A 99bhp 1.4 gives a good balance of pace and economy
With an all-new model just months away, there are some cracking deals on offer for Vauxhall’s supermini
The Corsa was the UK’s fourth-best-selling new car in June, a position it also holds in the current year-to-date rankings. That’s impressive for a car that, under the skin, dates back to 2006, when it was codenamed the Corsa D.
The model under the microscope here is the Corsa E, launched in 2014. The change of letter suggests it was a lot more than a makeover. In fact, apart from some additional stiffening and revised locations for the suspension pick-up points, the platform was as before.
Where the model’s step up the alphabet was more than justified was in its new engines and revised steering and suspension tailored for British roads but, most noticeable of all, its change of clothes. Apart from the roof, every panel was new. Inside, the car got a new interior featuring soft-touch plastics, better ventilation controls and a smarter music system. All but the most basic models gained Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system.
Click here to buy your next used Corsa from Autocar
Back in 2014, you could have your Corsa with a bewildering range of engines: a couple of naturally aspirated 1.2 and 1.4 petrols, a super-smooth 1.0-litre turbocharged triple in 89bhp and 113bhp outputs, a torquey 1.4 turbo in 99bhp and 148bhp flavours and a pair of fleet-friendly, Euro 6-compliant 1.3 CDTi diesels producing 74bhp and 94bhp. At the top of the pile sat the 202bhp 1.6 turbo in the VXR.
The triples are worth seeking out but, if you want a little more oomph, choose the 99bhp 1.4 turbo.
And then in 2018, they were all replaced by a quartet of Euro 6.2-compliant 1.4 petrol engines producing 74bhp, 89bhp, 99bhp and 148bhp. The 74bhp is plentiful and fine for town but you should hold out for the turbocharged 99bhp unit. The 148bhp engine is brisk but expensive.
At launch, there were no fewer than 11 trims, but by 2018, they had fallen back to around nine, which is where they remain. Avoid the most basic and go mid-range, seeking out a combination of alloy wheels, air conditioning and 7.0in touchscreen featuring IntelliLink. On this basis, the Energy trim level gets our vote. Another is Sport, which is based on Energy and adds sports seats and pedals.
With their special paint schemes, Red and Black Edition cars are fun and Griffin is good value but isn’t available with the later 99bhp 1.4 turbo engine.
Factor in big new car discounts that fuel depreciation and the Corsa is a great used car buy. In fact, it’s a good time to pick up a late-plate model as Vauxhall dealers pre-register stocks to clear the way for the all-new Corsa that’s arriving later this year. For example, you can pick up a 2019/19-reg 1.4i 75PS Design 5dr with zero miles for £11,999, or around £1400 off the best discounted new price. At the other end of the cost spectrum, prices start at around £3500 for a high-mileage 2014 or well-equipped 15-reg Sting 1.4i.
BUYER BEWARERecallsThere have been many ranging from loss of steering control to the handbrake refusing to disengage, so make sure they’ve been actioned.
EngineThe petrol engines suffer timing chain noise, often caused by a worn tensioner. It’s not necessarily terminal but it can get worryingly noisier over time. Full service history is no guarantee but it helps. Misfires may be faulty ignition coils. Replacing the spark plugs every 36,000 miles helps extend their life. The 1.4 turbo suffers intake manifold problems caused by a failure of the non-return valve. The 1.0 turbo can suffer loss of compression in cylinder three.
InteriorSome reports of the central locking system failing, so check it works.
InfotainmentIf you like your music, check you can stream music from your phone to the car via the USB cable. Apparently, it’s not that reliable. The Bluetooth connection is little better, the problem often being with the built-in module.
Need to know
Laugh in the face of icy winter mornings: every Corsa from 2014 on has a heated windscreen. That’s every Corsa, from entry level to top spec. According to Vauxhall, it’s there because that’s what prospective buyers said they wanted. Or maybe it’s because the Corsa D suffered so badly from steamed-up windows?
IntelliLink infotainment is standard on all trims bar Life and Sting. Featuring a 7.0in touchscreen and digital radio, Vauxhall’s connectivity system is also an extension of your Apple or Android phone. Although sat-nav is available on many trims, you’re better off using IntelliLink to access your phone’s navigation app.
Vauxhall’s OnStar services will cease to be available from 31 December 2020, so don’t buy a Corsa on the strength of it alone.
Corsa 1.4T 100PS Energy Air-con S&S: The 99bhp engine is a spirited but refined unit that’s torquey at low revs. Add alloy wheels, IntelliLink and air-con and the model is a well-equipped all-rounder for sensible money
Corsa 1.6T 205PS VXR: Fast, grippy and edgy, the VXR easily justifies its wild card status but also because these very qualities are what keep it in the shadow of the more poised and sophisticated Ford Fiesta ST.
Ones we found
2015 Corsa 1.4i Sting 3dr, 103,000 miles, £3695
2016 Corsa 1.2i Design 5dr, 60,000 miles, £5789
2017 Corsa 1.4T 100 SRi 5dr, 40,000 miles, £7500
2018 Corsa 1.0 Energy 3dr, 10,000 miles, £9300
Vauxhall Corsa review
New Vauxhall Corsa-e: details of electric supermini confirmed
2019 Vauxhall Corsa prototype: first drive