Electric Vauxhall Corsa raises the curtain on new Anglo-French supermini. By Jake Groves
Vauxhall has lifted the lid on its new Corsa. But instead of revealing the whole line-up of 2020’s replacement for the company’s current best-seller, it’s the electric version that gets first exposure.
Want a combustion-engined one? We’ll see it soon, and it will go on sale this winter, before the electric Corsa arrives at Vauxhall dealers next spring. It’ll look just like this Corsa-e, except with a tailpipe and without the electric badging.
The Corsa-e relies heavily on technology from Peugeot-Citroën owners PSA, which bought Vauxhall/Opel from GM in 2017. Under the slick, Mark Adams-designed skin is a 50kWh battery and a 134bhp electric motor, good for 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. Vauxhall claims a 211-mile range, which can be improved in the Eco drive mode. Plug it in to a fast CCS charger and you can get the battery 80 per cent full in half an hour.
Inside, almost everything you see and touch is from Russelsheim, not Paris, apart from the trigger shifter for the drive selector and the infotainment system, the latter with Vauxhall-specific overlays. It’s essentially the same 10.1-inch system already seen on the DS 3 Crossback, and soon to be available on this autumn’s Peugeot 208. There’s safety kit aplenty, wireless phone charging and a fully digital instrument display. The group’s CMP platform, specifically developed to handle electric and internal-combustion powertrains, makes excellent use of space. The latest Corsa is 48mm shorter than the outgoing generation, with a 28mm longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs, adding up to extra cabin room. The driving position is lower. Boot space increases slightly at 309 litres, whether that’s an electric, petrol or diesel version.
This won’t be 2020’s only electric Vauxhall: a battery-only Mokka X based on the GT X Experimental concept will bring similar technology to the next-gen compact crossover.
Lower and shorter than the current Corsa, with styling that disguises e-208 roots. Cabin is unique to the Vauxhall, not shared with PSA buddies.
On the road Un petit drive dans le Vauxhall Corsa prototype
We joined the Corsa’s pre-production test team for a quick spin, which gave encouraging early signs the new supermini will be good to drive, although the camouflaged cars were only 80 per cent finished. In keeping with Peugeot-Citroën tradition, the steering and controls are light. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is well-insulated and punchy, taking advantage of the new Corsa’s weight reduction of up to 108kg. The eight-speed auto ’box in particular works well with the lively PureTech engine and great throttle response, keeping the revs on the boil, especially with Sport mode engaged. So far, so French. We’d like more weight to the steering and (in the manuals) the clutch action. It’s not Fiesta-level fun, but refinement and engine tech are much improved.