We talk to Vauxhall design chief Mark Adams, and Corsa boss Andreas Zipser, to find out how the firm hopes to re-take the top spot as the UK's best-selling car
10 October 2014

The new Vauxhall Corsa is closely related to the outgoing car in many ways, but features all-new body panels, suspension, steering and interior architecture.

Vauxhall's latest version of its compact hatch is priced from just £8995 as Vauxhall aims to usurp Ford in providing the UK's best-selling car.

We find out how it was developed from Vauxhall/Opel design chief Mark Adams and the Corsa’s programme manager, Andreas Zipser. 

Q&A with Mark Adams

You’ve made big changes to the interior - what was the thinking behind this?

"The oldest thing in the old car was the interior - it was the most disconnected in our portfolio. So we wanted something new, but retaining the space of the old car’s cabin. People are downsizing, but they don’t want to give up on sophistication." 

The exterior is more evolution than revolution...

"The key thing with the Corsa is that we have a lineage, so we looked at it and asked, what do we want to keep? The four-metre footprint is critical, and so is the interior space. We wanted to bring it up to date, so we used a combination of fluid, sculptural shapes and crisp feature lines - it flows but it’s also precise and controlled. 

"For me, a small car really depends on the “eyes” and getting the details right, so the front end is very important." 

Is it just a case of grafting the front end of an Adam onto the Corsa?

"We wanted to get away from the old car’s double-decker grille and give the it a single focal point, to bring the car down and make it wider. 

"Dropping the grille allows for a wider grille and bigger headlamps - cars with tiny grilles can look like they’re kissing." 

Small cars are now equipped like big cars - is it a challenge to fulfil buyer’s expectations?

"It’s a huge challenge. Small cars have to appeal to the widest customer group and they’re competing in mainstream segments where you can’t charge premium prices. 

"It’s a tightrope, every day, doing these cars - you have tougher cost targets. And small cars won’t get any bigger, so we have to fit a lot more into the same package."

Q&A with Andreas Zipser

Tell us about the changes to the parts we can’t see.

"It’s slightly longer than the outgoing car, by 20mm - and 5mm lower - and underneath the suspension has been completely changed. The subframes are all new, and the rear torsion beam has a new profile. We’ve changed the steering too; the car’s new electrical architecture meant we could upgrade the way it behaves." 

What were you trying to achieve with the changes?

"We focused on improving comfort and the ride - those were our priorities. We wanted to make the powertrains more refined, too - the three cylinder has had 40 parts acoustically optimised to improve NVH. 

"The diesels have new cylinder heads, new injectors - they’re almost new engines." 

There’s a lot of equipment in this car - how much more can you add?

"From a technical point, you can do just about anything, but we have to find a sweet spot between equipment levels and packaging, and markets. UK buyers like heated screens, so the car has one, and it won’t be offered in other markets."

Does the similarity between the new car and the old one worry you at all?

"No, I’m not worried - in fact, I think the similarities are a good thing. In the past drastic changes have been because our cars have been less successful; the Corsa’s silhouette is very recognisable and that’s helpful." 

Dan Stevens

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Our Verdict

Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa is very refined, stylish and practical. Engines are not so good

10 October 2014
3 door ok, 5 door hideous.

jt

10 October 2014
I am reminded of when the Marina was axed in favour of the brand-new Ital.

10 October 2014
pathfinder wrote:

I am reminded of when the Marina was axed in favour of the brand-new Ital.

Thats what came to my mind too, particularly the way the window line on the rear doors of the 5-door differs inside and out. Otherwise, though, I'm sure this will do well for Vauxhall, though I wish they hadn't made the rear so reminiscent of the 5-year old Meriva. But are Vauxhall intending this just to be a short term fix, in the same way VW did with the MarkV / Mark VI Golf?

IAD

10 October 2014
Look wise it's no more of an improvement than the previous. I don't think Fiesta or the new Mazda 2 will have any worries.

MrJ

10 October 2014
Hard to see why Mark Adams thinks a droopy grille improves on the last model.

10 October 2014
Despite all the talk of "Premium", this new Corsa looks to be a pretty decent budget offering to take on some of the cheaper, successful imports. By developing the existing model rather than introducing a completely fresh design, it looks like costs have been contained such that the entry model is listed at £1000 less than a Fiesta - and with an engine 10bhp more powerful (actually quite a lot when the Fiesta only has 60).
And while I agree that the 5-door looks nothing special, I think the 3-door shown in Autocar's pictures is actually not a bad looker. I think it'll do alright.

10 October 2014
Absolutely

Most of the bread and butter manufacturers are struggling; the only ones making money are those that charge a higher price for their cars. The likes of Renault, Peugeot, Ford, Citroen and Seat are struggling to make money so revamping this makes a lot of sense.

I just wish they'd make their minds up. Are they pushing for higher prices or the lower end of the market?

10 October 2014
Seems to me that grafting the Adam nose onto the existing Corsa isn't particularly secretive. Elsewhere this is known as a facelift.


10 October 2014
After a plethora of good looking recently launched models from various manufacturers, Vauxhall come up with the new Corsa. The engines may be an improvement but the car looks terrible, inside and out.

10 October 2014
awful car. Gm let 13 people die by ignoring a problem with a faulty ignition switch, something that top level people knew about for a decade. it eventually required the firing of 15 top executives and engineers, and the recall of almost 10 million cars to correct. Awful culture, awful company, awful products.

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