Vauxhall Corsa – All grown up

Ian Lamming goes the extra mile in Vauxhall’s latest Corsa.

OVER 1,000 miles, in a week, in a tiny little hatchback? Exhausted? Moi? Well, actually no. Strange.

Vauxhall Corsas, aren’t they supposed to be town cars, family runarounds, or come with lowered suspension and fat exhausts to be down with the kidz (and that’s spelled with a z)?

Thing is, new Corsa has grown up somewhat, become a bit more capable, sophisticated, seasoned.

It’s bigger, like an Astra of yesteryear, but it’s lighter thanks to lots of aluminium and the engines are super-efficient.

But wait, I recognise that automatic gearlever. I’ve seen it before in a Peugeot, a 208 to be precise and things start to make sense. If it wasn’t for that Griffin badge on the steering wheel I’d think I was in a Pug and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But this is the much-loved-by-generations Corsa, Vauxhall’s best-selling car for many years – 2.1 million customers can’t be wrong since it was first launched in 1993.

With the fifth generation this loyal band of followers must surely swell as, if my experiences are anything to go by, they are not going to be disappointed.

Back to the weekly commute then, a good old mix of motorway, town and minor road driving and in every instance the Corsa excels.

This particular model is the Ultimate and the acid test for me is a stretch of road on the school run which goes up a long steep drag, where the breathless hog the crawler lane and those with lungs jockey for position before the two lanes merge into one at the top of the hill. It’s always a scrap.

Now it’s only a 1.2 and it only has three cylinders so I’m not too optimistic, yet I’m past the flotilla of white vans, I’ve overtaken a brace of medium sized hatchbacks and I’m on the tail pipes of an Aston Martin, no bother. That’s because the motor comes with a turbo to boost power to a useful 100PS and produce heaps of lovely torque. Nice.

The eight speed auto is also magnificent choosing the perfect ratio to stick the motor plum in its powerband. Dial in some very tasty suspension, positive steering and decent soundproofing and you have a car that excites and cossets at the same time.

The miles really do flash by with ease which gives you plenty of time to play with the considerable amount of tech offered by the infotainment and accessed via the large touchscreen – dab, swipe and pinch ’til your digits get sore.

Like I said, Corsa used to be a tiny town car but the new one is perfect to carry a gangly 12-year-old on the long commute to school complete with his huge kit bag, equally sizeable rucksack and daddy long legs-like appendages. If he does take time to look up from his phone – well, we live in hope – he zooms in on the touchscreen gubbins and shows me how it all works. Useful.

Looks-wise, Corsa is a bit more slabby and a bit less curvaceous than previous incumbents but thanks to nice paint finishes and a black roof actually looks smart enough.

Overall, I enjoyed the new Corsa much more than I thought I would. It proved to be an excellent drive being both fun and relaxing for more than 1,000 miles, which says it all.

Fact File

Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate

Engine: 1.2 three cylinder petrol turbo

Power: 100PS

0-62mph: 10.2 secs

Top speed: 119 mph

Combined MPG: 45.6

Transmission: eight speed automatic

CO2 g/km: 99

Price: £25,725.00