There was a time not so long ago when Opel found itself struggling through lack of product and there were rumours the brand would even pull out of South Africa. Today, things are looking up for the brand and that fighting spirit is clear for all to see. Look at Adam, a mere three months on the market in South Africa and it’s already selling up a storm (280 units in February 2015). The new, much improved, fifth-generation Corsa has now joined the fray and as it shares many similarities to its two-door counterpart it’s likely to sell well going forward.
Does the new Corsa pack enough punch to pip the popular Volkswagen Polo? We spent a week with the Opel Corsa 1.0 Enjoy to test its strength.
Engine MagicThe new Corsa’s trump card is its engine, which is a 1.0-litre, three cylinder unit developed by at least 200 clever engineers. This wizardry has resulted in an exceptionally excellent engine. Offering 85 kW and 170 Nm, this small capacity engine delivers energetic performance in a refined manner and it’s quiet too. The same engine does service in the Adam and is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox in the Corsa. Gear shifting is smooth and effortless in the new Corsa. There’s also a 1.4-litre variant on offer mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, but the manual is probably your best bet here.
Fuel consumption for the new Corsa is claimed to be 5.0L/100km. During my test, 6.8L/100km was easily achieved and this figure could’ve been improved upon with more diligent and consistent driving. Efficiency is further assisted with Automatic Stop/Start fitted as standard across all three trim levels (Essentia, Enjoy and Cosmo).
The DriveWith 170 Nm torque available from low down, performance in the new Corsa is swift. On the open road overtaking is simple with good mid-range acceleration. With its 16-inch alloy wheels and riding on a new and improved chassis sitting 5mm lower than before, the ride and handling is excellent, being smooth and stable even while cornering enthusiastically. Feedback through the new power assisted steering is precise and City Mode helps you work the wheel easily at lower speeds and when parking.
This test unit came fitted with an optional Advanced Parking Assistant 2 system to help with those difficult parallel parking scenarios. Side Blind Spot Alert was also fitted which is very useful in close-quarter driving, alerting you to cars in your blind spot via a flashing light in your side mirror - very nifty indeed. Also, there’s Opel’s latest ESP Plus that brings a host of safety assistance systems to the party. The Corsa really offers a good, solid drive.
The Corsa flexes its muscle in the safety department and comes fitted with an array of features including ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, ESP and Hill Start Assist. A driver and passenger airbag as well as front-side airbags and curtain airbags are part of the package. The new Corsa also holds a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating.
Comfortable InteriorInside, I was met with a predominantly black interior with quality soft touch surfaces. Although the interior is difficult to fault in terms of fit and finish, it isn’t particularly exciting either. Nonetheless, the interior is comfortable and comes well kitted with features. This model featured Opel’s optional IntelliLink infotainment system which does a good job syncing with your smartphone and the system is easy to use too. USB and Auxiliary ports are standard fare as is front and rear electric windows.
The steering wheel is comfortable to operate and is rake and reach adjustable with mounted controls.
Space in the Corsa is ample and rear passengers have more than enough head and legroom. The boot offers 285-litres of space that expands to a healthy 1 120-litres with the 60:40 rear seats folded down, which is on par with its rivals. There’s also a storage drawer under the passenger seat as well as three cup holders and bottle holders in the door.
Opel Corsa – Price in South AfricaOur Corsa Enjoy test unit is priced at R224 200 with the optional IntelliLink and Advanced Park Assist 2 fitted. Pricing for the base model Corsa is as follows:
Corsa 1.0T Essentia - R185 500 Corsa 1.0T Enjoy - R216 200 Corsa 1.4 Enjoy Auto – R216 500 Corsa 1.0T Cosmo - R236 300
Prices include Opel’s 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and a 3-year/ 60 000 km service plan.
Opel Corsa - VerdictThe new Opel Corsa is a strong contender in this segment, offering good looks and a whack of safety features thrown into the mix. Dynamically, the Corsa excels and will satisfy the needs of just about any city-dwelling motorist. For your money, the Opel Corsa is a reasonable offering when compared to the Volkswagen Polo, which becomes even more expensive once you start ticking off options. The Opel Corsa also offers more power and torque compared to its main rivals and is well worth consideration if you are looking for a well-built hatchback at a reasonable price.
Second OpinionThe previous Opel Corsa felt like an also ran in the B-Segment hatchback race. This model has more going for it, the new styling is an improvement and it has a brilliant 1,0-litre engine to boot. Safety is a key point that Opel has considered and the rest of the car pretty much matches the competition without being outstanding. It's definitely worth a test drive if you're looking for a modern hatchback.
We Like: Styling, Build Quality, Excellent Engine, Solid Ride
We Don’t Like: Not much to dislike here
Also Consider: Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio