The Corsa was the UK’s fourth-best-selling new car in June, a position it also holds in the current year-to-date rankings. That’s impressive for a car that, under the skin, dates back to 2006, when it was codenamed the Corsa D.
The model under the microscope here is the Corsa E, launched in 2014. The change of letter suggests it was a lot more than a makeover. In fact, apart from some additional stiffening and revised locations for the suspension pick-up points, the platform was as before.
Where the model’s step up the alphabet was more than justified was in its new engines and revised steering and suspension tailored for British roads but, most noticeable of all, its change of clothes. Apart from the roof, every panel was new. Inside, the car got a new interior featuring soft-touch plastics, better ventilation controls and a smarter music system. All but the most basic models gained Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system.
Back in 2014, you could have your Corsa with a bewildering range of engines: a couple of naturally aspirated 1.2 and 1.4 petrols, a super-smooth 1.0-litre turbocharged triple in 89bhp and 113bhp outputs, a torquey 1.4 turbo in 99bhp and 148bhp flavours and a pair of fleet-friendly, Euro 6-compliant 1.3 CDTi diesels producing 74bhp and 94bhp. At the top of the pile sat the 202bhp 1.6 turbo in the VXR.
The triples are worth seeking out but, if you want a little more oomph, choose the 99bhp 1.4 turbo.
And then in 2018, they were all replaced by a quartet of Euro 6.2-compliant 1.4 petrol engines producing 74bhp, 89bhp, 99bhp and 148bhp. The 74bhp is plentiful and fine for town but you should hold out for the turbocharged 99bhp unit. The 148bhp engine is brisk but expensive.
At launch, there were no fewer than 11 trims, but by 2018, they had fallen back to around nine, which is where they remain. Avoid the most basic and go mid-range, seeking out a combination of alloy wheels, air conditioning and 7.0in touchscreen featuring IntelliLink. On this basis, the Energy trim level gets our vote. Another is Sport, which is based on Energy and adds sports seats and pedals.