VAUX­HALL BACK IN THE DRIV­ING SEAT

The new Corsa zips ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion to be­come the best value small car on the mar­ket

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - ANDY ENRIGHT

IT’S al­ways been much the same when it comes to diesel su­per­mi­nis. In or­der to jus­tify the price pre­mium of a diesel en­gine, you need to be able to claw that back in terms of lower run­ning costs. Now that usu­ally works fine if you plan on cov­er­ing lots of miles, which is why mo­tor­way maulers like medium fam­ily hatches are al­most ex­clu­sively diesel-pow­ered th­ese days.

But what if you’re not plan­ning on putting In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion mileages on the clock? What if you’re just go­ing to use the car for trips to the shops, so­cial­is­ing and school runs? Af­ter all, that’s what most su­per­mi­nis are bought for. Can a diesel en­gine still make sense?

Vaux­hall is hop­ing the Corsa 1.3 CDTI diesel is a car that can pro­vide some con­vinc­ing an­swers to those ques­tions. Here, we’re go­ing to break out the cal­cu­la­tors and see if their num­bers add up. The lat­est Corsa looks to fi­nally be the car that can level with the Ford Fi­esta and in the diesel depart­ment, Gen­eral Mo­tors reck­ons it has the edge.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

There’s not one but two ver­sions of the 1.3-litre CDTI diesel to tempt UK buy­ers. The first is the 75PS it­er­a­tion while those de­mand­ing a bit more poke be­neath their boots will nat­u­rally be drawn to the 95 PS version. Both mod­els de­velop the same 190Nm of torque from just 1,750rpm, so you get that re­as­sur­ingly brawny pickup as soon as you pull away. They’re far from iden­ti­cal when you put a stop­watch on them though, the 75PS car ac­cel­er­at­ing to 62mph in 14.9 sec­onds and run­ning on to 101mph, while the 95PS version really lever­ages that ex­tra power in the up­per reg­is­ters, trim­ming the 62mph sprint down to 12.3 sec­onds and max­ing out at 110mph.

Un­der­pin­ning this lat­est fourth-gen­er­a­tion car is a com­pletely re­designed chas­sis with pre­cisely zero carry-over com­po­nents from the last model. It sports a 5mm lower cen­tre of grav­ity, a stiffer front sub-frame and a sharper sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try. The elec­tri­cally-as­sisted power steer­ing gets a ‘City’ mode for you to twirl around ef­fort­lessly when park­ing, but re­ceives a Uk-spe­cific tune to cater for our

roads. In­ter­nal fric­tion has been min­imised, as has un­der­steer.

Both Com­fort and Sport sus­pen­sion set-ups have im­proved dampers that aid ride qual­ity. Sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the Corsa’s 1.3 CDTI diesel en­gine have been made to bring it up to Euro 6 emis­sions stan­dards and two new six-speed gear­boxes — man­ual and au­to­matic — are avail­able, Vaux­hall claim­ing im­proved shift qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency.

De­sign and Build

Straight away you’ll spot sim­i­lar­i­ties to the front end of the ADAM model and that’s no co­in­ci­dence, this look­ing set to be­come the Vaux­hall fam­ily face for the fore­see­able fu­ture. That means a rounded, friendly look with a broader front grille than Cor­sas of old. The over­all pro­por­tion­ing isn’t that much of a de­par­ture, this car re­tain­ing the some­what tall and nar­row shape of the third gen­er­a­tion model.

It’s al­most iden­ti­cal in length but all of the car’s body pan­els are new and pro­vide greater def­i­ni­tion be­tween the ‘sporty’ look of the three-door and the ‘pre­mium’ five-door mod­els. Some of the de­tail­ing is quite as­sured, in­clud­ing the sculp­tural ‘ blade’ run­ning across the lower door-sec­tions. The 285-litre boot is big for the su­per­mini class.

