The new Corsa is the first Vauxhall model that has been developed since the firm was bought by the PSA Group, which also owns Peugeot, Citroën and DS. It shares the PSA Group’s new CMP platform and powertrains with the recently launched Peugeot 208.
The Corsa-e will match the e-208 in having a 50kWh battery to power the electric motor. The powertrain has 134bhp and produces 191lb ft, enough for a 0-31mph time of around 3.1secs.
The Corsa-e will feature three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Eco – with Vauxhall claiming the 211-mile official range can be extended by up to 40% in Eco drive mode. The hatch also features a regenerative braking system.
New technology includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, intelligent speed control, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition. Top-line models feature a 10in touchscreen infotainment system with connected navigation services, alongside full LED matrix headlights.
The new Corsa is the first of a raft of Vauxhalls and Opels aimed at rejuvenating the brand with new levels of design integrity and engineering.
Opel-Vauxhall vice-president of design Mark Adams told Autocar at the Corsa’s unveiling that the new model was engineered to the most robust standards in the company’s history, despite a massively shortened development programme after PSA bought GM’s European arm in 2017 and started afresh.
New Vauxhall Corsa-e: official pics of electric hatch
A GM-based Corsa was all but finished by that point and it could have been launched, but the ‘toolbox’ of newly available PSA technology, including access to BEV hardware, plus licensing costs that would have been payable to GM, meant starting again was “a no brainer”, according to Adams.
“We hand-picked our most experienced designers and engineers,” said Adams. “This is not a committee car.” He added that Opel’s design and engineering team had learnt new methods on the way but that the company couldn’t work within such a timeframe with every new model. “You’d kill people with the intensity of the work,” he said.
PSA sees Vauxhall and Opel as a good fit with its French brands, noting that their respective British and German heritage means they’ll achieve sales volumes in their home markets that Peugeot, Citroën and DS won’t be able to match.
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares has overseen a surprising turnaround of fortunes in an extremely short space of time. Opel-Vauxhall returned a £750m profit last year, its first in two decades. That has come from a mix of cost reduction, extra buying power and a reduction in discounting rather than a notable sales increase.