Putting fun back into driving

Opel Corsa 2011
Opel Corsa 2011

TO THE uninitiated, the Vauxhall Corsa might seem a very ordinary car.

Drive one and you’ll realise it’s anything but.

At £9,995-£18,145 Vauxhall’s Corsa offers a feeling of quality and solidity that’s unparalleled in the supermini class at any price.

Couple that with refreshed styling, a range of economical engines and a much improved ride and handling setup and you have a very convincing proposition. Small wonder sales remain strong.

The Corsa has always been a safe and steady handler, instead drawing on its other attributes to impress customers.

Yes, there is the ripsnorting VXR model that has long attempted to put one over on the Renaultsport Clio, but by and large the Corsa never forged much of a reputation as an entertaining steer.

Vauxhall aims to change that with a raft of chassis upgrades on this latest car. Revised front suspension means less roll when entering corners and better suppression of bumps.

The steering has been fettled as well and the ESP stability control system has been re-tuned to make it smarter and less intrusive.

There’s a huge array of engine choice. First up on the petrol menu are the 1.0-litre, 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre units which now produce 64bhp, 84bhp and 99bhp respectively.

The smaller petrol units can feel a little overwhelmed by the Corsa’s bulk but one that doesn’t is the 189bhp 1.6-litre VXR variant. Able to hit 60mph in less than seven seconds and with a 140mph top speed, it doesn’t lack muscle.

No modern supermini can get by without decent diesel engines and Vauxhall fortunately have two at their disposal.

The 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel spearheads the line up, with a budget 1.3-litre CDTi acting as the entry level option in 74, 89 and 94bhp guises.

The big change that most will notice is that the Corsa has, in true celeb style, received a new face.

Meriva-style ‘Eagle-Eye’ headlamps with chrome finish and daytime running lights are fitted and the chrome detailing also extends to the fog lights.

Since its introduction, Vauxhall has continuously fettled and polished the Corsa, turning it from a good car into an outstanding one.

Those not acquainted with its talents may well not recognise quite how far Vauxhall has come in developing it and unwittingly choose something inferior instead, but the sales figures suggest that, in this case at least, the British public know a good thing when they see one.

With solid build quality, sharpened driving manners, a fresher face and some of the most economical engines on offer anywhere, the Corsa more than stacks up.

Factor in prices which usually undercut far less sturdy opposition and it’s a small car that needs no excuses.

Some will baulk at buying a car that’s quite so ubiquitous but, on occasion, it’s best to shelve the badge snobbery and just reward a very good product.