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Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi SRi VX Line three-door review

Deeply impressive fuel economy and emissions figures prove easy to achieve

April 2015

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

4 out of 5 stars

Likes:

  • Deeply impressive fuel economy and emissions figures prove easy to achieve
  • Striking styling will appeal to the young target audience
  • Rich array of technology is reminiscent of larger cars
  • Light-feeling and nimble on the road

Likes:

  • Small wheels dampen the effect of the overall look
  • Interior quality leaves room for improvement
  • Small engine can feel out of its depth on faster roads
  • High list price competes with larger and more spacious cars in same class

This generation of Corsa has won acclaim thanks to its combination of trim grades and engine line-up, with diesel models generally well thanks to their persuasive running costs. The new figurehead of those diesel Corsas is this, the sporty-looking SRi VX Line.

Combining aggressive body styling with an unashamedly frugal engine in a small hatchback is nothing new. More than a decade ago Skoda created the Fabia vRS, for example, but while that was a hot hatch, here Vauxhall has created an economical supermini that simply looks more the part than most.

If the fuel economy offered by the likeable 1.3-litre diesel engine is arresting on its own, the appeal of the factory body kit will surely strike even truer at the hearts of the young drivers that Vauxhall is targeting. The car makes an insurance-savvy concession by leaving relatively small alloy wheels, but it still makes an impression.

Against increasingly diverse competitors the Corsa has found itself in the popular middle ground, being good to drive as well as affordable. It can't and doesn't offer the level of interior quality found in some of its rivals, but it does offer impressive fuel economy in diesel guise.

As a high-grade trim, SRi VX Line includes technology like a central touch-screen through which media playback can be managed. The amount of gadgets can't create a true luxury feel, but many young buyers will see this as an extension of technology that they already use daily on their smartphone or tablet.

Our verdict on the Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi SRi VX Line three-door

While the material quality of the Corsa doesn't match some of its more premium rivals, the combination of high fuel economy and an exterior that stands out among its peers is hard to argue against. On paper and in practice, this version of the Corsa is extremely rewarding.

Costs

Insurance is reasonable even for young or inexperienced drivers, and refuelling stops should be few and far between. Don't expect the car to retain a huge chunk of its value come resale as the overall volumes are just too high. That said, standard kit levels are now much higher than previously, which should make the ownership experience more rewarding.

Space and practicality

An average-size boot for the class is big enough to reward the determined, in that with careful bag selection and considered packing you can squeeze far more into it than might be expected. The cabin also has a fairly average array of storage solutions, but owners will rarely want for more cupholders or places to throw receipts or car park tickets.

Controls and display

The obvious centrepiece from a display point of view is the central touch-screen, which does a good job of relaying information but isn't especially sharp, renders blacks as mid-grey and at night is simply too bright no matter what you do with it. The basic car controls and ancillaries are chunky and feel robust enough in their actions.

Comfort

The driver and a front passenger should find all the space they could ever wish for in a supermini. Rear occupants might feel a little enclosed by the three-door layout, especially if seated behind a long-legged driver. It would be incorrect to say the Corsa rides very well, and the jolts through the cabin when it strikes potholes are no worse than in most of its rivals.

Car security

Locking wheel bolts are standard at VX Line level, which should prevent opportunist thieves stealing the wheels. All Corsas have an electronic immobiliser and remote-control central locking. The Corsa has never rated as one of the hardest vehicles to steal, but it has benefited from a trickle effect where systems from pervious generations of larger cars have filtered down to it.

Car safety

There is a limit to how much of the very latest safety equipment manufacturers can add to superminis before their prices are pushed too high, but the Corsa squeezes an impressive amount in beneath its bodywork. Active stability control and braking assist systems are among the highlights, while a tyre pressure monitoring system is now standard.

Driver appeal

While the light but precise steering gives an immediate sense of eagerness and agility, the fuel consumption readout on the trip computer display quickly makes the biggest impression. Enjoying the Corsa's nimble handling is easy when high miles per gallon come so effortlessly. This higher-powered version of the 1.3-litre diesel engine has plenty of punch around town but can feel overwhelmed at A-road and motorway speeds.

Family car appeal

Many families run superminis as second cars, so this could be a natural contender to fill the spare space on the driveway. In three-door form it is very difficult to fit some kinds of child seat, though, and parents picking kids up from school or events might find themselves constantly having to get out to let passengers in and out. A five-door version would be more appropriate.

First car appeal

The Corsa is an ideal first car, and as a high-end model the VX Line might well be the target for many youngsters with disposable income. Its bodywork is aggressive enough to satisfy style hunters and those looking for kerb appeal to impress their friends with, but at the same time this model's ultra-low running costs make it budget-friendly - as long as the purchase price isn't too problematic.

Quality and image

The Corsa is a much-loved institution in Britain. Many have learned their craft in various generations of the car, and many of those maintain a soft spot for it. However, the material quality evident in the car could be closer to that of some of its rivals at the same price point.

Accessibility

Here the two passenger doors are very long, which is a good thing to allow rear passengers more room to step in past the forward-folded front seats. But it also means that getting such long doors open wide enough for a driver to get in can be tricky in itself when there is little room beside the car. The seat belts are located a long arm's reach away, which can be especially awkward for people who prefer to sit closer to the wheel.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The audio system has been gifted a new lease of life by its various input options and a much-improved touch-screen interface. There are USB and auxiliary sockets through which MP3 players can be connected, as well as Bluetooth wireless connection capability. The small speakers are concentrated on locations towards the front of the cabin.

Colours and trim

As befits a sporty-looking model there are several brighter body colours to choose from, including a yellow and a vibrant green. These, red and black are arguably the shades that best suit this Corsa's three-door body style and emphasise its best aesthetic features. The interior trim is a little disappointing in material quality despite the added sporty focus.

Parking

The Corsa has naturally light steering, which makes low-speed manoeuvres very easy. In fact, the standard addition of a function to lighten the wheel even further is likely to see little action. The turning circle could perhaps be better but the car's dimensions are so compact that it repeatedly proves simple to slot it into spaces.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (69bhp); 1.4-litre (89bhp); 1.4-litre turbo (99bhp); 1.0-litre turbo (113bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.3-litre (74bhp, 94bhp). Transmission options: five and six-speed manual gearbox depending on model, plus six-speed auto gearbox (1.4-litre 89bhp petrol only). Trim levels: Excite, Sting, Sting R, SE, Design, SRi, SRi VX Line, Life.