Drop in­side and you’ll see even big­ger im­prove­ments. The old Corsa al­ways felt a solid thing but time hadn’t been kind to the ba­sic de­sign of the in­te­rior and this re­place­ment model rec­ti­fies that quite em­phat­i­cally. A driver con­trol cen­tre takes pride of place within the in­stru­ment panel, which is themed around hor­i­zon­tal lines. The fourth-gen­er­a­tion Corsa is also the first high-vol­ume Vaux­hall to be avail­able with In­tel­lilink, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem al­ready seen in the ADAM.

Mar­ket and Model

The 75PS diesel mod­els start at just over £13,000 in three-door ‘Life’ or ‘De­sign’ trim, with the 95PS mo­tor of­fered in the ‘De­sign’ trim for an­other £500. Both en­gines are then of­fered with the sportier ‘SRI’ and ‘VX Line’ des­ig­na­tions as well as the re­fined ‘SE’ model. Five-door cars tack an­other £500 onto those prices.

The en­try-level ‘Life’ trim gets a heated wind­screen, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill start as­sist, a stereo with an aux­il­iary in­put, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and elec­tric front win­dows. Quite why you’d buy a ‘Life’-spec­i­fied Corsa though, is a mystery as the plusher 70PS ‘De­sign’ vari­ant costs the same and also gets the In­tel­lilink au­dio sys­tem with dig­i­tal ra­dio, USB and Blue­tooth as well as six speak­ers and wheel-mounted con­trols.

Vaux­hall also in­clude leather trim for the wheel, cruise con­trol, a driver’s seat height ad­juster, air con­di­tion­ing, body-coloured door han­dles, LED day- time run­ning lights, front fog lights and 15-inch wheels on the ‘De­sign’. Some car-buy­ing de­ci­sions are tricky. That isn’t one of them. Op­tional safety sys­tems in­clude Side Blindspot Alert, High Beam As­sist, Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing, bi-xenon lights and a rear-view cam­era.

Cost of Own­er­ship

Now for the crunch. Would you pay nearly £13,000 for a 90PS 1.0-litre petrol Corsa (in ‘De­sign’ trim) or stump up nearly £1,000 more for the 95PS diesel version? Well straight away, you’re clearly get­ting a bit more power with the diesel and more than dou­ble the torque; in this case 190Nm for the diesel com­pared to a mere 90Nm for the petrol en­gine.

For some driv­ers, that might be worth the pre­mium. Fac­tor in three years fuel costs for the two cars and the bill

for that (even at a mod­est 7500 miles per an­num) comes to £2,257 for the petrol car and £1,457 for the diesel. That’s £800 right there — though what’s given with one hand is taken away with the other, as the 1.0-litre petrol car is cheaper to in­sure.

Cover 10,000 miles per year and the sums start to swing in favour of the diesel model. That’s not an un­re­al­is­tic mileage fig­ure for a Corsa and it’s a lot less than used to be the case. Time was when the break-even point for a diesel su­per­mini hov­ered around 90,000 miles cov­ered. With this Corsa, it’s around a third of that. The 95PS model’s tax-free 85g/ km and 88.3mpg on the com­bined cy­cle is an im­pres­sive show­ing.

Sum­mary

If there’s one word we’d use to sum up this fourth gen­er­a­tion Corsa, it would prob­a­bly be ‘prag­matic’. Vaux­hall has clearly been work­ing with a big bud­get for this model but as much as it would like us to think it’s all new, well, it’s just not.

That said, the com­pany has done really well and the changes do punt the Corsa into con­tention with the top mod­els in this class. Plus some quite sav­age price slash­ing has seen it look much bet­ter value. It prob­a­bly won’t al­ter what you ac­tu­ally pay, be­cause no­body really took Vaux­hall’s list pric­ing se­ri­ously be­fore, but at least now you cut some of the hag­gling time and the Corsa no longer looks such a dud in com­par­i­son tests.

The diesel en­gines are im­pres­sive, the 95PS unit es­pe­cially so. Quite why you wouldn’t spring the ex­tra £600 or so for the markedly quicker and more eco­nom­i­cal 95PS version of the en­gine would be a mystery to us. In 95PS guise it looks a real con­tender, un­der­cut­ting the Fi­esta by about a grand, model for model. That ought to be more than enough to punt it to the top of the sales charts.

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