Opel Corsa grows up gracefully
A far cry from the original cheapie, the refined new Corsa is still a fun drive
For a while now it has been difficult for Opel fanatics to fathom what happened to their brand.
First eschewed by General Motors, it was picked up by the French PSA group which now finds itself a part of the new Stellantis group that includes Fiat, Citroën, Dodge, Maserati and more. Will it be obvious where the new Opel Corsa fits?
It’s certainly larger than ever now in its sixth generation and we are told it’s also the lightest in its segment at 980kg. That segment is where the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and many others ply their trade, including its Citroën C3 group cousin, on which the Corsa’s heavily based.
True, there’s a discernible lightness in its posture and Peugeot-Citroën DNA throughout. The switch gear and digital instrument binnacles inside the 2,450mm wheelbase are a big give away. Space is plentiful but the interior styling is drab compared to its Gallic counterparts.
Features found in the high-spec 1.2 Elegance model on test are virtually identical to the C3 1.2 Shine. Key differentiators are the availability of extra luxuries such as seat warmers, park distance control and high-beam assist in the Opel, but on paper the two cars are similar. It’s under the skin where the nuances become apparent.
The Corsa uses PSA’s 1.2l three-cylinder turbo motor linked to a six-speed automatic but with output bumped up to 96kW and 230Nm versus 81kW and 205Nm of the C3.
How does the Corsa shape up with French Botox? It may be a typical segment cruise and an easy steer in the suburbs but it’s surprisingly brisk. This is where the lightweight construction investment pays dividends as it corners with skill, demonstrating good grip in corners for a car devoid of performance-enhancing button modes, all this while serving up respectable bursts of speed down any road.
The resultant performance is 8.7 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 208km/h while it consumed on average 7.6l/100km.
The new Corsa’s design has polarised opinion but I find it fabulously styled on the outside. The front section is low and wide unlike the bulging and raised bonnets of its new cousins. The attractive arrangement of its headlights is also not reminiscent of either Peugeot or Citroën while a sizeable rear spoiler turns on the aggression. The design part, and the wonderful chassis tweaking, is clearly the work of Opel engineers.
The new Corsa is far removed from the first model to hit SA with its cute bulbous shape and cheap-as-air pricing and running costs.
It’s a grown-up that falls within the sea of conventionality currently found between the R300K-400K price range, which are mostly high-end models of the stock liked by rental companies. But we can be thankful that it’s at least well specified and rewarding to drive fast with excellent roadholding, an Opel signature.
Having six airbags and traction control also bodes well for customers looking for peace of mind in the segment while others will like it for what it really is, which is a usable, handsome and sophisticated sprinter.
Type: Six-speed auto
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: 208km/h
0-100km/h: 8.7 sec (as claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 6.3l/100km (as claimed), 7.6l/100km (as tested)
Park distance control, central locking, electric folding mirrors, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, auto on/off lights, cruise control, high beam assist, climate control, heated seats front, multifunction steering wheel controls, rain sensor wipers, USB port, ABS brakes, stability control, six airbags
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Three years/120,000km
Service Plan: Three years/45,000km
Lease*: R8,315 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Opel Corsa 1.2 Elegance
Looks, luxury features, performance, agility
Interior styling is a little drab
An exciting enough hatch alternative
****Value For Money
Citroën C3 1.2 Shine, 81kW/205Nm — R324,900
Hyundai i20 Active 1.4 Fluid, 73kW/133Nm — R330,400
Ford Fiesta 1.0T Trend Auto, 74kW/170Nm — R351,000
Kia Rio 1.4 TEC Auto,73kW/135Nm — R361,995
Mazda2 1.5 Hazumi Auto, 85kW/148Nm — R368,900
Nissan Micra Tekna Plus, 84kW/180Nm — R388,900
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4T Auto, 103kW/230Nm — R356,900
Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI Highline auto, 85kW/200Nm — R369,300
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