The Vauxhall Corsa GSi is a car down on power compared to the Ford Fiesta ST, but can the way it drives justify its ambitious £18,995 list price?
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.
A high number of Vauxhall’s popular Corsa and Astra models have been targeted by criminals who steal parts from them before selling them online.
In some cases, owners have reported finding the entire front ends of their cars stolen under the cover of darkness.
Since December, Bedfordshire Police say 22 people have been arrested in relation to thefts of Vauxhall Corsa parts.
In December, a 26-year-old man was charged with handling stolen goods after being linked to a stolen Astra in Luton.
Bedfordshire Police Detective Chief Inspector Ian Middleton said: “We are making significant progress with the assistance of Vauxhall and the use of technology to tackle this prolific problem in Bedfordshire.
“Regrettably the popularity of Vauxhall cars and their Corsa models in particular means that there is still a strong market for stolen vehicle parts and we continue to experience offending. Our message remains the same: We need people to tell us where the outlets for these components are, and I would urge the public only to buy vehicle components from certified vehicle parts stockists.
“We want to increase awareness among the public of these crimes and encourage them to report any illegal or suspicious activity, in order to help us catch those responsible and cut off the practice at its roots.”
Last month, two criminals were arrested for stealing classic Minis across the South East and breaking them for parts, before selling them on eBay.
Just how many small cars does Vauxhall need? It’s got the fashionable Adam, the ‘sporty’ Corsa (their words), and now the sensible and conservative Viva.
There’s clearly a business case for it, though. The A-segment alone has doubled in size since 2005 and now accounts for 10% of new car registrations in the UK.
I recently headed to Vauxhall HQ in Luton for the launch of the Viva. Of course, it’d be rude not to grab the opportunity to drive our long-term Corsa ‘home’, so to speak.
As a result, I got to drive the Corsa and the new Viva back-to-back. They’re not clear rivals – the Viva starts at £7,995 while the Corsa will set you back £9,175 (or £14,460 in SRi VX-Line trim with the 1.0-litre turbo engine).
But, do buyers really stick strictly to segments? Is a Vauxhall salesman really doing his job if he doesn’t try to upsell a potential Viva buyer into the bigger (and pricier) Corsa?
It’s worth doing a quick, unscientific comparison, then.
For a start, the Viva and ‘my’ Corsa have the same 1.0-litre engine. In the Viva, it produces 75hp and accelerates to 62mph in 13.1 seconds. But in the Corsa, it’s turbocharged, producing 115hp and hitting 62mph in 10.3 seconds. It’s surprising what a big difference that 2.8 seconds makes.
After a period of driving the Corsa, it’s an odd sensation driving a Viva with the same engine without the turbo. It drives the same, until the revs rise, and you expect a turbo to kick in. But it doesn’t, and it feels a bit flat.
Vauxhall will tell you that Viva buyers won’t be bothered about its lack of go. And that’s true to a degree. But it gets tiring have to work the Viva quite so hard. If you’re a young person being bought a Viva as your first car, you might want to persuade your parents to dig a deeper for a Corsa.
Both cars have had their handling tuned for UK roads. The Corsa feels sportier – no doubt helped by the sports suspension fitted to our VX-Line model but the Viva rides extremely well.
It doesn’t enjoy being chucked around the same as the Corsa, but on urban streets its narrow dimensions definitely give it an advantage.
So to conclude? If you want a sensible, affordable city car, buy the Viva. If you want something slightly sportier and more enjoyable to drive, buy the Corsa. Er, exactly what Vauxhall said then…
Vauxhall Corsa (2015) long-term review month 1: Is the Corsa’s city steering pointless?
“Only an idiot would need a reversing camera on a small car,” said I, once upon a time.
But then, our long-term Renault Clio had one. And it was brilliant. I could reverse right up to bollards during high-speed parking manoeuvres and look like a driving God. I could even select reverse gear at traffic lights and see the panicked face of the driver behind. It was awesome.
My Corsa hasn’t got a reversing camera. It hasn’t even got sensors. I have to use these old-fashioned things called mirrors and it all seems a bit awkward and a bit like guess-work. I find myself reversing at less than full revs in case I meet the bollard a little too quickly.
“Why it has got is a button on the dash for City Steering? What a pointless feature,” scoffed I, the day I got the car.
The Corsa’s steering isn’t the heaviest as it is, why would you want to make it lighter around town?
Er… you can see what’s coming. Challenged with the slightest of tight parking spaces, or some tricky urban maneuvering, or even a three-point turn, I find myself reaching over to press the city steering button.
What’s the point in wasting energy steering? I can now wind on full lock with all the effort of Floyd Mayweather arm wrestling a toddler.
