SINCE the spring of 1993 there has been a Corsa in the Vauxhall stable.
Created to replace the Nova supermini at the time, this latest General Motors hatchback came with an assortment of quite lively engines, serviceable build quality and some pretty good interior space for its size.
However, despite being reliable and cheap to run, Corsa MK I didn’t match the likes of the Peugeot 106 or Ford Fiesta for refinement and handling, qualities which buyers had to wait until the autumn of the year 2000 to appreciate in the second generation model.
The original Corsas were also practical and reliable but certainly not stylish and Vauxhall has now introduced eye-catching good looks into the MK III range, the designers putting on the style with a host of dynamic design cues to complement some fine build quality.
The new Corsa comes in three or five-door mode, the latter enjoying its very own stylish profile and, while the three-door model features a coupe-like roofline and high shoulder-line, at the rear, butch wheel arches and a distinctive tapered window give the three-door derivative an even more striking appearance.
There are a quartet of petrol engines on offer, from the 1.0-litre 58bhp 12-valver and the 1.2-litre 78bhp 16-valver through the 1.4-litre 88bhp 16-valver before topping out at the 1.6-litre 148bhp turbo.
Diesel power comes courtesy of 1.3-litre 16-valve CDTIs developing 74bhp and 89bhp respectively plus a 1.7-litre 123bhp oil burner while pretty generous trim levels comprise Expression, Life, Club, Design, SXi and SRi, plus there is the customary hot hatch, the Corsa VXR.
Driven here is the Corsa Club three-door model which includes the likes of electrically operated front windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, curtain airbags, a radio/CD player with MP3 compatability and steering wheel-mounted controls all as standard.
However, while driver safety aids include ABS braking with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Cornering Brake Control, air conditioning isn't available until the Design-trimmed model.
Inside the previous Corsa’s dated looks have been consigned to the scrap bin with the new model looking extremely modern and stylish. Plenty of imagination has gone into the materials and colours but, while the switchgear operates with precision, some drivers may still find the indicator stalks take a little getting used to.
The rather wide windscreen pillars may also prove to be something of a handicap to some drivers. However, new Corsa’s big-car feel continues throughout the cabin with superior quality fixtures and fittings adding to the feeling of refinement.
Although the five-door derivative is sufficiently spacious to be a family car, the three-door model proves more accommodating as a four-seater.
Both models have good amounts of boot space ranging from 285 litres with all seats taken to a maximum of 700 litres. There is also an underfloor storage area and the option of Vauxhall’s Flex-Fix integrated rear carrier which can carry up to two bicycles or be stowed neatly into the back bumper when not in use.
Powered by the 1.3-litre diesel engine and paired with a slick-switching five-speed manual gear change, the Corsa Club stands in imposing fashion. On the move, the 1.3 diesel delivers 0-60mph in a conservative 13.6 seconds while it can average more than 60mpg.
On the road the new Corsa’s body is significantly stiffer than the outgoing model and the car is good to drive while delivering a comfortably supple and refined ride in all parts.
Overall, this extremely classy new Corsa ticks all the right boxes delivering some extremely user-friendly ownership costs courtesy of agreeable mpg, a user-friendly CO2 rating level and group 3 insurance grouping.