Vauxhall Corsa 2020 long-term review

Two things always strike me about the Corsa when I drive it, one good and one debatable. First is the sophistication of the powertrain, a 99bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Given that this is a big-bodied supermini and that’s only a small engine, I can never quite get over the effortlessness of it.

The throttle response could do with some work, mind. When people unfamiliar with the Corsa drive it for the first time, it rather explodes away from standstill in an uncontrolled way, not through an excess of torque (although its pull is impressive) but because it’s not very intuitive. It gives more than you expect.

There’s so much about a car that needs subtle tuning nowadays; I find myself wondering whether the engine’s over-eagerness means it’s suited for a five- or six-speed manual gearbox rather than this auto with its torque converter and ultra-low first gear. You soon learn about it, though, and the problem departs forever.

Second is the ride, which seemed too knobbly at low speeds when the car arrived and, although I’m more used to it now, still doesn’t feel properly composed. Given that the Corsa is closely related under the skin to the new Peugeot 208, which people praise for suppleness, I can hardly wait to try the Pug to see how big the difference is between the two. No point in asking anyone to tell me: these things are personal.

Our plan would have had this car swapped by now for an electric Corsa-e, a car of many fascinations, but of course it has been delayed. An important impression for me will be its contribution to the ride comfort debate, given the presence of a 200kg battery pack. Enlightenment is still a couple of months away, it seems.

In the meantime, I bet we’ll go on preferring the Corsa for our shopping run, because it does an essential job very well – always its design purpose.

Love it:

Eight-speed auto I’m still getting used to its excellent blend of high-geared cruising and sparkling step-off – while delivering manual ’box-like fuel economy.

Loathe it:

rear seat room As a six-footer, I can just about sit ‘behind myself’, but that requires a big compromise in driving position.

Mileage: 4338

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Liking the automatic option – 6 May 2020

Hooray for the Corsa. I’m using it for the bulk of my lockdown motoring, a succession of short trips during which the engine barely gets warm, yet the fuel consumption stays well up around 45mpg and the fuel gauge never moves. The economy allowed by this car’s new-age eight-speed auto is totally at odds with the ‘slushmatics’ of old. Now, if we could just trim the option costs of automatics (this one’s standard on our fully loaded Corsa Ultimate but a £1570 extra on most), I reckon we’d have a good solution. Our Corsa has paddles: I don’t miss a stick-shift at all.

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