What is it?
Until now, the fourth-generation Corsa has been missing something. You could have a mildly powered Corsa in a variety of trims, and at the other end of the scale was the fire-breathing VXR, but there was nothing to bridge the gap between sensible and bonkers.
That brings us to the new Corsa Red Edition. It gets an uprated version of the Vauxhall’s 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which now pumps out 148bhp and develops 162lb ft of torque. To set it apart from lesser Corsas, it gets 17in diamond cut alloy wheels, a large rear spoiler, a sports bodykit and a black roof. Inside, sports seats, red trim and sports pedals set it apart.
What's it like?
It’s about right if you consider the outrageous VXR too extreme for your taste and want a model that's a halfway house - a warm hatch.
The uprated engine feels urgent and is keen to rev. It's properly on song from around 2000rpm, but a little flat beforehand, and this early surge - especially in first and second gears - can make the Red Edition feel a little uneven in its power delivery. Ultimately it feels strong, though, and it makes a pleasant noise, too.
The growling Corsa heads into corners with enthusiasm and, at first, all seems well - it grips well helping it maintain a tight line. However, you’ll find yourself making small steering adjustments mid-corner, for two reasons.
The first, despite its Sports suspension, is that there is too much body roll as it tries to maintain composure, leaving you feeling slightly knocked-about post-corner. The second reason is the steering. Overall, it’s quite heavily weighted, perhaps too heavy, yet it becomes slightly inconsistent mid-corner.
Sports suspension usually means you get a firm ride, and the Corsa Red Edition is no exception. It deals well with larger undulations and speed humps, but the secondary ride isn’t as good and leaves the car feeling jittery over rougher surfaces.
Inside, there are a few hints that you are in a sportier Corsa, including cross-stitched sports seats, a black gloss facia and a flash of decorative red trim. The dash is reasonably stylish, with well-sized buttons positioned where you’d expect them. The top of the dash gets soft-touch plastics, although everywhere else you'll find shiny, much harder plastics.
The sports seats are quite supportive if not figure-hugging, but some will find them set too high, even in the lowest setting. This doesn’t mean the driver can’t get comfortable, however, because the steering wheel has good reach and rake adjustment. It’s also a nice wheel to hold, with a neatly designed, if a bit fussy, instrument binnacle behind it.
Vauxhall’s Onstar information system comes as standard as does a 7.0in colour touchscreen, which controls your infotainment needs. It’s a little unresponsive to touch, but is well designed and easy to use, featuring a DAB radio and Bluetooth.
Your forward view out of the car is decent enough, but the Corsa's large C-pillars can create a blindspot. There’s plenty of space for drinks and belongings in the front, while a cleverly designed, recessed dash in front of the passenger seat, provides a feeling of space and airiness, as does the lightly coloured rooflining.
Sitting in the back is not for the faint-hearted. Access is easy enough as the front seats fold and slide forwards. Once seated, with the front seats back in place, it’s all a little tight. Leg room is limited and the sloping roofline reduces head room, especially if you are sitting in the middle.
Access to the boot is slightly restricted by the shapely bootlid, which tapers at the bottom. The boot itself is above average in size for the class and is well shaped and flat.
Should I buy one?
The Corsa Red Edition does exactly what it’s meant to, it fills the gap in the Corsa range below the VXR. It ticks all the warm hatch boxes, being genuinely brisk yet also cheaper for insurance and running costs than the VXR.
However, the way the Red Edition handles won't endear it to keener drivers. If you're in the market for a warm hatch, it is worth taking a look at the Seat Ibiza FR and Ford Fiesta Zetec-S, both of which are cheaper to buy and run and, most importantly, better to drive. Rather than falling in love with the Corsa Red Edition, we’re left a little broken hearted.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.4T 150 Red Edition
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £17,125; Engine 1364cc, petrol; Power 148bhp; Torque 162lb ft; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1214kg; 0-62mph 8.9sec; Top speed 129mph; Economy 49.6mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 132g/km, 23%