Review and road test of the Vauxhall Corsa GSi
The GSi variant aims to deliver a bit of the attitude at the top of Vauxhall's Corsa range. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review of the Vauxhall Corsa GSi
The Corsa GSi can't match the 1.6-litre turbocharged punch of its VXR predecessor but its 150PS 1.4-litre turbo engine still promises a spirited package. And of course it's far more efficient to run than that old VXR ever was. But you don't buy a sporting hatch for its efficiency figures. What else can this on offer?
Here in the UK, we do love an underdog and on that basis, we ought to be all over the Vauxhall Corsa GSi. This 1.4-litre 150PS model costs £19,000, the kind of money that would get you an entry-level Ford Fiesta ST with 200PS and not much less than you'd pay for segment big-hitters like the Peugeot 208 GTi and the Renaultsport Clio. Can this Vauxhall's proposition add up? We're here to find out.
Power comes from an entirely predictable source, namely a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, in this case sending 150PS through the front tyres via a short-ratio six-speed manual box. When it comes to performance figures, you can forget Fiesta ST comparisons, but a fairer pitch against Suzuki's similarly-priced 140PS Swift Sport makes more sense. This Vauxhall's sprint to 62mph time is 8.9s (0.8s slower than the Swift) but its top speed of 129mph is very similar.
The chassis that undergirds this GSi is borrowed from the old VXR - which is welcome news. With this warm hatch design though, there's no aggressive Drexler limited-slip differential, big Brembo brake discs or punchy damper settings though; it plays to a different, more conservative crowd. At least the 1.4-litre engine is a willing one, putting out 220Nm of torque. Between 2,750 to 4,500rpm, this helps the car to accelerate from 50-70mph in fifth gear in just 9.9 seconds.
Design and Build
The GSi comes only in three-door form and tries to set itself apart with 17-inch bi-colour cut alloy wheels, a bespoke rear roof spoiler, a sports front grille and more aggressive air dam, bumper and side sill treatment than you'll find on the lesser 'SRi' model. The GSi also gets dark tinted rear windows, carbon effect finishing for the exterior mirrors and grille bar, plus LED daytime running lights.
Inside, there are sports-style front seats and a leather-covered flat-bottom steering. Otherwise, it's like any other Corsa inside and what really impresses is the feeling of solidity. A driver control centre takes pride of place within the instrument panel, which is themed around horizontal lines. In the back, this Corsa is much as it always was, remaining one of the more spacious superminis you can buy with plenty of room for two fully-grown adults - or three children. Out back, there's a 285-litre boot.
Market and Model
The £19,000 price tag attached to this Corsa GSi carries is certainly ambitious - but no more so than the tag that Suzuki has attached to this car's closest market rival, the Swift Sport. And you get plenty of equipment - the body kit, the 17-inch alloys, the dark tinted windows, the sports seats and so on. Plus inside, an IntelliLink infotainment set-up, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, completes the package.
Safety systems include six airbags and stability control, but should you want to go further, you can option in Side Blindspot Alert, High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning and a rear-view camera.
Cost of Ownership
The Corsa GSi makes some fairly unexceptional economy and emissions numbers. Vauxhall reckon it will manage a combined 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and 139g/km of CO2 - about the same as you'd get from the more powerful Fiesta ST. In comparison, a Suzuki Swift Sport offers much the same kind of fuel consumption (50.4mpg) but better CO2 emissions (125g/km). Some recompense will come in the fact that the Corsa has a slightly better warranty than the Ford.
You'll also need to know that Vauxhall includes a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty as standard, a package that can be extended up to five years and 100,000 miles at extra cost. A year's free breakdown cover is also provided, along with a six-year anti-corrosion guarantee. Service intervals are at 20,000 miles or every 12 months, depending on which comes round sooner and you can opt for a service plan that lets you pay monthly to spread the cost of regular work to your car. As part of this, Vauxhall offers discounts on wear and tear items, such as brake pads and windscreen wipers.
In some ways, Vauxhall has done a solid job with this car. It's distinctive looking, its 1.4-litre turbo engine is torquey and willing and you'll probably get a great deal up front. The cabin looks good and the standard IntelliLink system is a very slick multimedia interface. All these things will be important to potential buyers. Perhaps more important than tyre-squealing handling heroics.
It's rare to find a manufacturer who really listens to customers. Most are arrogant enough to presume that they can lead and make a market, but the GSi shows that Vauxhall has really listened to what its buyers wanted. The issue of course is still that for not much more, other rivals offer more performance. But if you don't need that and have an eye on the bottom line though, this Vauxhall could still add up for you. Every underdog has its day.
Vauxhall Corsa GSi review by Jonathan Crouch