From £8,7408

Steering, suspension and ride comfort

On the move, the big-car feel that the Vauxhall's interior implies only increases. Around town, the Vauxhall Corsa is very quiet and the ride isolates you from the worst effects of poor urban surfaces. It remains compliant as speeds rise, too. Motorway noise levels are as low as any in the class – only a couple of years ago they would have been as good as anything from the class above.

In general driving, the controls have a consistent (if detached) weight, but for a small car (and one that’s claimed to be fun in three-door guise), it’s disappointing that they’re not actually more positive. The electric power steering is overly light, although it’s direct and accurate, and the brakes are over-servoed at the top of their travel, so it can be difficult to drive this car smoothly.

Brakes are over-servoed at top of travel but progressive from there on, and stopping power is beyond question

It’s hard to criticise because there’s nothing actually wrong with the controls – it’s just that they’re slightly clumsy. As a result, the car is as uninvolving and unrewarding as it is comfortable. That’s a pity. And it makes what happens when you take the Corsa by the scruff of the neck even more remarkable.

Even Corsas that don’t ride on on SXi suspension – which is stiffer and corners more flatly – have a chassis that borders the exceptional in the class. It’s virtually unflappable when driven with gusto, displaying outstanding body control and a decent dose of adjustability. So it is even more frustrating that there’s so little interaction between driver and controls.

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Vauxhall says that the standard 17-inch wheels give the best blend of handling and ride on the Vauxhall VXR (2007-2014) model, as opposed to the optional 18s. We agree. That said, even on choppy roads, the bigger-wheeled Corsa flows impressively. Over the same roads, a Mini Cooper S would have heads bashing the headlining.