Ford Fiesta vs Opel Corsa: Small Hatchback Twin Test
The Opel Corsa takes on the Ford Fiesta in my small hatchback twin test.
The Ford Fiesta is consistently one of the bestselling small cars in Ireland. Sometimes popular cars are not always the critic’s choice, but no worries about the Fiesta – it’s universally regarded as a damn good supermini.
The Opel Corsa is another perennial favourite and with the recent arrival of the fifth generation Corsa, I thought it would be a good time to compare these two small hatchbacks side by side.
Click on the links above to read the individual reviews or scroll down for the twin test.
Note: The Opel Corsa and Ford Fiesta models I drove are not direct rivals in terms of engines and power outputs, but I will make allowances for that in the Driving section below.
In 2013, the Ford Fiesta got a facelift, making it the first in the European Ford range to wear Ford’s new trapezoidal grille. The effect of this facelift should not be underestimated; the new grille lifts the whole look of the car.
And that’s something that can be said for the Opel Corsa too. The Corsa’s new wider, lower grille is the most obvious exterior styling change for the new Corsa and it gives the car so much more presence compared to the old model. Elsewhere, new body panels with more sculpting, and new rear light clusters, give the Corsa some contemporary style.
Is the Fiesta or the Corsa better looking? I couldn’t possibly say but both definitely sport an attractive design so no one’s a loser.
Inside, things are much easier to call. The Opel Corsa has a brand new interior that feels classy, well-built and contemporary. The cabin in the Fiesta looks more austere when compared with that in the Corsa, and a myriad small buttons to operate the radio is off-putting. Still, the controls and switches in the Fiesta are nicely damped, and the white illuminated dials with blue needles step things up a notch in the Fiesta’s favour.
But the interior of the Opel Corsa just feels a bit cooler, a bit more premium, especially with the touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment system.
Both cars are available as three or five door models, and the two tested here are five door models. Space-wise, up front there is little to differentiate the Corsa from the Fiesta, but in the rear the Corsa feels more spacious and the higher roof line allows very generous headroom.
The boot is a teeny bit larger in the Corsa compared to the Fiesta (285 litres vs 276 litres), but both have a high load lip, and the Ford carries a spare wheel, while the Corsa goes with just a tyre repair kit. The rear seats can be folded down in both cars, but they don’t fold down flat in either and a 60/40 split folding rear bench is not standard on the Corsa. With the rear seats folded, the Corsa offers a bit more space at 1100 litres, compared to 960 litres in the Fiesta.
I was really impressed with the Corsa’s road-holding ability, comfort and steering. Opel has given the Corsa a new chassis, suspension and updated the steering, so all together, it’s a more sophisticated drive for the Corsa compared to the previous model. The Ford Fiesta is still the more fun to drive of the duo; it feels more elastic, more agile and the steering is sharper.
There is a good choice of diesel and petrol engines available for both the Corsa and the Fiesta (see Engines & Economy below) and a manual or automatic gearbox is available for both. The Fiesta I drove had the 1.0 litre 65PS EcoBoost (non-turbo) petrol engine, and despite only 65PS and a 0-100kmh sprint time of a lazy 16.8 seconds, this engine is so much better than you would think. It has a lovely three cylinder thrum, loves to be revved and is really brilliant around town. In official terms, it returns just over 65mpg, though rev it too much and you will see a dip in economy. Turbo versions of the award-winning 1.0 litre EcoBoost are available for the Fiesta, but they do command quite a high list price.
My Corsa was fitted with the 1.4 litre 90PS petrol engine that has been brought forward from the old model and sits alongside the old 1.2 litre petrol and 1.3 litre diesels. Two new 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol engines have been added to the Corsa range with 90PS or 115PS. They sit at the top of the range so are quite pricey – though they are very enjoyable to drive. Nonetheless, the 1.4 litre petrol does a good job in the Corsa. There’s plenty of power for town and motorway driving, it’s nicely refined too and returns 55mpg.
Engines & Economy
(Some are model specific so check availability with manufacturer)
|1.0 EcoBoost 65PS||Petrol||99g/km||65.7mpg||1.2i 70PS||Petrol||126g/km||52.3mpg|
|1.0T EcoBoost 100PS||Petrol||99g/km||65.7mpg||1.4i 90PS||Petrol||120g/km||55.4mpg|
|1.0T EcoBoost 125PS||Petrol||99g/km||65.7mpg||1.0i Turbo 90PS||Petrol||104g/km||64mpg|
|1.25 60PS||Petrol||122g/km||54.3mpg||1.0i Turbo 115PS||Petrol||115g/km||57.7mpg|
|1.25 82PS||Petrol||122g/km||54.3mpg||1.3CDTi 75PS||Diesel||100g/km||74.3mpg|
|1.5 TDCi 75PS||Diesel||98g/km||76.4mpg||1.3CDTi 95PS||Diesel||87g/km||85.6mpg|
|1.6 TDCi 95PS||Diesel||95g/km||85.6mpg|
There are four trim levels for the Opel Corsa – S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition – and four for the Ford Fiesta – Fiesta, Zetec, Zetec-S and Titanium. Base models for both Corsa and Fiesta get notables like tyre pressure monitoring system, front electric windows and mirrors, and hill start assist, though the Corsa gets remote central locking – you will have to stick the key in the lock to engage the central locking on the entry level Fiesta! But the Fiesta has steering wheel mounted audio controls as standard – you have to go up a trim level for those in a Corsa.
Still there are more treats in both once you start going up the trim levels. Just one step up from entry level, the Fiesta Zetec I drove had notables like alloy wheels, front fog lights, and Bluetooth. The Corsa does slightly better when you take a step up from entry level to Excite trim – as well as the alloy wheels, Bluetooth and front fog lights, you get LED daytime running lights and cruise control. Cruise control is an option for the Ford Fiesta. Air con is standard on SE trim in the Corsa and Titanium trim in the Fiesta. With regards to infotainment, I find Opel’s Intellilink to have a more attractive interface and be a bit more user friendly than Ford’s Sync system. Both are standard on some models, or can be added as an option.
The Ford Fiesta and Opel Corsa are equally capable superminis in terms of space, practicality, and drive but there are a few marked differences between them. The Corsa has a more attractive and functional interior and is that bit more spacious in the back. Both are good cars to drive, but the Fiesta is more exciting. The two are competitively priced and you can pick up a well-specced Corsa or Fiesta in the region of €16,000-€18,000. But you will likely want to spend a bit extra for a car with more equipment.
Now which are you going to buy? Well, you may indeed fall for the charms of the Opel Corsa’s cabin. It’s where you spend most of your time for sure and the quality, attractive design, straightforward infotainment and overall execution is a major plus for the Corsa. The improvements to the car under the skin and availability of good, frugal engines mean the Opel Corsa is a far from disappointing drive.
However, if you are the type of driver that wants the best driving small hatchback, the one with that extra bit of sparkle, there’s only one option and that’s the Ford Fiesta. It feels far sportier than its demure exterior might suggest; there is athleticism about the way it dances around corners and pin sharp steering enhances your connection to the road. There is a good engine line-up too and one of the EcoBoost petrols would make a perfect mate for this baby Ford!
|Opel Corsa 1.4i Excite||Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost (non-turbo) Zetec|
|Engine||1.4 litre four cylinder petrol||1.0 litre three cylinder petrol|
|0-100kmh||13.2 secs||16.8 secs|
|Tax||€200 per year||€180 per year|