By Bill McCarthy
WHEN your top selling supermini heads sales charts for two months out of three, and sits in second place for sales over the year, you must be doing something right.
The Corsa has always been a favourite, being relatively cheap to buy and run and stylish enough to attract a younger breed of drivers.
Now you throw in a bit of French chic to the styling, it becomes even more attractive.
Most people will know by now that Vauxhall is now owned by PSA, which in turn owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, so it will come as no surprise that the Corsa shares many of the styling, engine technology and underpinnings of its once rival, the Peugeot 208.
Now in its fifth incarnation, it does look so much better than its predecessor, having been completely reworked from the ground up.
It certainly looks the part with sharp angles, new grille with larger air intakes, high waistline, smart alloys and neat light cluster, which include LED headlights.
The 17-inch diamond-cut gloss black 5-twin spoke alloys on this model are particularly eye-catching, as is the piano black contrasting roof and A pillars.
With a starting price from £15,665 on the road, it’s not the cheapest in its class, but it offers a new range of petrol and diesel engines, together with the all-electric e-Corsa, and has some nice premium touches to the interior.
There are four trim levels, SE, SRi , Elite Nav and Ultimate Nav, driven here, at the top of the range, while engines include the engines include 1.2-litre 75PS and 100PS 1.2 petrol and1.5-litre (102PS) diesel.
All have decent levels of kit with the SE entry level including 16-inch double spoke alloy wheels and a seven-inch touchscreen. This range topper’s centrepiece is the 10-inch colour touchscreen which includes Vauxhall’s Connect, connectivity system and features 2D/3D street level mapping with European coverage and points-of-interest search.
The brains of the vehicle, it also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth connectivity and an impressive sound system with six speakers, plus a phone charging mat.
This model also has multi-function steering wheel, electric, heated front seats with massage function and auto windscreen wipers and lighting, together with parking camera and sensors.
The interior is roomy enough for a supermini with good leg and headroom at the front, though less so at the back, while fixtures and fittings feel robust and well put together. Limited soft touch finish gives a premium feel in places.
The latest 1.2 litre petrol engine is an excellent power plant, refined and delivering lively performance and decent economy. The 100PS three cylinder power plant is mated in this case to a slick eight speed auto gearbox, with the option of paddle changes behind the steering wheel. Five and six-speed manual boxes are available.
Acceleration is brisk with the 60mph mark hit in just over 10 seconds, lively enough for most, and delivered with that signature three-cylinder raps, with real-world economy figures of an impressive 47mpg and emissions of 134g/km. Drivers can also select one of three drive modes, economy, normal and sport, which stiffens up throttle and suspension responses, depending on the mood.
Handling is good with the car feeling agile and responsive, particularly on sharp corners, while the new steering set up is more responsive than its predecessor.
This type of car needs to be practical the Corsa now features a bigger boot with 309 litgres capacity which increases to more than 1,118 litres, when the split 60/40 rears seats are folded down.
Importantly, it is packed with safety kit not previously seen in cheaper cars including the full set of airbags and features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane positioning assistant, traffic sign recognition, side blind spot alert and flank guard and driver drowsiness system.
The best Corsa yet, well, you’d be surprised if it wasn’t, but there’s definitely a more upmarket feel to the car and the petrol engines are a revelation.
Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate Nav 100PS EAT8
Mechanical: 100PS, 1,199cc, three cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels via 8-speed auto gearbox
Max speed: 119mph
0-60mph: 10.2 seconds
Combined mpg: 45.6-48.7
Insurance group: 17
CO2 emissions: 134g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles