than perky enough for the odd motorway trip and relatively frugal, too. Vauxhall claims it’ll return 61.4mpg but you can expect to see around 50mpg in normal driving conditions.
You’ll want to consider the 1.3-litre diesel if you do lots of motorway miles. Avoid the basic 75hp model and go for the 95hp version – it’ll cruise along happily at motorway speeds and returns around 65mpg compared to Vauxhall’s claimed 85.6mpg. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive than the smaller petrol and much louder when you accelerate hard.
Few cars are as easy to drive as the Vauxhall Corsa – no wonder you see so many of them plastered with L plates then…
The five-speed manual gearbox in diesel models is a little vague but the 1.0-litre petrol model’s six speed is precise and easy to use. You can get a five-speed automatic gearbox to give your left leg a rest on long journeys but it’s only available on diesel and 1.4-litre petrol models where it’ll set you back an extra £750.
For hot hatch thrills, you can get a 1.6-litre turbo petrol VXR version. This 205hp pocket rocket will blast from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds but costs significantly more to buy and run – even with a light touch on the accelerator you’ll struggle to crack 30mpg.
The Corsa’s a breeze to drive around town. Its controls are light and its small size makes it easy to thread through tight city streets. There’s even a special City Mode for the steering that makes turning the wheel especially easy – ideal for rapid three-point turns.
Parking’s a doddle thanks to the large rear windscreen and standard parking sensors on SE and Elite versions. To help make it even easier you can get a reversing camera for £250 on all but entry-level cars and a system that’ll steer for you into parallel and bay spaces for £660 on Energy models and above.
It’s not quite as comfortable around town as the VW polo but the Vauxhall’s suspension does a good job of softening the thud from monster potholes. It doesn’t feel quite as eager as a Fiesta on a country road but it has plenty of grip and doesn’t lean too much in tight corners so your passengers shouldn’t feel car sick on long journeys.
There’s a little more wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds than you’ll hear in the Polo but at least the Corsa comes with cruise control as standard to help make long drives as relaxing as possible.
The Corsa scored a fair four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2014 but it’s worth noting that the tests have been made much stricter since then. As a result, newer five-star-rated cars – such as the five-star-rated Ford Fiesta – will offer significantly more protection in a crash.
For a little extra peace of mind, you can get traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and a system that’ll warn you if you’re driving too close to the car in front on all but entry-level cars for £660.