Vauxhall Corsa SE 1.4 Turbo review

Turbos aren't just about performance these days and the Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Turbo is a petrol car for someone who likes easy and relatively low revs driving like a diesel, but with less noise. Quality has noticeably improved yet some models from the simplified range cost less than before. For today's town based lifestyles it scores strongly with the connected and navigation features it brings. There's plenty of other equipment too. A Ford Fiesta is a sharper drive but the Corsa rides well and is a restful companion on a long motorway haul.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

Turbo-charging a small engine gives you the power of a bigger one and, providing you don't use the power too often, the fuel consumption of the smaller one. Vauxhall's fourth generation Corsa is available with a revamped, turbo-charged 1.4 litre four-cylinder unit with power characteristics which are more diesel than petrol. Maximum torque of 148 lb ft arrives at just 1,850rpm and maximum power of 99bhp at 3,500rpm. It's quickish off the mark with 0-62mph covered in 11 seconds, while the tall gearing lets it run to 115mph given the space. As you near 4,500rpm though the power is tailing off and it's time to change up a gear, rather like with a diesel. Acceleration feels adequate rather than exciting and at times the extreme eco three-cylinder engine feels sportier though obviously it actually is slower. Turbos have a slower response to the accelerator pedal.

HANDLING

The latest Corsa has new suspension components which have lowered the car's centre of gravity by five centimetres so it feels more stable in tighter corners. A stiffer front sub-frame means the car feels more precise even if you choose the softer, comfort suspension rather than the sport set-up which comes if you order the bigger 17-inch diameter wheels. The power steering is electrically assisted and has been adjusted to cope with UK roads and a more enthusiastic driving style but is still light. The wider tyres would add some (welcome) weight to it. The car understeers less entering corners though and that is an improvement. Straight line stability on a motorway is still good.

BODY STYLE

A Corsa is a Corsa is a Corsa, but the sculptural design from British stylist Mark Adams, as seen on the bigger Insignia, is clearly here, and includes touches such as the 'blade' shape running across the lower door-sections. All the body panels have been changed compared to the Mk III even though Vauxhall used the same 'floorpan' to keep down costs to buyers. It certainly drives and feels like a new car. The five-door models are less sporty looking than the three-door versions. Front space is very good for the class and adults will also find it easy to access the rear seats on five-door models. LED daytime running lights are standard fit. Length 4,021mm. Width 1,746mm (1,944mm including mirrors)

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Vauxhall Corsa interior

Though tall I was able to get a good driving position in the Corsa and was grateful some mornings for the fast warmth of the heated seat and steering wheel before the heating system cranked up. Lumbar support could be better though for longer journeys. Front and rear space is good for the class of car. Clutch, brakes and steering are all light and I would prefer more weight and feel to them. A City mode button increases power assistance to the steering at low speeds, while hill start assist holds the brakes on for a couple of seconds after the driver has taken their foot off the brake pedal. A following distance indicator gives the distance to the vehicle in front in seconds to warn about being too close. Touch-screen based information and entertainment systems are all the rage, but prove distracting to the driver in a busy environment. Thankfully there are audio controls on the pleasant to use leather rimmed steering wheel. The rear bench seat folds 60/40. With the rear seat backs folded the carrying capacity is 1,120 litres.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

The official laboratory fuel test combined economy figure is 55.4 MPG and we managed a real world overall best over several hundred miles of 45.2 MPG. I was not surprised that this was better than the 43.8 MPG we achieved last year in similar poor, wet and windy weather conditions in the "economy champion" 1.0 litre Ecotec because you do not need to work the engine so hard to keep up with traffic in the 1.4 Turbo. The latter's natural torque makes it easier to drive in a comfortable power band, straining the engine less and achieving about four-fifths of the official fuel economy total, rather than the two-thirds achieved in the 1.0 litre. This version of the Corsa sits in band C for road tax, with no payment for the first year and then £30 per annum after that. Main service intervals are every 12,500 miles. The Corsa is covered by a three years/60,000 miles warranty.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

This new version of Vauxhall's 1.4 litre turbo engine is designed for maximum fuel efficiency in everyday motoring and will 'pull' in high gears from relatively low engine revs. Vauxhall says the manual gearbox has reduced internal friction for better fuel economy. The 1.4 litre Turbo engine emits 119 g/km CO2, a figure helped by the car's stop/start engine system and the Corsa's shift indication assist, letting drivers know the best time to change gear.
According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 39.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Using Vauxhall's IntelliLink infotainment system you can download the BringGo navigation app. The map data is installed on your smartphone, so that a smartphone broadband connection is not needed when navigating. BringGo uses the smartphone's GPS to locate the Corsa. Corsa buyers can choose from options including blindspot alert, high beam headlamp assistance and lane departure warning. Bi-xenon lights provide good night time vision though some road users coming the opposite direction were not so impressed. A rear-view camera helps reversing but takes getting used to as such systems have different range settings. Big car features include bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light and LED daytime running lights. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front windscreen, air conditioning, tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control, steering wheel mounted audio controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity. A proper spare wheel is on the options list though.

MODEL SUMMARY

Vauxhall Corsa rear

Model tested: Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Turbo SE
Body-style: Five-door supermini
Engine / CO2: 99bhp 1364cc, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine / 119 g/km
Trim grades: SRi, Energy, SE

On-road price: From £13,550. Price as tested £14,400
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 stars

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Vauxhall Corsa details

Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:13th Jan 2016

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