It is said that time never made a bad car good. Although we never claimed the previous-generation Vauxhall Corsa to be an actively undesirable car, we were aware, even at its in 2000 launch, that it was far from being the pick of the hatchback crowd. To put it mildly, it needed to be replaced long before this model came along in 2006.

So, ‘Small car, big deal’. That’s what we said about this Corsa when it was first launched. And there’s no doubting its significance within General Motors, Vauxhall’s parent.

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Our Corsa came with regular suspension, but there are sportier settings on SXi models

“The new Corsa is super-important,” said GM stalwart Bob Lutz at its launch. “It’s the core car; it’s the base of the pyramid.”

In that case, this new car had better be good. Especially given that one of the big problems that GM has faced for long periods – as the company itself admits – has been a weak Corsa. At the risk of spoiling our verdict, ‘weak’ is not an accusation you’d level at this Corsa.

There’s another thing that the new Corsa is not, and that’s compact. At close to four metres long, this latest model joins the burgeoning ranks of burgeoning superminis. That’s something we’ll have to get used to.

Big superminis have rapidly become the rule rather than the exception, as a new segment – populated by the likes of the Volkswagen Up and Peugeot 107 triplets – matures beneath them.

Some would say that the demiseof the little supermini is something to be mourned, and not without justification. New superminis risk losing as much as they gain. They’re safer and more comfortable than ever, true, but in the process, they can lose the spark and vim that made them so appealing in the first place. So can the Corsa buck the trend?

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