Like all of its rivals, Vauxhall offers the Corsa with an extensive choice of engines. The range starts with a 64bhp 1.0-litre petrol, and goes through an 84bhp 1.2 and 99bhp 1.4 before reaching the potent 189bhp 1.6 of the VXR. Diesel options include a 1.3 with either 74bhp or 94bhp, plus a 128bhp 1.7.
The 1.2-litre engine revs quietly enough for the driver to enjoy using it with relative abandon. It is smooth and reasonably quiet, although performance is average rather than zesty.
The base 94bhp diesel got a considerable rise in power for 2010 (up from 74bhp) but it is also noisier with it. The more powerful 2010 car has more diesel tap, which is unsurprising given its extra power. It has a bit more 'whoosh' than before, too – it’s less linear, and a bit quicker when you wind it up.
Power delivery in the VXR is surprisingly progressive and the throttle mapping is sensible, with none of the sudden, attention-seeking turbo surge that made the previous-gen Astra VXR such a frustratingly blunt tool. Drop the windows an inch and it even does a decent impression of the Astra’s ripping turbo snarl.
We’ve no complaints about the Corsa’s brakes. It stops rather better than it goes, in fact. The 2.63sec it takes to brake from 60mph to rest is excellent, as is a 48m stopping distance from 70mph. In our testing, they proved immune to fade, too.