You can expect Vauxhall to get Corsa right, after five generations

When the first 1993 Vauxhall Corsa was landed in the UK, reports Iain Robertson, it was based on the Opel Corsa and marked a pan-European model change from a sub-compact favourite that was known as Nova, the nemesis to the Ford Fiesta.

A decade prior to Corsa, the Nova model had succeeded in changing the face of small cars in the UK. It was known as Corsa in left-hand drive markets. With only 36 examples still registered for road use in the UK, you have to presume that many Novas were snaffled-up during the ‘scrappage programme’, which would have gifted them a monetary value that none would have achieved otherwise. To be frank, it was a fairly dire motorcar.

Corsa (B) arrived 26 years ago. The egg was its design inspiration. Significantly re-engineered over the Nova (it needed to be), it was styled to maximise appeal and became a near overnight success, causing Ford to rush back to the Fiesta drawing-board to reconsider its options. A hot GSi model teased the performance sector, while its diesel variant gained a turbocharger. It was a tough wee thing and owners benefited from antilock brakes, side impact protection and airbags. Its handling envelope still needed work but Vauxhall’s engineers were waking up to that responsibility.

Corsa (C) was not so much a radical departure from the previous generation but it was roomier, while its track and wheelbase grew as a means to improve its on-road performance. As Vauxhall’s first new car of the New Millennium, it had a lot to prove but it remained a popular choice of both fleet and private market sectors, helped by keen pricing and a range of efficient Ecotec engines.

Corsa (D) arrived in 2006. Unusually for a large volume small car, Vauxhall decided to differentiate between both three and five-door variants, with a series of styling alterations. The five-door became a practical family car, while the three-door lent its talents to a run of sportier models. Careful chassis management gifted the Corsa a dynamic package that was now well up to the class average and, while Vauxhall still struggled to defeat the might of Ford Motor Company, by not indulging in market share enhancing pre-registrations, the Corsa became regarded as a ‘retail champion’ in the UK. Every ‘hotshoe’ just had to have a Corsa VXR, or a GSi at least.

Corsa (E), which is the outgoing model, went on sale in 2014. For the first time, its body length exceeded the notional 4.0m limit for the class at 4.02m. It also introduced a zippy 1.0-litre turbo-triple to a much-improved engine line-up. Easily the best Corsa that had been produced in the model line’s history, sales went through the roof and, for the first time ever, Vauxhall was seen as a proper head-to-head rival to Ford and its Fiesta.

Now, to the future. The all-new Corsa (F) will soon introduce the first all-electric car to Vauxhall’s PSA-owned range. We have already outlined many of the details of this enticing new line-up, which could become one of PSA Group’s biggest sellers overall. While the Corsa e will not be available until the New Year, orders are being taken and the rest of the range will be reaching customers very soon.

MSG Summary

It is important to reflect on the history of the Vauxhall Corsa, which has made an indelible mark on the UK Motor Industry, with 2.1m registrations since 1993 and 13.5m across the European new car scene.

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