The chances are, a lot of young drivers will want a hatchback that looks sporty and dynamic. The only problem is that a proper hot hatch is bound to break the bank due to running costs/insurance, plus the chances are parents will want their child to drive something that doesn’t offer too much power. So that counts the Vauxhall Corsa VXR out then.
Not to worry though, because one could have the Corsa SRi VX-Line instead, a car that acts a halfway house between the standard SRi and of course, the full-fat VXR. This means that you get the VXR styling as well as 17″ alloys – bigger than those fitted to the standard SRi. Inside the cabin, you get sports seats and a whole army of red stitching to remind you that this is a sporty as an athlete’s running trainer.
So it’s fast then?
Erm, no. But that is not the aim of this car – the SRi VX-Line is here to look sporty but to offer the kind of running costs you’d get from a standard supermini. Speaking of which, the engine fitted to the model tested is 1.3 litre turbocharged diesel, which offers a mighty 94bhp with 190Nm of torque. So it’s most definitely modest in regards to power, but this means that you’ll get good economy – 78.5mpg on a combined run to be exact – and it will keep the insurance costs down too.
If diesel doesn’t float your boat, then you can choose from either a turbocharged 1.0 litre petrol (113bhp), a naturally aspirated 1.4 litre petrol that comes in either 74 or 89bhp power outputs, and then finally you have a turbocharged 1.4 litre petrol that offers 99bhp. If it were me, I’d go for the 1.0 litre unit as that offers the most power – yes, I’m a man of simple tastes…
So it’s not fast, but how does it drive?
Pretty well by all accounts. I’ll be upfront, I wouldn’t have the diesel as I feel a car like this should really ought to come with a petrol, but that’s horses for courses and all that jazz. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, which is nice enough to use but it falls behind the quality of change you can expect from the new Ford Fiesta and the new SEAT Ibiza. The throws are snappy enough though, and they were enough to keep my happy on my short drive.
The power delivery is less satisfactory though as it feels a bit lazy and it doesn’t really get going until you reach 3,000 revs and then you get a relatively small window of power before the engine noise becomes rather droney before you change in to the next cog. On the plus side, the engine feels smooth and quiet when you’re cruising. Speaking of which, the car is pretty comfortable, considering it’s riding on the obligatory sports suspension and 17″ alloys.
You may not believe me when I say this, but on smooth tarmac the car felt like it was gliding and you didn’t get the sense it was a firmer setup. Admittedly that was on fresh, sparkly tarmac – on more worn roads the ride will definitely become lumpier. The tyre noise isn’t too bad either, which was surprising as I was expecting it to be quite high, but it was well controlled. The car was running on eco tyres, so that probably helped matters as well.
Eco tyres? So it has no grip?
Ah that is where you are wrong. I’ll be honest, I was surprised to see this sporty looking hatch on Bridgestone eco tyres, but the grip offered by them was pretty decent – impressive in fact. The car’s handling certainly makes up for the lack of oomph, although it’s still not the most dynamic supermini money can buy, but it’s certainly not bad. Once you get the diesel engine up to speed you’ll find steering that has a nice weight to it, and is direct, although I found it to be vague sometimes.
Threading it through a fast right hander, I turned in and then found myself at a bit of a loss halfway in as I couldn’t gather what the front wheels were doing. Do I need more lock? Less lock? Other than that fly in the ointment, the SRi VX-Line is definitely capable in the bends and is able to offer up a good amount of fun. There’s limited body roll and the sports seats hold you in place well, although they could do with more lumbar support.
What kit does it offer?
The SRi VX-Line serves are one of the mid-range Corsa models, so you get a good level of kit, although you will not get sat nav, and quite disappointingly you’ll need to pay £140 extra for 60/40 rear seats. Priced from £14,065 (£16,675 for the 1.3 diesel), standard features include 7″ touchscreen with DAB radio and smartphone connectivity, sports seats, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and air conditioning.
The model tested did have a few options though, so it was getting on for £20,000. The options included the ‘Brilliant’ red paint (285), advanced park assist (£505), driving assistance pack (£660), rear view camera (£210), OnStar (£405), winter pack (£230), bi-xenon headlights (£405) and climate control (£405).
What about space?
The Corsa doesn’t offer the most space in class, but I imagine four adults should be able to comfortable inside without too many problems. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, so it’s easy to get a good driving position but as I mentioned earlier, the sports seats could with some more support. Space in the front is pretty decent, but again it’s not class-leading.
The same can be said for the back – my 6 foot 2 frame was able to fit fine and the legroom as well as the headroom were definitely agreeable. Three adults in the back would definitely be a squeeze though. The boot is of a good size, offering 285 litres, but once again it’s behind the Ford Fiesta and the SEAT Ibiza, which are able to offer respective capacities of 292 and 355 litres. You can fold down the rear bench if you need more room though, but you’ll need to pay £140 extra for 60/40 seats.
The SRi VX-Line may not have the power to go with the sporty looks but this should an ideal car for young drivers looking for supermini with a bit of exterior muscle that won’t cost the earth to run. I personally wouldn’t have the diesel engine though, but it’s the engine to go for if you want that extra bit of economy.
I’ll be honest though, the Corsa doesn’t feel as sweet to drive as the Fiesta and the Ibiza, so it does make the Corsa a little difficult to recommend. Granted, they are both more expensive to buy, but I feel it’s money worth paying. If your budget is a little more stretched though, then the Corsa should be a good fit for you.