New Vauxhall Corsa gunning for Polo polish and Fiesta fizz

Published: 10 September 2019

► New 2020 Vauxhall Corsa family
► Petrol, diesel and full electric
► UK prices confirmed from £15,550

The new Vauxhall Corsa supermini is gunning for the class benchmarks of the VW Polo in quality and Ford Fiesta in dynamics, its makers told CAR magazine at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show. This fifth generation of Corsa will become the entry-level model of the range, as Vauxhall and Opel kill off the unprofitable Viva and Adam city cars.

The UK is challenging Germany as the model’s biggest market, accounting for a fifth of all sales and prices here will narrowly undercut its closest rival, the Ford Fiesta, it has emerged. The new Corsa will cost from £15,550 when first customer cars arrive in January 2020.

That figure snares you a 74bhp 1.2i SE petrol: this boggo model has a five-speed manual gearbox, 16-inch alloy wheels, 7-inch touchscreen radio, leather flat-bottom steering wheel and basic LED headlights. The cheapest diesel is the £17,560 1.5 D SE, while the all-electric Corsa costs £26,790. For comparison, Ford’s Fiesta range kicks off at £15,995 on today’s price lists.

Product manager Andrew Higgins told CAR that the new Corsa was developed in record time – it is just two years since PSA Peugeot Citroen acquired Vauxhall and Opel. ‘That was in August 2017 and here we are with the new Corsa in September 2019,’ he said. ‘It used to take us four years to develop a new car!’

Vauxhall Corsa at Frankfurt motor show

Higgins said that Vauxhall and Opel took the PSA architecture and worked out what they wanted to change for vital differentiation. ‘We wanted clever lights and have LED headlamps on every model; we have different seats, with a stiffer foam than our PSA colleagues; and we have a separate HVAC [heating, ventilation and air-conditioning] faceplate, as we don’t believe our customers want to fiddle around on a digital surface to change the temperature.’

More detail on the electric Corsa-e here

New Vauxhall Corsa: available in petrol, diesel or electric

Corsa Mk5 is based on PSA’s small-car hardware called CMP. That means the new 2020 Vauxhall Corsa shares its oily (and sparky) bits with the upcoming generations of Peugeot 208 and DS 3 Crossback and it’s available as a five-door only.

Vauxhall has confirmed that the new Corsa supermini has shed up to 108kg from the outgoing model, tipping the scales at just 980kg in the lightest derivative – to the benefit of economy, emissions, performance and handling. The diet was achieved through the body-in-white (an impressive 40kg less than before), plus a series of cuts across the board.

The Corsa engine line-up looks like this:

  • 1.2 petrol 74bhp, five-speed manual gearbox
  • 1.2 petrol 99bhp, 151lb ft, six-speed manual or eight-speed auto
  • 1.5 diesel 99bhp, 184lb ft

Although diesels on small cars have seemingly fallen out of favour, Vauxhall managing director Stephen Norman admitted it was a CO2-reducing ruse. ‘We will struggle to meet our CO2 targets without diesel,’ he told us in Frankfurt.

We’ve driven a prototype of the new Vauxhall Corsa

The new 2020 Vauxhall Corsa

The new car is the first mainstream supermini to introduce matrix LED headlights under the IntelliLux branding – only the DS 3 Crossback and Mini offer that elsewhere. They are capable of remaining on full beam, actively shuttering off the light in segments to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. It’s a technology more often seen on executive cars and even basic Corsas will come with more straightforward, non-active LED units.

Three power variants of PSA’s 1.2-litre 3cyl engine will be available – 74, 99 and 128bhp – with the latter not making it to the UK at launch. A solitary 1.5-litre, 99bhp diesel is your only derv option. 

‘As a British Brand since 1903, in fact, Britain’s oldest car Brand, Vauxhall has always been known for bringing cutting-edge technology to the mainstream, at an affordable price,’ said Stephen Norman, Vauxhall’s group managing director. ‘And with the all-new Corsa, we’re doing it not once, but twice, by electrifying the UK’s best-known supermini, and adding lighting technology normally only found in premium cars.’

The Vauxhall Corsa-e electric one

Vauxhall Corsa-e electric hatchback

Vauxhall has already released images of its new Corsa-e supermini (above), set to go on sale early next year for £26,790, and it looks near-identical to its combustion engine brethren. 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 room inside. Electric car-specific cues include bespoke badges and a unique wheel design.

‘We asked our customers whether they wanted their electric cars to look different and they resoundingly said “no”,’ design chief Mark Adams told CAR magazine. ‘They wanted a practical, functional body, no reduction in boot space and all the advantages of an electric powertrain. That is what we have given them.’

Vauxhall Corsa-e interior

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 Group-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. 

A 50kWh battery and a 100kW (134bhp and 192lb ft) motor means 205 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 3.1 seconds, while the 0-62mph sprint is dealt with in 8.1sec.

Due to the CMP platform, the electric powertrain does not intrude on passenger or luggage space, so there’s 309 litres of boot space (up from 285) – and that’s the same for the combustion engine cars. Engineers claim the new Corsa has the best aero yet, too, quoting a drag coefficient of just 0.29, helped by active aero shuttering which closes grilles when not needed for cooling.

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Vauxhall Corsa-e rear tracking

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.

There will be no Corsa van derivative this time. ‘It is not within scope,’ admitted product manager Higgins. ‘Some markets are looking at a version with removable rear seats and a bulkhead, which could be reversed to a car, but there is no proper panel version on our road map this time.’ 

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 and will use the same CMP hardware as the Corsa. 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