Well built, refined and comfortable, the Corsa is a great supermini.

Driving
The latest Corsa, launched in 2006, certainly offers more driver involvement. While its predecessor did nothing to excite, this car provides excellent stability, decent body control and positive steering. So it’s easy and reassuring to drive, even if it doesn’t thrill like a hot hatch. Do note, though, standard variants strike a better balance than the SXi/SRi models – without the 20mm lower suspension and firmer dampers of the sporty models, the ride is significantly more comfortable, while handling and body control barely suffer at all. Roll is well contained too, and the suspension copes well on rough surfaces. What’s more, the Vauxhall has a responsive brake pedal. We tested the 1.3-litre diesel version which, while not exactly fast, offers a decent amount of punch in its mid-range. Noise is well insulated at idle, though it does become rather intrusive at higher revs. Yet, thanks to the torque and (slightly notchy) six-speed gearbox, there’s no need to use all the revs. The 1.6-litre turbo of the SRi, meanwhile, is punchy and vibrant, with thrills a-plenty.

Marketplace
From the front, both three-door and five-door Corsas are very similar, sharing youthful-looking bumper, wings and bonnet. Further back, the three-door is racy and stylish – Vauxhall is targeting families with the five-door, so it has a less-arched roof. The reverse kickback in the quarter light window and the shape of the rear door are very reminiscent of the five-door Astra, too. With an identical wheelbase, both cars offer virtually the same amount of space, although the five-door’s rear openings obviously help rear access, while the bigger windows make it feel more airy. There’s a large range on offer, and no shortage of rivals either – including the FordFiesta,Renault Clio, Peugeot 207, Fiat Punto (with which this car shares its platform), Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz. What marks the Corsa out is its sporty range of SXi and SRi models: the maker seems keener than most rivals to infuse mainstream models with some of the hot VXR’s kudos.

Owning
The Corsa’s interior quality is the best we have seen in a supermini. Cabin fit and finish are considerably better than rivals, too. The superb materials and fabrics would be at home in cars from the class above, and are more expensive than those you normally find in this sector. Moreover, in a bid to address criticisms that the last Corsa was dull, designers have added translucent switches, piano-black surrounds, chrome trim and a ‘speckle’-effect upper dash. The classy, easy to read dials are upmarket too. With a good range of wheel and seat movement, the driving position is practically faultless, while in the decent-sized boot, a handy split floor can be removed to boost load height. It’s not perfect though – the glovebox is very small. But running costs are competitive and servicing costs are very low (and intervals are super-long). However, while the diesel’s overall economy was, at 47.6mpg, very good, that’s some way off the official average of 61.4mpg. And the Corsa’s list prices certainly seem expensive when compared to some of the competition.

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