A heated windscreen. That’s what, in customer satisfaction surveys, current Vauxhall Corsa owners said they wanted. Not a revolution in looks, nor in dynamics, nor in cabin ambience, but a heated windscreen, please.
So you’ll excuse the new Vauxhall Corsa for not reinventing itself. The new model is as all new as many cars get these days. Elements of the monocoque have been carried over, because until a revolution in the cost of composites comes, modern finite element analysis means that its steel shell is as stiff and crash resistant as it’s likely to get.
That makes it a similar size and weight to the outgoing Corsa, at a whiff over four metres long and 1177kg. Beyond that, new means new. Every panel on the mildly Adam-ised, slightly more butch exterior is different. Every component forward of the A-pillars is new. Every suspension component, too, as are the pick-up points for the front MacPherson struts and the rear torsion beam.
GM retains an engineering centre at Millbrook in the UK and is no stranger to tuning cars there, because it knows that British road conditions are different from those elsewhere. So whereas Opel Corsas, belying their German engineering origin, will apparently have greater straight-on stability to their steering, UK cars get a different power steering tune (electric assistance makes that much easier).
It’s said to be more responsive off the straight-ahead to suit our twistier roads. Although the rest of the chassis tune is no different here or across mainland Europe, development of that has taken place in Britain, too.
Discovering what's under the Corsa's bonnet
The motor's all new as well. At least, this 114bhp one is. Like Ford, Vauxhall now has its own 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol unit. The rest of the range is made up of mainly petrol engines, with only a 1.3-litre diesel in 74bhp and 94bhp to choose from the oilburning fratenity. The gasoline line-up starts with a duo of naturally aspirated 1.4-litre engines producing 74bhp, and 89bhp respectively, followed by a pair of blown 1.4-litre units producing 99bhp and 148bhp, while the Corsa VXR gets a 202bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Vauxhall says this new three-cylinder engine is the only triple that gets a balancer shaft, that it’s extremely smooth and that the torque and power curves are both plump. That last bit is certainly true. Peak torque arrives at 1800rpm and hangs around until 4500rpm, only 500rpm before peak power arrives, which stays until 6000rpm.