You know some fairly large change is afoot when the humble Vauxhall Corsa is reconfigured in such a way that it can run on nothing but the electrons that flow from a power socket.
In fact, it seems entirely fair to state that this new electric Corsa-e – which has an official WLTP range of 209 miles – is actually the most important car that Vauxhall and German twin brand Opel have launched since, well, the original Corsa arrived on the scene way back in 1982.
Of course, the Spanish-built supermini was originally known as the Nova here in Britain, before the decision was made to import the Corsa moniker from the Continent in the early 1990s. But even with that rebranding occuring in between the first and second generations, very little has stood between the little Vauxhall and continued sales success year after year after year. Well, very little aside from a certain blue oval-badged rival, anyway; but let’s not get bogged down in a game of whose sales are greater than whose.
With the arrival of this new electric version, Vauxhall and its new French owner will no doubt be hoping to spur the Corsa on to even greater heights.
How has Vauxhall made room for an electric powertrain?
As with its combustion-engined sixth-generation counterpart, the Corsa-e sits atop the PSA Group’s Common Modular Platform (CMP) – an architecture we’re fairly familiar with now, seeing as it also underpins the likes of the new DS 3 Crossback and Peugeot 208, plus their respective electric versions.
However, it’s interesting to note that, despite the fact the CMP was developed from the ground up to accommodate full-scale electrification, the process of converting a standard petrol Corsa into a zero-emissions Corsa-e isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It’s certainly not a question of dropping a few battery cells in the boot and calling it job done.
In fact, in order to properly accommodate the entirety of the 50kWh battery pack while also making the Corsa perform and handle as it should despite having an additional 345kg to lug about, some light surgical alteration was required. This included pushing the rear torsion beam farther back, widening both the front and rear tracks ever so slightly and extending the wheelbase by a few millimetres. At the same time, the front subframe was stiffened to increase torsional rigidity, the spring and damper rates were revised and the steering response was recalibrated.