THREE minutes. That’s all it took to decide this is the BEST CORSA EVER.
Actually, I’ll go further. It trumps the 208, Polo and Ibiza. And it goes straight on to my small car podium alongside the Fiesta and Clio.
I drove a prototype Corsa in May and back then I thought, “Hmmm, this is a bit of all right.”
Now I’ve just driven the finished article and it is exactly what I’d hoped.
It’s not just the handling, or the ride quality, or the peppy engine, or the body control, or the lightness, or the low driving position, it’s the combination of all of those things added together.
This little Vauxhall is a joy to drive. And cracking value, too.
Now you should know that Corsa and 208 have the same French parents.
Give both cars an X-ray and they are 97 per cent identical under the skin. Except they’re not. Vauxhall has tuned the Corsa specifically for us Brits by tweaking the suspension and steering to give it a slightly firmer ride and make it feel more game.
Go for the SRi and you’ll find the front suspension mounts have been reinforced with tie rods for a sharper turn-in. Peugeot hasn’t done this — but it should.
Pop it in Sport mode for even meatier steering and you’re golden.
As for looks, the Corsa won’t turn heads like a 208 — not much does — and the interior isn’t as snazzy.
But I prefer the simplicity of the Corsa cabin. Normal knobs for air con and volume, normal steering wheel. Peugeot is obsessed with piano keys and go-kart-sized tillers these days.
But all the tech — 7 or 10in touchscreen depending on trim, Apple CarPlay, cruise control and so on — are lifted straight from 208. As are the engines.
You can pick petrol, diesel or fully electric at your local dealer like choosing the wheels and paint.
The entry Corsa SE starts at £15,550 and is powered by a 75hp non-turbo petrol 1.2. That’s your L-plate car.
I’d have the £18,700 SRi for all the reasons above, plus the natty black roof and sporty seats. It’s 100hp, turbo, manual, and full of character.
If you’d prefer an auto, go for the £18,860 SE Premium. That is also 100hp, smooth and easy around town, but a little slower because of the extra weight.
Vauxhall isn’t taking the 130hp 1.2 from the 208, which is a shame because the chassis can easily handle it. And a lot more besides. There WILL be a hot VXR by this time next year but only with batteries as an electric car.
I’ve got just enough room to tell you about the fancy new LED matrix headlights on the top-spec Corsa. They’re ace. They light up the road in front of you like spotlamps on a rally car.
As I said, three minutes down a soggy B-road on a Tuesday night, full beam on, and I knew this was the best Corsa ever. It’s all about the feel. Well played, Vauxhall.
KEY FACTS: VAUXHALL CORSA SRi
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petro
Power: 100hp, 205Nm
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 121mph