He said: “When you look at the packaging, specification and pricing that will be competitive if not aggressive, then it’s a better-value package than its rivals and, I’d argue, dynamically it’s better also. There’s a gap to close to the Fiesta, but this should go some way to doing it.”
The exterior design of the new Corsa has clear links to the more recent newcomers in Vauxhall’s range. The front headlights and front grille design, with a coloured bar running through it, are developed from the Adam, and the blade surfacing in the doors is now a Vauxhall hallmark. At the rear, the light clusters split in the tailgate to make the Corsa’s stance look wider.
The five-door model is similar in profile to the current Corsa. This version will be pitched as a more premium
and sophisticated model, with the three-door version sold as the sportier of the pair.
Although the basic monocoque is carried over, the suspension and electric steering systems are all new. UK-spec Corsas have their own steering set-ups tuned at the Millbrook proving ground. The carried-over monocoque means that the dimensions are largely the same as the outgoing car’s, with just 3mm added in length.
Two chassis set-ups will be offered: a standard Comfort set-up with 16-inch wheels, and a Sport option that rides 15-20mm lower and is offered with 16-inch or 17-inch wheels.
Mitchell said the Fiesta was the benchmark for the new Corsa’s handling and the Volkswagen Polo was earmarked as the supermini to beat for ride quality. “I think we exceed the Polo on comfort and got a Fiesta-like sharp turn-in without compromising ride quality,” said Mitchell.
Five engines will be offered from launch. The base unit will be a normally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol four-pot with 69bhp. Next in the range is an 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol, which is expected to be the best-seller, followed by a 1.4-litre petrol turbo with 99bhp.
The most interesting engine will be the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol triple, which will be introduced before the Corsa in the Adam next month. It will be offered with 89bhp and 113bhp outputs, each of which achieves 125lb ft of torque from 1800rpm. Vauxhall claims this strong low-end is particularly evident during acceleration from 50mph to 75mph – the Corsa with 133bhp makes this transition in just 10.4 seconds.
Both variants of this new engine are fitted with stop-start as standard and the 89bhp three-door returns 54.7mpg on the combined cycle according to the manufacturer's claims.
Mitchell said Vauxhall has noted Ford’s success in marketing its equivalent engine, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost, and might try something similar when marketing of the new Corsa begins early next year.
The sole diesel option will be a 1.3-litre turbodiesel with either 74bhp or 94bhp. Both versions come with fuel-saving stop-start technology fitted as standard. Vauxhall promises big CO2 and economy improvements over the current range.
At launch, the most frugal Corsa diesel version – with 94bhp, five-speed manual transmission and braking energy recuperation system – can reduce the three-door model‘s CO2 emissions down to 85g/km and fuel consumption down to a claimed 87.8mpg on the combined cycle.
There’s no official word yet on the launch of a VXR model, but Mitchell conceded that such a model is likely to happen, given the popularity of hot superminis.
The new Corsa’s carried-over monocoque means that the interior packaging is practically identical to the outgoing model’s, but Vauxhall says interior space was always one of the main reasons for buying the outgoing model,
so it didn’t seek to improve it.
Instead, the firm has significantly raised the perceived quality of the cabin and its fit and finish, resulting in one of the most sophisticated supermini interiors on sale. There are no carried-over parts inside, and a whole host of new trims and fabrics are offered. Boot space is roughly the same as the current car’s, and there is no loss of cabin space.
The centre stack is borrowed from the Adam. The IntelliLink infotainment system, standard on all but entry-level models, features a seven-inch colour touchscreen located on the centre stack between driver and front passenger.
The connectivity system is compatible with Apple and Android devices and can be operated by voice command. Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free can also be used, as can several apps for navigation and internet radio.
Some of the dashboard panels are changeable, and options include a heated steering wheel and front seats.
A host driver assistance systems will be available including a heated windscreen, hill start assist and tyre pressure monitoring system, which are all included as standard.
Options include bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights and cornering light, advanced park assist, side blind spot alert, rear-view camera, forward collision warning and the 'Eye Camera' system which comprises systems such as road sign recognition, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
“The premium interior is one of the unique selling points of the car,” said Mitchell. “It’s got the fit, finish and quality to lead the B-segment. It’s ahead of the Fiesta and, I would argue, the Polo in some of the fit and finish and treatments.”
Seven trim levels will be offered and the base models are set to be “very keenly priced”, according to Mitchell.
Q&A with Mark Adams, Vauxhall design boss
What was wrong with the outgoing Corsa?
“Not much. But we wanted to have a single grille rather than a split one and change the headlights to make it look wider. The tail-lamps are more horizontal, too, doing the same thing. You have to exaggerate the character of small cars.
“The side is more sculptured, too, with the GTC ‘blade’ used in the other cars. We think it’s going to hit the sweet spot with customers.”
Why didn’t you use the Adam’s design language?
“We want all the vehicles to have a link but we don’t want them to be Russian dolls. They need to have their own personality and design. The Adam is fun and bubbly. The Corsa is more purposeful and elegant. But it’s important that their design shows that.”
What were the objectives with the interior?
“The interior is a huge leap forward. Customers loved the space of the old one so there was no need to change it, but there were too many buttons. We know people liked the simple interface and infotainment of the Adam, so we’ve adopted and improved that.
“We’ve made quality upgrades, too. All the touch zones have been improved. And like the exterior, we’ve made the dashboard more horizontal, to give a feeling of space.”
Additional reporting by Chas Hallett
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