Opel Corsa grows up gracefully

2021-05-06 11:54:00 PM

A far cry from the original cheapie, the refined new Corsa is still a fun drive

Phuti MpyaneThe range-topping Corsa Elegance gets a turbocharged 1.2 engine with outputs of 96kW/230Nm. Picture: PHUTI MPYANEFor a while now it has been difficult for Opel fanatics to fathom what happened to their brand.First eschewed by General Motors, it was picked up by the French PSA group which now finds itself a part of the new Stellantis group that includes Fiat, Citroën, Dodge, Maserati and more. Will it be obvious where the new Opel Corsa fits?

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It’s certainly larger than ever now in its sixth generation and we are told it’s also the lightest in its segment at 980kg. That segment is where the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 and many others ply their trade, including its Citroën C3 group cousin, on which the Corsa’s heavily based.

True, there’s a discernible lightness in its posture and Peugeot-Citroën DNA throughout. The switch gear and digital instrument binnacles inside the 2,450mm wheelbase are a big give away. Space is plentiful but the interior styling is drab compared to its Gallic counterparts. headtopics.com

Features found in the high-spec 1.2 Elegance model on test are virtually identical to the C3 1.2 Shine. Key differentiators are the availability of extra luxuries such as seat warmers, park distance control and high-beam assist in the Opel, but on paper the two cars are similar. It’s under the skin where the nuances become apparent.

The Corsa uses PSA’s 1.2lthree-cylinder turbo motor linked to a six-speed automatic but with output bumped up to 96kW and 230Nm versus 81kW and 205Nm of the C3.How does the Corsa shape up with French Botox? It may be a typical segment cruise and an easy steer in the suburbs but it’s surprisingly brisk. This is where the lightweight construction investment pays dividends as it corners with skill, demonstrating good grip in corners for a car devoid of performance-enhancing button modes, all this while serving up respectable bursts of speed down any road.

The resultant performance is 8.7 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 208km/h while it consumed on average 7.6l/100km.It’s a spacious enough cabin with modern infotainment tools though monotonous in design by its French cousin’s standards. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new Corsa’s design has polarised opinion but I find it fabulously styled on the outside. The front section is low and wide unlike the bulging and raised bonnets of its new cousins. The attractive arrangement of its headlights is also not reminiscent of either Peugeot or Citroën while a sizeable rear spoiler turns on the aggression. The design part, and the wonderful chassis tweaking, is clearly the work of Opel engineers.   headtopics.com

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The new Corsa is far removed from the first model to hit SA with its cute bulbous shape and cheap-as-air pricing and running costs.It’s a grown-up that falls within the sea of conventionality currently found between the R300K-400K price range, which are mostly high-end models of the stock liked by rental companies. But we can be thankful that it’s at least well specified and rewarding to drive fast with excellent roadholding, an Opel signature.

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