Opel Corsa 1.4-litre Petrol Excite Review

Opel Corsa Review

Opel Corsa Car Review

The Car: Opel Corsa 1.4i Excite 5 door

Price: €16,495 (Corsa range starts at €14,895)
Engine: 
1.4 litre four cylinder petrol
Power: 
90bhp
0-100km/h:  
13.2 seconds
Economy: 
55.3mpg (5.1l/100km)
CO2 Emissions:  
120g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

The pretty cobbled streets and tree-lined avenues of Paris were a fitting location for the debut of the stylish, new fifth generation Opel Corsa just before the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The launch was a real statement of intent by Opel and all the stops were pulled out to give the fifth generation of Opel’s bestselling small hatchback the best possible start in the world.

Aside from the smarter looks and a brand new interior, we were promised a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision, with a new chassis, suspension, steering and engines to deliver the goods.

I got a good impression of the car on our first drive of the Corsa in Ireland at the launch in November. Now it’s time to find out if the new Opel Corsa can really deliver, as I give it a thorough road test on Irish roads.

Watch my Opel Corsa video review:

Design

I’m happy to report that the new Opel Corsa can now definitely hold its own in fashionable company. The new lower, wider grille and new ‘wing’ shape headlamps at the front are a real highlight and give the Corsa the presence it needs to stand out and be memorable. I love the sculpting along the sides of the car (all the body panels are new), and there’s more definition at the rear too with new light clusters that lift the look of the car.Opel Corsa Review

Opel Corsa Review
A new grille and sharper styling all round gives the Corsa the presence it deserves

The test car was finished in a lovely metallic grey blue, which is more interesting to look at than grey and gave the car a grown-up, chic look. For the bold, you can choose red, lime green and even yellow – as well as some more conservative body colours. If you are prepared to sacrifice rear doors, the three door model looks particularly sporty with a more coupé-style roof line.

Opel Corsa Review
Opel Corsa: Rear head and legroom is good
Opel Corsa Review
Opel Corsa: Boot is a good shape and size

But stick with the five door model and you will be amazed by the rear headroom and easy access to the rear from the wide-opening doors. There is also generous legroom and a good sized boot of 285 litres. I would have no complaints about space in the Corsa by supermini standards.

The jewel in the crown is the Corsa’s brand new interior. It’s youthful , fresh and trendy with an interesting mix of surfaces and materials used, including classy gloss black and satin chrome. It looks particularly good with the 7” touchscreen fitted as part of the Intellilink infotainment system (more on that later). There’s a cool simplicity to the white-illuminated instrument dials and sporty steering wheel. For me, the essence of what makes it a great interior is that it’s glam without being over the top, and simple without being boring.

Opel Corsa Review
A brand new interior for the new Corsa!

Driving

Out on the road, the Corsa feels very solid and stable at speed and through corners. The car has a new chassis and Opel engineers have lowered the car’s centre of gravity by 5mm to make the car more stable.

There is also a new speed sensitive power steering system and Opel have worked hard to give us more “feel” in the steering. This was best tested on some of the country roads I always drive the test cars on – the kind of roads that swiftly show you how good a car’s steering and handling is. When you turn into a corner, the Corsa holds the road well and you can really feel the connection between the inputs you are putting on the steering wheel and what the wheels are doing. It’s very precise – I like that.

The Corsa has a new suspension and Opel has tweaked the damping characteristics to make it more comfortable. They’ve improved the roll behaviour and while there is a limit to how much speed the car can comfortably take as you are cornering, certainly on a country road driving within the speed limits you will not be disappointed. If it’s comfort you’re after, the Corsa coped well over pock marked roads and it took motorways in its stride too.

My test car was powered by a punchy 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol engine that has been brought forward from the old car. It’s well up for the job, with enough zip in the lower gears to make it nippy around town and it picks up speed easily on the open road with a good bit of flexibility in the gears so you are never too far away from the power.

Following the trend for squeezing more power from a smaller engine with the aid of a turbocharger, Opel has added a brand new 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol to the Corsa range, available with 90bhp or 115bhp. Both are mated to a new generation six speed manual gearbox. You can read more about what I thought about Opel’s new engines here. On paper, they are more economical, faster from 0-100kmh, and have a raspier engine note which petrolheads will love – but they are also more expensive and only available on top level trims in three and five door Corsa models.

Opel Corsa Review

Economy

There are a range of petrol and diesel engines with good economy and low running costs available for the Corsa. The 1.3 litre diesels have been reworked to make them more refined and responsive, and the 95bhp version has CO2 emissions as low as 87g/km. My 1.4 litre 90bhp petrol test car returns just over 55mpg from official sources and real world economy was not too far off that.

Equipment

There are four trim levels: S, Excite, SE and Limited Edition. Excite trim is expected to be popular with a spec including cruise control, alloys, front fog lights, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth included as standard. SE is a bit posher again and adds more equipment, and is exclusive to the five door model. Limited Edition is exclusive to the three door model and is OPC inspired with sporty touches to the interior and exterior, and a sports suspension under the skin.

The Intellilink infotainment system is standard on SE and Limited Edition, though it can be added as an option for €350. It offers connectivity with your smartphone and access to a selection of apps from a 7” touchscreen.

Our test car had a “Winter Pack” added for an extra €395 that included a heated steering wheel and heated front seats (awesome). It was also fitted with an electrically operated sunroof for €961. Though that might be an expensive treat too far, it did make the cabin brighter.

Verdict

The supermini segment is an extremely competitive one so does the Corsa have what it takes to compete at the top of its class?

I think so. There is a touch of class to the styling, while inside the cabin seems to combine the best parts of simple, intuitive design with a bit of glitz and glam. There are a great choice of engines, from frugal diesels to sparkly petrol power. It is a shame that the new turbo engines will be a little out of the budget range for most Corsa buyers but that said, I didn’t feel let down by the 1.4 litre petrol I tested, with enough power at disposal, matched with decent economy and refinement.

Best of all, the new Corsa feels like a very well-engineered car, without any of the compromises one might expect in ride quality for its small size – and steering that is as sharp as any keen driver would expect. In that respect I think Opel has achieved what they set out to do with this new Corsa – deliver a driving experience more comparable to a larger, more expensive car in terms of comfort and precision. The Corsa really has grown up.

Caroline Kidd

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