Staying the Corsa

In improved third generation guise, Vauxhall’s Corsa supermini finally justifies its strong sales figures on genuine merit, good looks and slick design also matched in this version by more efficient engines and a sharper driving experience.

There’s never been too much wrong with the way a Corsa responds: it just wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. And with ‘ordinary’ being something that Vauxhall isn’t too comfortable with these days, things had to change. With this improved third generation model, that seems to be happening. The enhancements themselves don’t sound too huge - tweaked power steering for more driving ‘feel’, plus revisions to springs, dampers and anti-roll bars - but together, they add up to quite a lot. Not quite enough to make this as sharp as a Fiesta but very close while, at the same time, providing a more relaxed, family-friendly drive.

The improvements to the ‘driving experience’ are significant. The previously over-light electric power steering now decently communicates what the front wheels are doing. As for the spring and damper tweaks, the chassis feels slightly more supple than before, the ride remains on the firm side.

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Vauxhall has re-fettled virtually all the engines on offer. Which is perhaps just as well in the case of the necessary in case of the1.2-litre petrol unit under the bonnet of the model driven here which previously would have sometimes struggled a little faced with the task of hauling up to 1244kgs of fully-laden Corsa. A small but useful 5PS improvement now gives an output of 85PS which makes progress a little more relaxed.

The third generation Corsa has real visual impact. Though it shares its platform, suspension and steering with Fiat’s Grande Punto, there’s a very different look and feel, the front end featuring a deep Vauxhall V-grille with aggressive air intakes under the bumper and a pair of headlamps that smear back along the wings. Though both three and five-door bodystyles occupy pretty much the same footprint on the road, Vauxhall has tried to give them each their own separate appeal, though the three-door tested here does look a little sleeker with its rear wheelarch bulges and raked rear window.

It’s clear that this Corsa’s crucial for Vauxhall. Hence their decision to move it forward from middle-of-the-road mediocrity with this well-judged package of improvements. Cleaner, greener and better to drive, it now either matches or beats most more recently launched rivals.

And the things we liked about this car at its original launch are still in place: the sharp looks, the classy cabin, the big-car feel. Add to that the wide range available and the likely deals on offer and you’ve a supermini that more than ever, needs to remain high on any family’s shopping list.