Opel Corsa 2012: Road Test

26 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Opel Corsa 2012: Road Test
Opel Corsa

Opel Corsa

2012: Road Test

It may be the baby of the Opel range, but the Corsa is also very mature

Opel Corsa Enjoy

Road Test

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $18,990

Options fitted (not included in above price): Technology Pack $1250

Crash rating: Five-star (Euro NCAP)

Fuel: 95 RON PULP

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 5.8

CO2 emissions (g/km): 136

Also consider: Ford Fiesta (from $15,490 – $24,990); Kia Rio (from $15,290 – $21,990); Volkswagen Polo (from $16,990 – $28,990)

Opel’s Corsa D, as it is known within GM, has been facelifted recently – before it went on sale in Australia – but can trace its lineage back to 2006. It’s therefore older than most of its rivals in the VFACTS light car segment.

That could have left the Corsa well behind the eight ball against those same rivals, but in reality the small Opel comes generally well equipped to compete in the light car segment. The price for the Corsa Enjoy flagship tested here is higher than the Ford Fiesta LX, for instance, but adds larger (16-inch alloy) wheels, seven-speaker stereo, rear disc brakes and front fog lights – for $1200 more than the list price of the Ford.

For its part the 1.6-litre Fiesta does develop more power and torque than the Corsa does from its 1.4-litre four-cylinder, which is rated at 74kW/130Nm. And for the same price as the Corsa, buyers can choose a Kia Rio Si with 1.6-litre engine and six-speed manual transmission or the turbocharged 1.2-litre Volkswagen Polo 77 TSI Comfortline – also with a six-speed manual gearbox. So it’s a competitive market segment indeed, and the Corsa is positioned right in the thick of things.

Opel handed over the vehicle on test complete with the Technology Pack option, priced at $1250. That wraps up an amalgam of electro gadgets in a car aimed at tech-savvy younger buyers. Fair enough, but while the Corsa consequently delivered high-tech options such as auto-on headlights, rain-sensing wipers, reverse parking sensors and static/dynamic cornering lights, this particular car couldn’t stream music from the smartphone connected wirelessly.

It turns out that the vehicle on test is a 2012 model, but buyers will have to wait for 2013 models before they’ll have standard audio streaming via Bluetooth. Furthermore, buyers will also forego DAB+ (digital) radio until the 2013 models arrive. So buyer beware.

Finished in a bright red and with the chrome headlight bezels that come with the Technology Pack, the Corsa was a handsome looking car – and one that blokes needn’t feel ashamed being seen in. But the positive first impressions dissipated inside the Corsa. The dash top was a large expanse of unadorned vinyl, the glovebox lid was not a properly-aligned fit and the centre fascia could have been lifted straight out of the AH Astra from 2004.

Graphics for the trip computer/infotainment screen in the centre fascia were presented in a large, yellowy-orange font that looked dated.

And the list went on: Seat trim was durable but bland, the coarse weave for the door trim fabric and headlining looked like hessian and the painted metal door frames were visible from the front seats – with the doors shut. Speaking of the doors, they needed a hefty sort of slam to close securely. This was particularly apparent in the case of the rear doors.

All of these points are possibly signs Opel has not had a big budget to play with, developing the Corsa in recent years.

Opel Corsa

Things didn’t improve much in the drivetrain department either. With just five gears in the manual transmission and an engine that felt undernourished the Corsa had to be worked a bit harder to keep up with traffic. Volkswagen’s Polo 77TSI is more refined and the VW’s transmission shift quality is lighter and neither as slow nor rubbery, as we recall.

Kia’s Rio and the Ford Fiesta also provide superior shift quality, with an extra cog for Polo and Rio – and stronger straight-line performance from all three.

The Opel suffered from low final drive gearing and that broad spread of ratios to make up for the lack of a sixth gear. At 60km/h the engine was spinning at 2000rpm – even when the transmission was in fifth. By the time the Corsa had reached highway speeds the engine was revving above 3000rpm and it was blatantly loud.

There was also a touch of wind noise, but other ambient noise was mostly drowned out by the engine.

Power delivery was linear and the engine would pull high gears from 1500rpm or lower without labouring, but it was certainly happier and a livelier performer at speeds above 3000rpm. The 1.4-litre engine was willing to rev, but started to sound strained from around 5000rpm. Fuel consumption over the seven days (with only about two or three kilometres of freeway driving) was 8.9L/100km, which compared unfavourably with the figure of 8.1L/100km posted by the 1.4-litre Kia Rio S in similar circumstances last year.

Ride quality in the Corsa was well controlled and supple over typical bumps encountered on Australian country roads. Opel engineers have found a decent balance between the car’s ride comfort and its cornering ability. Road-holding was up to par and the car’s handling was quite composed.

Turn-in seemed slow and the Corsa didn’t engage the driver the way Ford’s Fiesta does, but there was reasonable feedback through the (electrically assisted) steering wheel.

Corsa was not the sort of car to unsettle drivers who aren’t enthusiasts. It’s intended for practical purposes – shopping trips and daily commutes, rather than knocking off tenths of seconds getting from points A to B.

Granted the Corsa is a light-segment car, but rear-seat legroom was marginal for growing kids. Headroom was very good for adults of average height, but knee room just didn’t cut it. That, of course was based on the driver’s seat adjusted to suit a male driver – the reviewer in this case.

A shorter driver would certainly free up more knee and legroom behind.

For a relatively small car, the Corsa’s 280-litre boot space was not bad; it was quite deep, with a false floor that could be removed for larger items. Even with the depth of volume available with the floor removed, there was still room for a full-size spare, which we commend. Opel does describe this as a temporary spare, however.

That is because the wheel – even though a conventional steel wheel and not a spacesaver – measured 15 inches in diameter, whereas the road wheels were alloys measuring 16 inches.

The Corsa is a car that we have looked forward to driving ever since Opel announced it would be entering the Australian market. It’s the successor to Holden’s well-regarded XC series Barina, which won a Wheels CoTY award back in 2001. But the modern-day Corsa hasn’t progressed as far as we expected so many years later. There are rivals to the Corsa in its market segment that are inferior, but they compensate by being cheaper too.

Against stronger, longer-established names in the segment the Corsa is facing a tough battle.

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Published. Friday, 23 November 2012

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