Opel is on a mission to claw back lost ground. The 2008 financial crisis saw Opel nearly sold off from the GM stable. It has since managed to drag itself from the brink of death and has begun to produce some solid offerings of late. This latest derivative is the Opel Corsa Sport, a slightly hotter version of the standard Corsa. Is it worth opting for this mild hot hatch over the standard model? We spent some time with it getting to know its ins and outs.
What makes it a Sport?It’s not just a modest engine change that adds the Sport badge designation on the rear. Opel has also fiddled with the suspension and has given the exterior its own unique look. Starting with the engine, it’s a new 1.4-turbo petrol unit in a mild state of tune that lifts power to 110 kW combined with 220 Nm of torque. Fuel economy is a major drawcard as Opel claims 5.9L/100km. During the Corsa Sport’s time with us we averaged 7.7L/100km – still a reasonable figure considering we did a fair amount of ‘Sport’ testing.
The suspension changes on the Corsa Sport include some spring rate adjustments and a geometry alteration. It’s all in the name of improving the handling and ride characteristics, it’s even said the changes improve the steering feel too.
Finally the Corsa Sport has an edgier physique. It actually takes some parts from the OPC Line body kit to beef it up. It’s a conclusive add on kit, with new front and rear bumper, side skirts, a special exhaust tip and carbon-look mirrors.
How does it go?The 1.4-turbo gives the Corsa Sport more go but not in a hugely sporty manner. It makes the Corsa a nippier machine around town and the extra power and torque gives it more overtaking prowess. Its sprint time to 100kph of 9.6 seconds is not riveting either. To be honest it feels faster than that number suggests and offers a decent level of enthusiastic grunt. The four-cylinder engine even sends out a growl as it climbs the early chapters of the rev range. It cruises easily at 120kph and unlike the previous Corsa sport it doesn’t suffer from turbo lag.
Plenty of kitThe new Corsa has done a remarkable job of prioritising safety systems that some of its competitors have neglected to include in their models. The Corsa Sport, being at the top of the range currently has electronic stability control, six airbags, ABS and brake assist as standard features. There’s an optional driver’s assistance package that’s worth getting as well. The pack adds features like city steering mode, parking assist (auto parks itself), bi-xenon headlights and a blind spot warning system for the side mirrors.
The interior features Opel’s new seven-inch touchscreen with one of the best connectivity systems on the market. It integrates easily with Smartphones and there is App compatibility for things like navigation, podcasts and international radio stations. We were a little surprised that the Corsa Sport is only available with cloth seats but they have a very unique style to them. Ours came in ‘Jackie Stewart’s tartan pants’ colour. They offer good support for cloth seats and it was easy to find a comfortable position to drive in. The Corsa Sport feels well-built and styled inside. It’s a vast improvement from what we used to see.
And the drive?We enjoyed the Corsa Sport, forgetting about the apparent lack of speed. The steering is accurate and well weighted. If you happen to lock into a decent set of bends, the Corsa Sport is easy to grab by the horns and throw around. It’s not intimidating and is happy to be slapped around corners nonchalantly. The gearshift action is quick, although the square lever Opel uses has never felt particularly comfortable. For a Sport model it doesn’t ride particularly harshly and still maintains good levels of comfort.
VerdictThe Corsa Sport sits in a strange middle-ground. It’s not a hot hatch like the Polo GTI or Fiesta ST but it’s sportier than the standard variants in most model ranges. It does play both games well though, it’s a comfortable car that’s perfect for everyday use. It serves up reasonable thrills when called on and returns good fuel economy. It’s hard to find a direct competitor to the Corsa Sport because the Fiesta ST only has three doors and the Polo GTI is much, much more expensive.
The ST is only R20k more expensive so if you can live without the practicality of rear doors then it’s a great buy. The Suzuki Swift Sport is an interesting candidate but plays more in the pure driving enthusiast corner. It's nearly R20k less but offers less in the way of interior comfort and features. Overall the Corsa Sport fits nicely in the gap between standard and hot hatch, a pleasant all-rounder.
Corsa Sport PricingIt's just the solo model on offer in the Corsa Sport Range and it's available at R255 200.
Team Opinion"The Corsa Sport comes well specced and the interior styling adds a fresh element to the car. Corsa Sport is comfortable to drive and its performance isn't mind-blowing but at least you get a bit more oomph with decent fuel economy." - Gero Lilleike
We Like: Sporty drive, safety features and medium hottness
We don’t Like: A bit slow, R15k less and this would be a great buy
Also consider: Polo, Fiesta, Swift Sport