In the words of Joni Mitchell: “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
- How good is the new Corsa? This good: unless it’s really, really sunny, I’ll much rather take this for a weekend blast than my retro Mazda MX-5…
Introduction: We welcome a Vauxhall Corsa SRi VX-Line to the MR fleet
“I’m getting a Corsa,” I’d say. The person I was chatting to would pull a face. “But I’m looking forward to it. The new Corsa is really rather good.”
It’s a conversation I’ve had a number of times recently. Despite being a massive seller in the UK, the Corsa has never been class-leading, and it’s looked down upon amongst those who care about cars.
When the pictures of the ‘all-new’ 2014 Corsa appeared last year, we sneered. It looked basically the same, with an awkward Adam-esque front end stuck on.
It was with more than a hint of prejudice that I trekked up to Liverpool for the launch of the Corsa last year. But, after a day of giving it a thorough test on the roads of North Wales, I was sold.
It now handled better (not as well as a Fiesta, but close enough for the majority of buyers). The interior was hugely improved, and the new 1.0-litre turbocharged engine… well, what a peach. Good enough to take on the Ford Ecoboost, I announced when I got back to the office.
I’d been wrong to doubt the Corsa. It was now a good car. A car I could almost justify spending my own money on.
So now I’m putting my money where my mouth is, sort of, by taking one on as my daily drive for the next six months, as part of a Motoring Research long-term test.
It’s exactly the spec I’d want – that 1.0T engine, in more potent 115hp form. Its SRi VX-Line spec means it’s got bling 17-inch alloys and lowered suspension. Oh, and you’ll have noticed the colour by now. Lime green. I’m a big advocate of brightly-coloured cars, so this suits me to a tee.
Will my love for the Corsa be as strong six months down the line? Time will tell.
Specification: 2015 Vauxhall Corsa SRi VX-Line 1.0T 115
Price (April 2015): £14,460
Price with options: £15,005 (metallic paint £545)
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Top speed: 121mph
Richard Aucock | April 2015
In a sector dominated by the brilliant Ford Fiesta ST – an unquestionable five-star car – Vauxhall is itching for a fight. And has been to the Nurburgring to up the Corsa’s punch and give it a fighting chance.
Literally, been to the Nurburgring: the Vauxhall/Opel performance car development centre is sited on the other side of the road to Nurburgring’s iconic miles-long straight, led by Volker Strycek, whom history books record as the 1984, and first, DTM champion. Race-bred, ‘Ring-tuned? Literally.
Headline figures first. As standard, it has 205hp and a swelled 180lb ft of torque (with five seconds of overboost). The torque curve is also broader, giving it more meat throughout the rev range. This is good for 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, a 143mph top speed and, more worryingly, a barely-improved 37.7mpg and 174g/km. Only the colour is green for the car pictured here.
While the 1.6-litre turbo has largely been breathed upon (and now breathes far better courtesy of its standard twin-pipe Remus exhaust), the chassis has, by comparison, been totally overhauled. It gets standard (and clever) Koni Frequency Selective Dampers, 10mm lower springs, new bushes, new uprights, a stiffer rear axle, new steering – even the ESC tuning is all-new.
That’s not all. There’s now a £2,400 Performance Pack option that adds more focused Koni FSD dampers, bigger 330mm four-pot Brembo front brakes (they’re 308mm as standard), 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sports plus, deep joy, a mechanical Drexler limited-slip differential. Serious stuff: in a sector where, say, the latest Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo’s softness so disappoints, it’s a refreshingly extreme approach.
Vauxhall believes every other buyer in the UK will go for the Performance Pack and, as the halo car that is appreciably more focused than the standard model, we decided to focus on it for our first drive. As you’ll read, so too should you…
What’s the Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Pack like to drive?
On the road, with initial expectations dampened by the feel-similar interior, it proves a thriller. The bombastic old Corsa VXR Nurburgring and Clubsport models upon which it’s based (and carries a £2,000 price advantage over) were fun but lairy and a bit uncouth. This delivers all the spirit of the old-shape cars but with an unexpected extra slice of sophistication.
Several things stand out. Ride quality for one. We forgive the Fiesta ST’s stiff ride because it’s such a cultured performance car to drive. The Corsa VXR PP shows that tight and occasional harshness perhaps isn’t obligatory. Sure, it’s firm and sporting, but real roughness is kept at bay despite the 18-inch wheels, and body control is very classy. Indeed, thanks to it being tied down a bit more firmly, it’s perhaps more comfortable than the softer, looser standard car here.
