It arrives here with spec slightly out of kilter with the others, because that’s all we could borrow. But no matter that it arrived burdened with two additional doors, and that it’s slightly down on power.
The 1.0-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder engine making 99bhp isn’t far behind; and from experience we know it’s a revvy, peppy, smooth piece of kit. In Zetec trim it’s priced at £14,545.
Read the full Volkswagen Polo review
Then there’s Volkswagen’s Polo. If you’re choosing a supermini you need a pretty good reason not to look at one. Memory and experience tells us it majors on perceived quality and refinement instead of dynamism, which is no bad thing. It comes to us with the same number of doors as the Corsa, and is closer on power.
The Polo has a four-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo and makes 109bhp. It costs £15,610; expensive, but that’s because it’s an SEL. You can buy one that’s priced more in line with the Corsa but it’s SE Design, which means you only get 89bhp. The short of it, then, is that the Polo asks a premium. We’ll see if it warrants it.
So to the Corsa. It’s the same model we tested in the first drive. A three-door, 1.0-litre turbo petrol, with a new three-cylinder engine and in SRi-VX Line 115 form; not a sporty specification for the most part, but including 17in wheels and some red flashes on the interior.
Fact is there’s too much intrinsic value in the ‘SRi’ tag for Vauxhall not to use it, even if the suspension or intent doesn’t warrant it. But with 114bhp the Corsa is the most powerful car here and, at £14,460, also the cheapest.
Does it feel the cheapest? Inside, not particularly. Elements of the dashboard have received some Adamification, but Vauxhall hasn’t overloaded the Corsa with highlights from its premium city car. Supermini drivers are too conservative to yield to that sort of thing.
Instead, then, the Corsa’s dashboard has a new touch-screen, through which the entertainment and communications systems are controlled, with only a few supplementary buttons – city steering, door locks and the like – remaining on the dash. Below are conventional dials for the heating and ventilation; though not of high material quality.
The rest of the cabin materials are as good as you’d expect – no more, but no less. Piano-black plastic adorns most of the dash, firm plastics abound, but the steering wheel and stalks – the pieces your fingers touch most – feel of reasonable quality and the driving position is comfortably adjustable.
It out-does the Fiesta in many respects. The Ford doesn’t show the same consistency of material choices. The Corsa’s steering wheel feels more pleasing to the hands and the Ford has an untidy upper dash.
There is nothing wrong with having buttons on the console, but the Fiesta’s controls are far from an ergonomic delight, and the large centre heater dial in the dash centre clicks with no more refined a feel than a washing machine’s dials. The faux silver plastic on the wheel is too obviously plastic, as well.
But the driving position is a match for the Vauxhall’s; a couple of our testers felt the driver’s seat could be a little lower, but most thought it comfortable.
All of our drivers, though, agreed that neither the Vauxhall nor the Ford’s interiors were a match for the Polo’s. Volkswagen has great consistency across its models. I think you’d know you were in a VW, blindfolded, whether you were in an Up or a Phaeton, such is the consistency of material choices and the slickness of control weights.