The Vauxhall Corsa is Britain’s second-best-selling car, consistently coming in behind its arch-nemesis, the Ford Fiesta. However, a stream of tempting finance offers, combined with desirable special editions, could make the Vauxhall Corsa a very sensible proposition for those looking for an affordable supermini.
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The Corsa Red Edition is a warm version, designed to appeal to young buyers who’d like a degree of performance but can’t afford the running costs of the full-fat Corsa VXR. We’ve spent a week with it on UK roads to find out whether you should spend your money on one.
Prices and deals
The Vauxhall Corsa Red Edition starts at a hefty £17,920 for the three-door, and £18,520 for the five-door. That’s hard to stomach when the VXR costs £18,925 – and you get a significantly hotter Corsa for the money. No one pays full retail price for a Corsa, though, and a search on Auto Trader reveals dealers offering pre-registered examples for around £14,000.
What are its rivals?
The Red Edition squares up against the 140hp Ford Fiesta ST-Line, which costs £17,195 – and, naturally, we also find ourselves thinking we’d beg and borrow the extra £700 for the brilliant Fiesta ST. There are no shortage of warm rivals in the supermini segment – including the 150hp SEAT Ibiza FR, which starts at £17,045 in three-door SC guise.
What engine does it use?
Under the bonnet of the Vauxhall Corsa Red Edition, you’ll find a turbocharged four-cylinder 1.4-litre petrol engine you’ll find in lesser Corsas. It’s also used in the Vauxhall Adam S in the same 150hp guise as featured here.
It’s not set-your-pants-on-fire fast, hitting 62mph in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. For comparison, the Ford Fiesta ST-Line takes 9.0 seconds and tops out at 125mph, while the Vauxhall Corsa VXR completes the 0-62mph sprint in 6.8 seconds before reaching 143mph. That’s helped by a 205hp 1.6-litre turbo engine, though.
Will I enjoy driving it?
While it won’t thrill boy racers in the same way as the Corsa VXR does, driving the Red Edition is ultimately an enjoyable experience. A decent 162lb ft of torque means it feels quicker than you might expect – especially if you keep it in its peak rev range at 2,750 – 4,500rpm, while the steering is well-weighted and direct (if not a patch on the Fiesta’s).
The suspension is much more compliant than its hairy-chested sibling. But the downside of that is the body-roll, should you attempt to chuck it around in a ‘VXR’ manner. Despite its lowered suspension, it’s not a proper hot hatch in the handling stakes.
Fuel economy and running costs
This is where the Corsa Red Edition starts to make sense. Not only does it offer an enjoyable driving experience, it also returns a combined 49.6mpg, while CO2 emissions are 132g/km. Vauxhall servicing is reasonable, too, and we don’t foresee any major repair bills further down the line.
What’s the interior like?
Bar a splash of red across the dash and a set of aluminium pedals, it’s business as usual inside the Corsa Red. That means a comfortable driving position, easy-to-find switchgear and a large, simple infotainment screen in the centre of the dash. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with the Corsa’s interior, we wonder if it could have been made a bit more special for the Red Edition. Is some red stitching on the seats and steering wheel too much to ask?
Is it comfortable?
The Corsa Red Edition isn’t uncomfortable, although we’d feel more inclined to drive it in a spirited manner if there was more side support from the seats. In three-door guise, adult passengers in the rear might not be that happy, either…
Is it practical?
With the rear seats in place, boot space comes in at 280 litres. That’s pretty typical for a supermini, coming in 10 litres below the Fiesta and 12 litres smaller than the Ibiza. Access is slightly limited, however – the opening is pretty narrow, which could make squeezing in wider items a challenge.
Tell me about the tech
All Vauxhall Corsas come with the firm’s IntelliLink infotainment system as standard. The latest version of this includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to mirror your phone through the car’s seven-inch touchscreen and access apps on the move. It also means you can use Google or Apple Maps for navigation.
What about safety?
When the Vauxhall Corsa was tested by Euro NCAP in 2014, it achieved a four-star Euro NCAP rating. It scored well for adult and child occupants, with the only let-down being its lack of active safety technology, such as an autonomous city braking system.
Which version should I go for?
If you’re wanting a hot (or warm) Corsa, you’ll be looking at the Red Edition or the VXR hot hatch. For those old enough for insurance not to be a huge concern, the VXR is definitely the daddy – but the Red Edition does offer some benefits aside from its lower running costs. The ride is lovely, something that can’t be said for the VXR. And the Red Edition could prove to be less irksome under day-to-day use than the VXR.
What’s the used alternative?
On the second-hand market, you can pick up a year-old example of the latest VXR for as little as £12,000. That saving will go a long way towards the extra running costs. Alternatively, the previous-generation VXR starts at £3,500, while sporty-looking special editions are available to suit all budgets. There’s been a market for warm Vauxhall Corsas ever since the model replaced the Nova in the UK in 1993.
Should I buy one?
If you have around £17,000 to spend on a warm supermini and don’t want the fuss associated with a Corsa VXR or Fiesta ST, then yes, you should buy a Red Edition. It looks good, the running costs are relatively affordable and you’ll enjoy owning it. But when the ‘full-fat’ models are so nearly within reach, we’d be tempted to hold out.
When the 2014 Vauxhall Corsa was revealed at that year’s Paris Motor Show, many criticised it for being little more than a facelift over the previous model. But, despite being based on the same architecture, not a single body panel was carried over. The interior was a big improvement, too – and the latest Corsa genuinely gives the (soon-to-be-replaced) Fiesta a hard time.