First DriveNew Corsa’s turbocharged 1.4-litre engine majors on torque and frugality, but might not appeal to keener drivers who like vivacious petrol units
First DriveAll-new supermini raises its game by building on its predecessor’s strengths, with the end result being a classy supermini that’s decent to drive
What is it?
You might well ask. It's a Vauxhall Corsa Ecoflex that looks just like any other Vauxhall Corsa Ecoflex – but underneath an unaltered shape are a few changes for the 2010 model year.
Most significant when it comes to the Ecoflex is that the engine now develops 94bhp, up from 74bhp, while economy has risen to a combined cycle 76.3mpg, thus it emits only 98g/km of Co2. Thank a turbo with variable geometry and new software, plus gear ratio changes for the increase.
The Corsa – a supermini whose refinement and maturity we like – has also been subject to some chassis changes. The electric power steering has been tweaked on all Corsas, while springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are changed on most models, too.
On the Ecoflex, the springs are unchanged sports ones (lower than regular ones for a better drag coefficient), but the dampers are softer, as are the bump-stops and the anti-roll bars thicker to compensate for the softer dampers.
What's it like?
Noisier than the to-2009 Corsa Ecoflex. I drove a pair back-to-back and the more powerful 2010 car has more diesel tap, which is unsurprising given its extra power. It has a bit more 'whoosh' than before, too – less linear, and a bit quicker when you wind it up.
Also noticeable as soon as you get underway is the Corsa's revised steering, which is more responsive just off straight ahead, with less stiction. Effectively it feels lighter and more consistent at low speeds.
Despite the sport springs the Ecoflex's high profile tyres means it rides pretty well, and the softer dampers mean it deals with high-frequency bumps and road ripples a tad better.
Otherwise the Corsa feels little different to before. It's still the same kind of driving experience; less agile than, say, a Fiesta but more mature and comfortable than most cars in the class. Not a bad compromise.
Should I buy one?
Maybe. In this Ecoflex form the Corsa is a fair bit cheaper than the (admittedly slightly better equipped) Ford Focus Econetic. The Fiesta is still the preferable car to drive, but the Corsa is pleasingly refined and, given cost of ownership is likely to score rather higher on customers' priorities than driving dynamics, we can see why you'd pick the Vauxhall.