The effervescence given to the driving experience by the limited-slip differential is also uniquely welcome. Rivals either don’t bother distributing traction between the front wheels so well, or try to fake it by electronic means. Having such direct, mechanical input is terrifically grin-inducing; floor it into corners, feel the front end pulled into the bend and wrestle with the steering as you straighten up. It’s a blast.
The old Nurburgring had this, but the new VXR PP drops in other new areas of sophistication, such as brake linearity, power delivery, gearbox directness (not Fiesta-crisp but shorter-throw than before), refinement, interior appeal, general composure and even exhaust sound quality. Which makes it as jewel-like as a Fiesta ST, then? Well, not quite.
While undoubtedly exciting, charismatic and very thrilling, the VXR PP doesn’t quite have the subtlety and granularity of the Fiesta. That car rewards even when you’re pootling; this needs to be picked up by the scruff of its neck to excite. It’s cracking fun and very fast – the sweet-spinning engine’s low-rev flexibility is bolstered by a real surge from 4,000rpm to the (strict) 6,500rpm redline for a flood of power – but it’s still a bit blunt if you don’t have the front end and the diff hooked in.
The softness of the straight-ahead steering, fluff in initial brake pedal bite and lack of feel through the accelerator are all things you’d notice if stepping from a Fiesta ST – until, that is, the roads cleared and you got chance to find out where the VXR PP’s strengths lie…
Does the Corsa VXR Performance Pack sock it to the Fiesta ST?
The Fiesta stands proud in this sector of warmer-than-hot rivals. Renault scored an own goal with the Clio 200 Turbo, the Polo GTI is Germanically satisfying and the 208 GTI is nice, but none has the all-encompassing satisfaction delivered by the Fiesta. Neither does the Corsa VXR PP. But it does dish up a bucketload of charisma lacking in its rivals.
That’s enough to see it eyeball the Fiesta, and probably nose ahead for those who value hot hatch staples of exciting looks, street appeal and a marvelous set of seats above Ford’s trick of making a sporty Fiesta feel like a cut-price Porsche.
Look at it, all spoilers, open-spoke 18-inch alloys, branded tyres, brakes and exhausts, Bi-xenon headlights combined with LED running lights and, yes, that slice of air intake at the bonnet’s trailing edge. Showroom appeal: off the scale, and a damn sight more standout than the overfamiliar Fiesta.
The hard-shell Recaros are the same as before and none the worse for that, a flat-bottom steering wheel is neat and the new IntelliLink touchscreen system adds modern app-deep sophistication for free. Yup, impressively, it’s standard.
All this, combined with the fact its right-road, fast-scrabbling bang is so big and buzz-inducing, will be enough to convince some it’s the car for them. We’ll entirely understand this, and appreciate the extra depth of car they’re buying into.
But, for us, it isn’t quite enough to topple the Fiesta’s fully-formed appeal. Even if it does now get our nod over everything else in this thriving sector…
Verdict: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Pack (2015)
The Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Pack takes the highs of the old Nurburgring and Clubsport models, rounds them off, throws in an extra dose of depth and ends up being a cracking supermini hot hatch. Within five minutes of getting in it, we felt we were having the thrilling drive of our life.
The more in-depth reality is that it’s still a little route one, all about the unique front diff, particularly the sharp bite, fearsome traction and, yes, even the firework steering thrills it serves up. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Hot hatches for some are all about controlled explosions and this is the most explosive of the lot.
It’s just that, for us, the fully-formed performance composure of the Fiesta would ultimately be more satisfying, particularly if you’re living with it day to day and want to feel good on a quiet Sunday tour rather than a redline-thwacking, foot-floored-in-second, steering-wheel-fighting magnetic surge around a tight right-hander. But boy, how good it does feel in said tight right-hander…
Rivals: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Pack (2015)
- Ford Fiesta ST
- Volkswagen Polo GTI
- Peugeot 208 GTI
- Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo
- SEAT Ibiza Cupra
The Ford Fiesta ST is the undisputed class leader, sitting far ahead of the rest. The Volkswagen Polo GTI is good, though, and the Peugeot 208 GTI is a nice choice for those seeking a grown-up hot hatch. The Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo simply lacks the fine breeding of earlier models and is thus a disappointment; so too is the Ibiza Cupra.
Specification: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Pack (2015)
Engine 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder
Gearbox Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive (with mechanical LSD)
Price £20,395 (Prices from £17,995)
Torque 180lb ft (280NM)
0-62mph 6.8 seconds (0-60mph: 6.5 seconds)
Top speed 143mph
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It might not look a lot different, but the 2014 Vauxhall Corsa is ready to fight the Ford Fiesta Read more
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