The Vauxhall Corsa has been around for years, and if you’re in the market for a used one, go for the third generation model.
It became available in the UK in mid 2006 in three or five-door hatchback form.
There are many Corsas to choose from, including lots of special edition models. The 1.2 litre petrol variant is great for urban or A-road driving, but if motorway commuting is your thing, then the 1.4 petrol has better pulling power.
You can choose from 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 or 1.6-litre petrol engines, along with 1.3 or 1.7-litre diesels. In 2007, the sporty VXR and SRi hot-hatches followed with 1.6 turbo power.
If you don’t like petrol or you think you’ll drive more than 15,000 miles a year, then the 1.3 diesel is a good choice because it’s economical and has a good amount of pull. If you want hardcore performance though, the SRi and VXR hot-hatches are enjoyable and energetic, but there are not many of them on the used car market – and their running costs are high.
Ride and handling
The third generation Vauxhall Corsa sold far better than either of the previous Corsas because, quite simply, it’s a better performer. Its suspension evens out all but the largest of bumps and it is comfortable.
Wind and road noise are well limited at speed too, and it is very able on the motorway.
The Vauxhall Corsa feels like a large car, yet it is just as good at weaving across city streets as it is at speed on the motorway. Three door Corsas offer a bit more room in the back than five door versions, due to a slightly bigger back seat, but a five door model is far more practical.
It offers decent space inside, with enough leg and headroom to carry four-up. The materials and cabin build quality feel sturdy, and the boot is a respectable size. The load area also comes with a useful under-floor storage compartment.
What to know before you buy
In general, the Corsa is a good secondhand buy but there has been a recall for this generation of Corsa, relating to steering components which could result in a steering malfunction.
Work to remedy this ought to have been carried out by now, but if you purchase your used Corsa from anywhere but a main dealer, get it checked or ask the vendor for proof this has been resolved.
Also, rasping brake noises can bother some models. It is more of an irritation than a serious fault, though, as it doesn’t affect the brakes' performance. Like any used car viewing, make sure you test the vehicle and keep your ears open for unusual sounds coming from the wheels when you scrub off speed.
Similarly, pin your ears back for suspension thumps from the back, which can affect some Corsas. Walk away from the car if you hear this, as suspension problems can be costly to fix.
What’s more, the central locking on Corsas can also suffer from occasional faults, so make sure you try the locks thoroughly before you buy.
The Ford Fiesta is the Vauxhall Corsa’s main competitor. It has been one of the UK’s most wanted small hatchbacks since it was introduced in the 1970s, and won the Car of the Year award in 2009.
The VW Polo should also be considered because it offers a fresher package, but it costs more.
The Vauxhall Corsa is good, although it’s not the finest used supermini. That said it can be bought for a song and, unless you buy either of the hot-hatch versions, it has low running costs.
The Corsa is a particularly good first car for new drivers too, because it is easy to drive, relatively cheaper to run, and performs most tasks well.