Good-looking, quick, entertaining and good value too, this warm Corsa has a lot to recommend it

What is it?

The new Corsa SRi, so the Vauxhall press release would have you believe, is the return of a legend, the reincarnation of “one of the nation’s best-loved hot hatches”. Here’s why.

If you’re in your twenties or early thirties you may remember the original 82bhp Nova SRi fondly as a surprisingly rapid and fun first car. You may also remember that when you (almost inevitably) landed it in a ditch, the only parts worth saving were the dodgy aftermarket alloys. If you are not in your twenties, then you probably associate the SRi badge with joy-riding chavs, and if that’s the case, the “best-loved” part of that statement might be a bit wide of the mark.

Autocar, on the other hand, would encourage you not to judge this car by association, because the new Corsa SRi is actually a rather decent warm hatch.

For £13,625 (bang in Fiesta ST territory) you get a detuned, 148bhp version of the Corsa VXR’s 1.6-litre turbo motor, suspension lowered by 18mm at the front and 15mm at the rear and variable assistance for the power steering.

The SRi also gets a modestly aggressive body kit and a quartet of pretty five-spoke alloys. Inside, there are sports seats with red detailing, a red and black leather steering wheel and, err, ‘sporty’ red seatbelts. For £610 more, you can also get a 123bhp 1.7-litre turbodiesel version.

What’s it like?

The changes to the chassis are pitched just right, making the car feel crisper than cooking models without compromising the ride quality too much. The variable assistance steering’s pretty sharp, too – certainly better than the anodyne helm of more lowly Corsas.

Hit the loud pedal and the good news continues – up to a point. The SRi is fast enough, hitting 60mph in 7.6sec and topping out at 130mph, but the otherwise smooth and lag-free 1.6 starts to feel strained as the revs rise.

Should I buy one?

Just like every other Corsa (VXR excluded), the SRi feels like a mature, sophisticated device rather than a chuckable nutcase. A Fiesta ST it is not, so if you’re looking for out-and-out fun from your pocket rocket, look elsewhere.

But if you want a sensible and good-looking hatch that can turn a smile when required, you could do far worse.

Matt Rigby

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gazza5 20 September 2008

Re: Vauxhall Corsa SRi

Had thsi car for 3 months now and is a craking little motor. Wanted something quick but not too in your face like a VXR or Honda Civic. Fuel consumption isn't great but that is the only downside to this car. Vauxhall hasn't sold many either so quite exclusive due to the VXR styling pack that is standard. Also very easy to get £1,400 off the list price - I did and probably should of gone for more!