Pleasingly refined, cheap to run and own

What is it?

You might well ask. It's a Vauxhall Corsa Ecoflex that looks just like any other Vauxhall Corsa Ecoflex – but underneath an unaltered shape are a few changes for the 2010 model year.

Most significant when it comes to the Ecoflex is that the engine now develops 94bhp, up from 74bhp, while economy has risen to a combined cycle 76.3mpg, thus it emits only 98g/km of Co2. Thank a turbo with variable geometry and new software, plus gear ratio changes for the increase.

The Corsa – a supermini whose refinement and maturity we like – has also been subject to some chassis changes. The electric power steering has been tweaked on all Corsas, while springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are changed on most models, too.

On the Ecoflex, the springs are unchanged sports ones (lower than regular ones for a better drag coefficient), but the dampers are softer, as are the bump-stops and the anti-roll bars thicker to compensate for the softer dampers.

What's it like?

Noisier than the to-2009 Corsa Ecoflex. I drove a pair back-to-back and 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 – less linear, and a bit quicker when you wind it up.

Also noticeable as soon as you get underway is the Corsa's revised steering, which is more responsive just off straight ahead, with less stiction. Effectively it feels lighter and more consistent at low speeds.

Despite the sport springs the Ecoflex's high profile tyres means it rides pretty well, and the softer dampers mean it deals with high-frequency bumps and road ripples a tad better.

Otherwise the Corsa feels little different to before. It's still the same kind of driving experience; less agile than, say, a Fiesta but more mature and comfortable than most cars in the class. Not a bad compromise.

Should I buy one?

Maybe. In this Ecoflex form the Corsa is a fair bit cheaper than the (admittedly slightly better equipped) Ford Focus Econetic. The Fiesta is still the preferable car to drive, but the Corsa is pleasingly refined and, given cost of ownership is likely to score rather higher on customers' priorities than driving dynamics, we can see why you'd pick the Vauxhall.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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2uettottanta 5 June 2010

Re: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex

I have always liked the Corsa, it has gotten a bad image in the past due to boy racers and so on but with this new model they are moving away from that which is good, but I owuld not buy this ecoflex if I were to get the Corsa because even with it's amazing 76.3MPG, you are only going to get that figure if you drive extremely carefully and slowly everywhere, and it doesn't matter what age you are, that is never, ever going to happen, when people go out for drives they do not just go on economy drives, so I would just buy a normal petrol or preferably for economy, a diesel corsa (one of the normal models in the range) because they will give you nearly the same fuel economy on the combined cycle when you are driving normally and they will be a lot more fun to drive than this thing !!

Lifer 28 May 2010

Re: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex

I suspect this car may be just about the most economical car to run in the real world. Hybrids sound great in theory but fail to deliver in practice.

Flash Harry 28 May 2010

Re: Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex

I think this is a cracking little car.looks good especially in 3 door form,and is reliable and enjoyable to drive.Opel/vauxhall have a strong range at present.lets hope the General does not screw it up!!!!