The development took place at Opel’s engineering base in Rüsselsheim, Germany, but this second stab at a fifth-gen Corsa is being built in Zaragoza, Spain, at what has been the model’s production base since 1982.
It’s noticeable from the outgoing Corsa that the PSA modular platform is married to a bodyshell whose cab-rear, two-box silhouette is, in the words of one Vauxhall engineer, considerably less van-like than before. It’s no surprise that this car resembles the new Peugeot 208, and the dimensions for the two are similar, the Corsa being 39mm longer but 48mm lower and a scant 1mm narrower than its predecessor.
Overall, it’s elegant if understated, with some eye-catching creases and a shallow but pleasingly broad headlight and grille graphic. It’s attractive but not enough to steal the 208’s limelight, which is probably how the PSA Group will have wanted this particular game played.
We at Autocar have long wanted more efficient powertrains for the Corsa, and that’s what we now have. The big seller in the engine line-up is likely to be PSA’s 1.2-litre petrol triple, available with either 74bhp (naturally aspirated) or 99bhp (turbocharged). Each has a combined economy figure of around 50mpg if you opt for the five- or six-speed manual transmissions, or slightly less with the Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic. The only diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder said to manage closer to an impressive 70mpg, but all the new engines slip under 100g/km for CO2, not least the electric Corsa-e, which emits nothing at all and touts 205 miles of WLTP-certified range.
Whatever form the new Corsa takes, it uses MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a torsion beam rear, which is standard in this class. And unlike in the past, when Vauxhall would subtly retune Opel’s steering set-up to trade some autobahn-centric stability for more B-road-friendly off-centre response, the Corsa twins are now mechanically identical.
However, compared with the old Corsa, the dampers are said to give noticeably better wheel control, both to improve roadholding and to allow Vauxhall to dial back the ESP intervention for a more natural driving experience. In tandem with serious weight savings that total more than 100kg – the body is 40kg lighter but 15% stiffer than before, while the engines are on average 15kg lighter, and there’s now an aluminium bonnet – that gives enthusiasts reason for cheer.