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."