As we reported earlier this year, many of the most experienced employees at Rüsselsheim were assigned to the task, and they duly delivered. So, at the second attempt, here we have it: the actual, all-new, fifth-generation Corsa. Bravo Opel and Vauxhall.
Now that it’s here, you’ll find it an attractive supermini, if a little unassuming. There’s an air of maturity never before seen with the Corsa, and neat creases have replaced the oddly aggressive lines of the fourth-generation car. It’s also impossible not to see the connection to the 208, mainly in the silhouette. The CMP basis promotes unambiguous two-box dimensions, and so the Corsa now sports a longer bonnet, with the windscreen sitting a long way further back. To put it bluntly, the proportions are much less van-like and all the better for it.
Unsurprisingly, the dimensions of the Corsa and 208 are also almost identical, bar a few millimetres here and there, and absolutely typical of the segment today. But again, compared with the old Corsa, the differences are clear as day. The new car is 39mm longer but its roof is 48mm lower (sounds like a different class, doesn’t it?), giving improved aerodynamics and an athletic stance alien to any non-VXR Corsa thus far.
What's then surprising is that width has decreased. Only by a single millimetre, admittedly, but when it comes to superminis, the narrower the better, and perhaps this is the start of a trend. Finally, the wheelbase has grown a useful 28mm, which ought to improve occupant space (but it’s actually still pretty tight in the back).
Such are the radical changes a fresh platform can bring. However, there are other welcome developments that are less the consequence of PSA’s design and manufacturing expertise and more the result of ingenuity in Rüsselsheim.
Although larger, the Corsa’s body-in-white weighs some 40kg less than before. There are further savings for the front seats (5.5kg), rear seats (4.5kg), aluminium bonnet (2.4kg) and engines (15kg on average). It means the lightest variant – the basic Corsa SE fitted with naturally aspirated three-cylinder petrol and riding on 16in wheels – weighs less than a tonne. Not since the Corsa B of 1993 has Vauxhall’s supermini been so dainty.
You would therefore hope for considerably improved driving dynamics, which, in short, is what you get. For British owners, it’s a less bespoke proposition, though, and not just because of the PSA parts.
Vauxhall used to retune the steering of German-built Opel Corsas to trade some autobahn-centric straight-on stability for better off-centre response on twisting rat-runs. The setup is now uniform, however, the only difference being the calibration for the speed-dependent assistance in the 129bhp 1.2-litre SRi, which tops the range and is available only with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Officially speaking, we won’t even receive this model in the UK. Unofficially, however, it’s looking ever more likely. Anybody who would like their Corsa with extra engine bay bracing and a Sport driving mode that artificially bolsters both the exhaust note and the weight of the steering should keep their fingers crossed. Today, we’re testing the 99bhp version of 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol that Vauxhall says will be its best-seller (it can also be had without forced induction and 74bhp, and there's a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 101bhp for high-mileage drivers). You can pair it either with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. Both, just like the engines, are PSA stock, and the economy and emissions statistics are much improved over the old motors.