Review and road test of the Vauxhall Corsa (2018 - 2019)
QUESTIONS OF CORSA
By Jonathan Crouch
In mid-2018, Vauxhall still had a year to go until the fifth generation 'Corsa F' version of its Corsa supermini would be launched. To give the 'Corsa E' version a bit of extra shelf life, the brand gave it a final wash 'n brush-up, refining the engine range down to variants of an improved version of its 1.4-litre petrol powerplant and enhancing the value proposition on offer. Here, we look at these last-of-the-line Corsa E models as a potential used car buy.
3&5dr Hatch [1.4, 1.4 Turbo petrol - 75,90,100,150PS]
The fourth generation version of Vauxhall's Corsa was originally launched in 2014 and had a much tougher job than its predecessors because it was no longer the brand's most compact model, Vauxhall by now also selling two smaller cars - the Viva and the ADAM - in its line-up. Nevertheless, this 'Corsa E' design sold steadily - and benefitted in mid-2018 from some changes on the engine front, extra equipment across the range and the addition of a new hot hatch flagship model, the GSi.
What You Get
This fourth generation Corsa was essentially a re-skin of the previous third generation version, but in mid-2018, it still looked quite fresh, especially when dressed up a bit - as most variants tended to be. At the front, 'eagle eye'-shaped headlamps incorporate Vauxhall's signature 'wing'-style LED daytime running lights. Between them is a low, sporty trapezoidal grille with a chrome bar for the Griffin badge that sits above front fog lamps embedded in chrome-trimmed air inlets that are intended to make the car look wider, lower and more purposeful.
Which is certainly the profile demeanour of the three-door version, always supposed to be the sportier of the two Corsa bodystyles. That's further emphasised by an upper window line that drops to the rear in an effort to make the car look coupe-like. On the slightly more conservative-looking five-door version, the beltline extends upwards, creating a more dynamic connection with the roof spoiler.
Drop inside and you'll find an instrument panel themed around horizontal lines and featuring in most models a 7-inch Intellilink infotainment colour touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dash and is smartly mounted in a high-gloss surround. 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 - in the five-door model. Inevitably the three door body shape is a little more claustrophobic. Out back, there's a 285-litre boot.
What to Look For
We found plenty of satisfied MK4 Corsa customers, but inevitably, there were some who had issues. One owner had to have a new seat frame because the original one wouldn't go back to its original position. And his engine needed new timing chain and sprockets and a tensioner at just 12,000 miles, then had to replace them all again at 26,000 miles. He then found the horn had failed and that the windows kept operating on their own..
In another case, a Corsa needed its brake shoes replacing after just three months and developed a major water leak. This is apparently a known fault and it's worth checking under the carpet on the driver's side where the VIN number is to make sure the area is dry. Otherwise, it's the usual things; insist on a fully stamped-up service history. Check the alloys carefully for parking scrapes. And examine the interior plastics for signs of general child abuse.
(approx based on a 2018 Corsa 1.4 75bhp - Ex Vat) An air filter costs around £9-£10. Front brake discs cost in the £30 to £90 bracket. Rear brake discs cost in the £40 to £72 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £25 to £60 bracket for a set. A set of rear pads is around £60. Wiper blades can cost as little as £10. A radiator can be had for around £100. An oil filter costs in the £5 to £6 bracket.
On the Road
The revised version of the MK4 'Corsa E' model launched in mid-2018 was built entirely around versions of Vauxhall's improved Euro 6.2-compliant 1.4-litre petrol engine - so there was no sign of the diesels or the 1.0, 1.2 or 1.6-litre petrol units that had previously been offered. Buyers did though, get the choice of either 5 or 6-speed manual gearboxes or an automatic. And they could have the 1.4-litre powerplant in normally aspirated form with either 75 or 90PS - or with a turbo with either 100PS or (in the top GSi) with 150PS.
The Corsa has always been a pretty entertaining steer and it's helped in this regard by a low centre of gravity, a stiff front sub-frame and sharp suspension geometry. This features special front knuckles, plus carefully chosen spring rates and dampers to reduce the pitching movement you'd normally get at the front during sharp braking manoeuvres. Following the current trend, the steering system is electrically-powered and is speed-sensitive with a UK-specific tune to cater for our roads. That's not enough to enable this car to offer the kind of precise feedback you'd get in, say, a Ford Fiesta. But as standard with this set-up, you do get something which most owners will probably find a lot more useful, namely a clever 'City' mode that makes low speed manoeuvring and parking far simpler.
What we're looking at here is a Corsa that can. It can be fun to drive. It can deliver a big car feel. And it can deliver the kind of trendy media connectivity that younger buyers are looking for. It's a small Vauxhall for which no apologies need to be made. It's not perfect of course. It doesn't lead the class from its era in terms of either space, efficiency or driving dynamics. And you don't get a cutting edge engine range. Overall though, this Vauxhall is there, or thereabouts in the three key areas just mentioned if you're looking for an affordable supermini from the 2018-2109 era. Add to that the wide model line-up and the likely deals on offer and you've a small car that needs to remain prominent on any family's shopping list.
Vauxhall Corsa (2018 - 2019) review by Jonathan Crouch