Our Fleet Test Drive: Vauxhall Corsa - Final Report
15 October 2007
Author: John Mahoney
It won't beat a Porsche off the lights but our long-term Vauxhall has been a pleasure in which to do business. Downsizing has its upsides
Estate agents aside, for most, driving a supermini means one of two things: either your regular car is undergoing complex cosmetic surgery at the local bodyshop, or you're on holiday.
In both cases the arrival of the loaner or Sunshine Rentals finest has always been more purgatory than pleasure, but no more. Big things are happening to small cars: they're now a whole lot better.
Case in point is the new Vauxhall Corsa that has adapted to the downsizing culture by offering more space, a big car ride, sharp handling and an interior of real quality, but how does that work in the real world?
We've just spent six months finding out and have come away surprised at how close such a low-cost option came to matching the talented bigger hatch it replaced.
Our car, a Club a/c, a designation that means our car gets aircon, didn't seem especially cheap, especially with the £350 sparkling paint option, but look closer and that Club spec brings with it side and curtain airbags as standard. Sadly, ESP costs £400, as does swapping boring wheel trims for snazzier alloys. Our car did without either.
Unsurprisingly, a light clutch and super light steering, plus compact dimensions meant in the city the Corsa was king, yet on motorways and fast A-roads it wasn't far behind its bigger competition. Tall gearing also stopped the petite Corsa from turning into a droning pain, although, predictably, with just 80PS on tap from an ever-willing 1.2 that just got sweeter with miles, some of the diesel lovers among us complained about how hard the it needed to be worked to make adequate progress. This also took its toll on fuel consumption. We rarely broke 40mpg and had to settle for just under 38mpg as an average.
The diesel debate was also fuelled by the consultation on a CO2-based London congestion charge. If it goes ahead the 1.3 CDTi would slip under the net while our car would cop the full £8, meaning the CDTi's premium would be swallowed in six months of driving in the zone. But all in all Vauxhall's tiniest fleet contender has earned a huge amount of respect as a tough, durable, economical, efficient and fun way of doing business.