The latest version of the Corsa was styled to look as if its smiling. It should be able to put a smile on your face, too, even in super-sensible five-door form.
The Exclusiv we tested is second in a line of five spec levels. Its pretty sparse unless you get stuck into an options list which includes air-con, alloys and cruise control (£1025 between them). All three become standard on the SE and range-topping SRi. In between is the SXi; this gets the cruise and alloys, but air-con becomes optional again. Just nod along and dont try to understand. Other options include a sunroof, on the SE and up, and rear parking sensors on all but the poverty-spec S. ESP is only optional, too, but at least its available on every model.
More choices, sorry. The five-door Corsa range offers three petrol and three diesel engines, with most sales going to the 1.2 petrol tested here. Theres also a 1.0 unit whose 0-62 time is measured using a calendar, and a 1.4 that speeds things up a bit. The 1.3 CDTi diesel is livelier than it sounds, and theres also a 1.7 CDTi which sounds lively and is. The 1.2 and 1.4 have the option of an automatic gearbox. The 1.2 and 1.3 CDTi can be had in Start/Stop form, too, shaving a little more off their fuel consumption.
The Corsas cabin feels snug and well formed, though theres a sombreness to the dash materials and seat fabrics that smells a bit cheap. The plastics arent very touchy-feely, and theres no great creativity to the way the cabin space has been used. Its a better story in the back, where knee room is in good supply. A long trip with five adults would be pushing your luck, though. The rear seats fold down to leave a large step in the floor. Theres the clever option of a rear floor panel that can be set at two different heights to create a deep, short boot or a long, flat cargo bay, but for some reason this is only available towards the top of the range.
The 1.2-litre petrol engine is very quiet around town, though you need to rev it to get the car moving. Out on the open road, though, the peace is replaced by a breathless engine note and lots of wind noise. It feels like its working hard, and overtaking is a chore. Just tooling around on the road is no problem, though, with easy steering and well balanced handling making it a breeze to drive. It doesnt wallow around in corners, nor does it crash and shudder through pot holes. Its tidy enough to deserve a more exciting engine which describes any of the diesel options.
The Corsa wont depreciate violently, but the 1.2 will lose money faster than the diesel alternatives. Its cheaper to buy in the first place, though. It wont cost a fortune to keep taxed, insured and fuelled up, either. And Vauxhalls lifetime warranty is a very strong story indeed. Our main concern would be that the Corsa gets much better as you climb up the range. But it gets much more expensive, too. Theres loads of choice here but theyre choices you need to make wisely.