Vauxhall Corsa-e: the CAR lowdown | CAR Magazine
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Vauxhall Corsa-e: the CAR lowdown

Published: 04 October 2019

► New 2019 Vauxhall Corsa-e
► All-electric supermini derivative
► On sale early 2020 alongside ICE car

This is the all-electric version of Vauxhall’s Corsa hatchback that’s being introduced for this generation. It’ll sit alongside the Peugeot e-208 and DS3 e-Tense, which share the same electrified platform – and it’s aimed squarely at the likes of the latest Nissan Leaf.

It’s set to go on sale early 2020 for £26,490 after the Plug-in Car Grant has been applied, and it looks near-identical to its combustion engine brethren. You won’t be able to tell which is which from the front, with only the bespoke alloy wheels and ‘e’ badging on the B-pillar and tailgate spelling it out.

It’s telling that the company elected to reveal the electric Corsa first, signalling its importance as the world inexorably switches from oil to electrons.

The new Corsa-e certainly ushers in a clean new design, with more upright proportions and a shorter overhang. The car is also 48mm lower with a 28mm lower hip point for a lower driving position. A 28mm longer wheelbase means a smidge of extra cabin space.

More on the ICE Corsa here

Inside, Vauxhall has told us that everything you see and touch is of their design (not that of PSA origin), save for the trigger shifter on the auto gearbox and the Groupe-derived seven or 10.1-inch infotainment system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard, as will a digital instrument cluster. A huge barrage of safety aids will be available, too.

Corsa e plug

A 50kWh battery and a 100kW (134bhp and 192lb ft) motor means 211 miles of range under the WLTP cycle, which Vauxhall claims can be boosted by up to 40% by the Corsa-e’s Eco mode. A 0-31mph speed has been recorded at 2.8 seconds, while the 0-62mph sprint is dealt with in 8.1secs. Top speed is speed 93mph.

Customers with a three-phase 11kW/16amp charging wallbox at home can expect a full battery in just over five hours. If using a single-phase 7.4kW AC charger, expect charging times of approximately 8hrs and 30mins.

Owners will also be able to use a smartphone app to monitor the charging status and pre-condition their vehicle prior to driving. You can also delay your charging time to start later on after plugging it in.
Helping to top up charge on the move is the car’s regenerative braking system, with two levels of severity depending on driver preference.

Regular D mode brings a mild level of regeneration, allowing the Corsa-e to decelerate gently. Nudge that familiar-looking PSA gearlever down to B mode and this doubles the level of regeneration, working all the way down to 5 mph.

Three drive modes are also available with Eco, Normal and Sport, with varying amounts of power output for each one:

Eco reduces power down to 82hp and 180Nm of torque, with a slower throttle response to match. Normal mode means you’ll be driving with 110hp and 220nm of torque, while Sport is where you’ll find the full 136hp and 260Nm, along with weighted up steering to suit.

Top speed remains the same in all modes, but the two detuned maps can also be overruled with full-throttle application for emergency use.

Little compromise in the cabin compared with ICE Corsa

Due to the CMP platform, the electric powertrain does not intrude on passenger or luggage space, with the batteries neatly stowed away under the front and rear seats, and transmission tunnel where the exhaust would normally be found. This means there’s 309 litres of boot space (up from 285) – and that’s the same for the combustion engine cars, with the only compromise being you can’t have a spare wheel any more, as the wheel well is taken up by EV hardware.

Corsa e interior

Passengers won’t have to compromise either. We were able to sit behind a 6ft tall driver in the rear seats, which already beats the latest Renault Clio, with space for feet beneath the front seats. You also don’t suffer from the raised floor as you’d find in the Renault Zoe.

Our pre-production model also had the optional panoramic roof fitted and it wasn’t too detrimental on headroom thanks to a raised cut-out just above the passenger’s head. The high side sills might make getting out of the Corsa a bit tricky, though. Engineers also claim the new Corsa has the best aero yet, thanks, in part, to the lower roofline and flat under body.

Despite the extra 300kg worth of EV hardware adding to the Corsa’s weight, this new model started off by being 110kg lighter than the outgoing model in the first place. There’s a 50kg chunk removed from the body, 10kg from the seats and the aluminium bonnet itself shaves 3kg – despite being larger than the outgoing model’s. The brakes have also been upgraded to deal with the extra weight, but we don’t expect the Corsa-e to feel hugely different to drive from the ICE version.

Here are the best electric cars you can buy right now

Vauxhall has sold 2.1 million Corsas in the UK since 1993. Across Europe, make that more than 13m. So electrifying this popular small car seems like a clever step – propelling Vauxhall from also-ran to class-competitive at a stroke.

Corsa rear

Two trim levels will be available, with top-spec Elite models coming with the larger 17-inch alloy wheels seen here, and full LED matrix headlights fitted with a new light-sensing camera for better reaction times for approaching traffic.

We expect to see a wide range of exterior colour combinations that made the outgoing model so popular, but we already know the Corsa-e will at least have the option to come with a black or cream white roof – stay tuned for further spec details.

The first 500 customers will receive a free PodPoint Wallbox charger for when they’re charging at home, and a free 6 month subscription to the Polar public charging network for when they’re away.
The Corsa-e will also come with the firm’s 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty for the battery.

There’s a rally one, too?

Corsa e rally

How do you make your electric vehicle (EV) more interesting? If you’re VW, you build a race-spec hill-raider, paint on the same headlights as your roadgoing electric car and then break some irrelevant lap records with the ID R. But if you’re Opel/Vauxhall you slap a few stickers on your supermini – and make it an electric rally car. And then you launch a racing series with it.

This Corsa electric rally car will compete in the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup, which is beginning in summer 2020. Cars will produce a manageable 128bhp of power with 192lb ft of torque, and should cost around £46,000.

Anything else we know about Vauxhall’s electric range?

Well, Vauxhall has also confirmed that the next Mokka X will be electric when it’s revealed in 2020. Design-wise, it’ll be heavily inspired by the GT X Experimental concept. A new electric Vivaro van will come in 2020, and an electrified version of every model will be on sale by 2024.Further electric car reading

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The best hybrids, plug-ins and PHEVs

Wireless electric car charging

By Lawrence Cheung

Bauer Automotive's former senior staff writer; hot hatch hoarder, road trip hunter