Car Test   R0274
October 2002
  Vauxhall Corsa
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.0 Eco 5 door
Anyone contemplating a high annual mileage should be concerned with fuel costs. Of course, most who fit into this category consider diesel these days, but the trouble is that one invariably has to pay more to begin with, to save in service.
   Take the Corsa 1.7 diesels, for example. The lower-powered Di/65bhp version in Club trim, carries a £500 premium compared with this 1.0 Eco – and that’s disregarding this petrol version’s standard Easytronic transmission.
   We haven’t tested the 65bhp diesel, but there’s only a one-second difference in acceleration, through the gears, compared with the 75bhp engine listed in the rivals table – with no difference in the combined mpg figures, either. So, it’s safe to assume that the extra £500 will reward you with much better performance and economy than this 1.0 Eco could manage in this test, conducted in ideal conditions with properly metered mpg results.
   What bare figures don’t convey, however, is the smoother, quieter nature of this friendly little three-cylinder engine, whether ambling through slow traffic or galloping along the motorway. And that’s before the clever auto shift, clutchless gearbox is taken into account.
   Easytronic, in all honesty, isn’t as slick or as smooth as a conventional torque converter-type automatic, but at under half the price and with performance and economy as good as the manual version’s, we’re not complaining. Indeed, you learn to acquire a deft pleasure in using it as a clutchless manual when changing up – but relying on it to continue to downshift by itself, as you slow down or stop.
   We feel that most drivers wouldn’t change up as early as this Eco, in autoshift mode – but that’s all part of the quest for fuel saving. Mostly it works although there are times when it bites off more than it can chew on an up-gradient, then belatedly changes down two ratios. On the whole, our tests revealed a further 2 per cent/1mpg was possible using manual hold and best technique – but that’s all.
   Incidentally, the selector is delightful to use – rather better than the indifferent manual gearchange on most Corsas.
   It has to be said that, front seats excepted, the Corsa doesn’t cosset in any respect. Rear accommodation, trim details and ride comfort all prove somewhat mediocre. The model comes out well in matters of safety and security, however.
   We’re also impressed by the straightforward under-bonnet access. There’s a lack of complexity, compared with a modern turbo-diesel that bodes well for longer-term, higher-mileage maintenance costs; neither does insurance come any cheaper than this.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • press on main lighting switch for roof lamp
  • sensible spinal support and seat comfort
  • beam trimmer and dial dimmer set apart
  • screen/face vents work simultaneously
  • shopping bag hooks in boot
  • mirrors flop out of adjustment if doors slammed
  • headlamps flicker when gearshifting
  • no wheel adjuster on lower-range models
  • accelerator too high and close - poor thigh support
This Corsa Eco could be dismissed as an also-ran. It’s performance demands that you follow trucks rather than overtake them and its automatic-on-the-cheap gearbox can be criticised by casual users. The answer on both counts is that this small car has something else in mind – low costs; not just to fuel, but also to buy and to maintain. Perhaps the whole concept would make even more sense in the Agila.

engine 973cc, 3-cylinder, petrol; 58bhp at 5600rpm, 63 lb ft at 3800rpm; chain-driven double overhead camshafts, 12 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 22.2mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.7 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs.
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
  steering electric power assistance; 2.9 turns lock-to-lock; 10.35m diameter turning circle between kerbs (14.75m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear (ABS optional extra - not fitted)   wheels/tyres 5.5in steel with 175/65R14T tyres (Continental Contact Eco on test car); full-size spare

size and type 3 and 5 door supermini, mid-priced   trim levels Club/GLS, Comfort, Elegance, SXi, SRi
engines petrol: 3 cylinder/1.0 litre/58bhp, 4/1.2/75; 4/1.4/90; 4/1.8/125
diesel: 4/1.7/65 or 75
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual; (auto shift synchromesh option on 1.2; 4-speed with torque converter on 1.4)

HOW THE CORSA ECO COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Vauxhall Corsa Eco 1.0 3/973/58 3160 19.9 36.2/58.1 50.5/118 28/28 106 95/70 2.9/10.4 382
Daihatsu Sirion 1.3 4/1298/102 3450 9.5 20.5/25.9 47/134 13/27.5 105 93/65 3.6/9.3 368
Toyota Yaris 1.0 4/998/68 3850 14.8 23.3/32.5 47/137 12/26.5 105 102/70+ 3.3/10.1 362
VW Polo 1.2 S 3/1198/65 3800 17.3 23.5/30.6 41/144 18/26 108 96/71 2.9/10.2 390
Fiat Seicento 1.1 SX 4/1108/54 3150 17.0 25.5/37.0 49.5/143 25/30 103 82/61 3.2/9.0 334
Vauxhall Corsa 1.7 DTi~ 4/1686/75 2850 12.7 16.3/22.8 57.5/126 14/24 106 95/70 2.9/10.4 382
  + rear seat fully back  ~ diesel

Clear displays, except for bulky wheel boss that blocks view of gear ratio read out, when turning. Club has few adjusters and accelerator too close for comfort, but a supportive seat otherwise. Nice gear selector action - better than manual.
Grippy and poised cornering and this car's steering felt better than previous ones - quite a common problem with electric power-assistance is an inert feel from straight ahead.
Bump suppression acceptable and front seats help, as well. Not so good in the back. Three-pot engine quite flexible and uncomplaining - even at 70mph it's not obtrusive. No air-con, but heater works adequately.

Only ideal weather made 30-70mph in top measurable on a mile straight. Doleful acceleration compared with the 1.7DTi or anything else - but then the Eco has another priority.......
  acceleration in seconds auto shift 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 5.6 no no
  30-50mph 6.8 16.4 24.4
  40-60mph 9.7 17.5 26.5
  50-70mph 13.1 19.8 33.7
  30-70mph 19.9 36.2 58.1
  max speed in each gear (* using auto shift to 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      27      51.5      77      97      94 (4250rpm)

Slow maybe (and nowhere near as economical as 'official' figures suggest) but still hits top-spot in our book, especially for a full-size supermini. Cheap road tax and insurance, as well.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 31
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 40
    motorway (70mph cruising) 49
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 52
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 60.5
    overall mpg 50.5
    realistic tank capacity/range 37/410
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 43.5/70.6/57.6
    CO2 emissions 118g/km
    car tax band A

No ABS but sensible servo makes it easier to panic-stop without skidding; some fade under duress, though. Satisfactory NCAP result (for occupants) although no passenger airbag.
  1.2 3-door
  from 50mph (without ABS)
front impact     69%
side impact     78%
overall     74%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     32.5m
sudden 28kg     28m best stop
+ 4kg 32kg     30.5m (wheels skidding)
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Like Punto, this Corsa has less rear space than before, but two-position and split rear backrests help adaptability. Five-door offers better rear vision, although head restraints don't help. Shorter length outside than some rivals - helps when parking.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 382
  width - including mirrors 196
    - mirrors folded 167
  height (no roof bars) 143
  load sill height (inside/outside) 24/66
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.35
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-106
    - headroom 95-100§
  rear - typical legroom 95
    - typical kneeroom 70
    - headroom 93§
    - hiproom 126
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 55-122
  load length to facia no
  load width 100-109
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 52 87
§ no sunroof

For a budget-trim version, Club has good security features tally - the tailgate can be locked separately, too. Effective at resisting break-in on NCSR score.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
seperately locking tailgate   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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