Thomas Wanke, project leader for the new Corsa, said the H-shaped battery pack’s three elements – there’s a smaller portion beneath the front seats and a larger portion beneath the rear bench, with the two linked by cells placed where the exhaust would normally sit – mean occupant space and boot capacity are identical to those of diesel and petrol versions of the Corsa, although the rear axle is wider and its central portion set further back to accommodate more battery cells.
The charging port sits where the fuel filler would usually be found. If the Vauxhall Corsa-e has an ace card, it’s that it can charge at speeds of up to 100kW as standard. This is double the rate offered by certain rivals and allows the battery to take on 160 miles of range in around 30 minutes.
We ride shotgun in the Corsa-e:
Our brief ride in the Corsa-e is limited to a handful of laps around Hangar 42 on a rainy day at Bruntingthorpe proving ground. As a setting, it’s far from glamorous, but the car – in range-topping Elite trim – instantly looks more desirable than any other Corsa to date.
It’s longer and wider but noticeably lower than before and the design has a pebble-like simplicity in contrast to the Vauxhall’s architectural sibling, the Peugeot 208.
Once on the move, as now mandated by law, there’s a futuristic, metallic hum that emanates from the car’s nose as it pulls cleanly off the mark, although without the windows open, it’s barely audible inside.
Corsa project leader Thomas Wanke explains that to access the maximum 134bhp and 260lb ft, you need to select Sport mode using a switch on the transmission tunnel. This also sharpens the throttle response and adds weight to the steering.
The upcoming Corsa VXR is now expected to be pure-electric, although performance is hardly the raison d’être of this standard Corsa-e. Nevertheless, a 0-30mph time of 2.1sec means it will feel far from slow on the road, and even in this hangar, it darts forward in smooth, swift fashion.
The other side of the coin is Eco mode, which limits power to around 81bhp (although kickdown will unlock the maximum) and will make it far easier for owners to achieve the car’s quoted range. Wanke points out the newgeneration Corsa’s aerodynamics are far better than anything achieved on the old General Motors platform, which bodes well for rolling refinement at higher speeds.
Conspicuous by its absence is also a driving position awkwardly propped up by batteries. Thanks again to the new CMP platform, the Corsa-e driver’s hip-point is 30mm lower than that of even the outgoing, combustion-engined generation.