But in either form, it’s respectably agile and well controlled, while the tuning is such that firm edges are knocked comfortably aside. Riding on 17in wheels with 205/45 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, these Corsas are on the biggest of the wheel sizes (15-17in) the car will get.
The steering’s relatively light, but accurate, and there are a few key distinctions between different cars. Wanke likes the more direct, responsive set-up over another car’s, which has more friction. I agree, but neither feels quite as natural in response, to me, as, say, a Ford Fiesta’s steering, but it’s engaging enough. Already, the ride and handling and steering could trouble the top cars in the class.
Away from the chassis, the engines are strong and responsive and the new eight-speed gearbox, with standard flappy paddles, is smooth. The manual shift is slick, too, especially compared with PSA’s typical shifts. The clutch is still too light and vague, but the shift itself is less gritty and obstinate than it is in most Peugeots or Citroëns. PSA identifies centres of competence for key engineering areas and it’s no surprise that PSA’s manual transmission specialists are now Rüsselsheim’s.
So the team is small and the timescale has been short. Sometimes, though, that’s no bad thing. I’m quite fond of the idea of letting specialists get on with what they know best, and getting fewer committees involved. There are a lot of questions still unanswered, but the evidence we have seen is good.
SAME PLATFORM, DIFFERENT FEEL
Although the Corsa is based on PSA’s Compact Modular Platform (CMP), Opel engineers still think there’s a good degree of autonomy about how they can develop the car. CMP itself can offer up three wheelbases, two track widths and three rear axle assemblies and cope with 605-670mm wheel and tyre circumferences.
“Each brand of PSA can use different models to get the DNA of their brand into the car,” says Opel’s Thomas Wanke, confirming that the engineering has been done by Opel in Germany, for “continuity in Rüsselsheim engineering”, with the ultimate intent for the Corsa’s feel to be ‘German, exciting, emotional’. Production will be in Zaragoza, Spain, as per the current Corsa, which, even as late as last year, accounted for 23% of all Vauxhall-Opel sales.
The Vauxhall-Opel integration into PSA doesn’t stop at platform sharing. Although it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed, Autocar believes the Opel component factory in Kaiserslautern, western Germany, not so far from the French border, will become an EV battery factory for the PSA group.