Vauxhall Corsa 1.0T30 | 10 | 2014Scotcars rating

    We get first drive of Scotland's favourite car, the all-new Vauxhall Corsa, as it bids to be No1

    THE LATEST GENERATION of Scotland's favourite car, the Vauxhall Corsa, isn't even in showrooms yet, but we were the first Scots to get our hands on the new car and put it through its paces on a mixture of roads in, and around Bath.

    The fourth-generation of the Corsa — the wee car accounts for 32% of all Vauxhall sales — is sure to make a splash (ok, that's the last Bath pun) when Scots customers get their eyes on it and settle behind the wheel.

    Why? Because if you thought the previous Corsa was good, you ain't seen nothing yet. This new version — still less than 4m long — is an absolute cracker. And though Vauxhall predicts the biggest seller in the range will be the 1.4-litre 90bhp petrol (the current comparable model in the range accounts for more than 50% of sales), without question the pick of the bunch is the all-new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol pumping out either 83bhp or 114bhp.

    But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's review the new Corsa range, which comes eight years after the previous model. Starting at £8995 for the entry-level 1.2-litre 69bhp three-door Sting — undercutting the Fiesta entry-level by around £1000— buyers are faced with a comprehensive choice from nine trim levels: that's one less than the previous range.

    Engines? In addition to the two versions of the 1.0T, plus the 1.2, there's also a 1.4-litre, with or without a turbocharger, delivering 99bhp and 89bhp respectively; plus the choice of two 1.3CDTi diesels in 74bhp and 94bhp forms. The oilburners are capable of 88.3mpg and 85g/km CO2.

    And while all Corsas have either five- or six-speed manual gearboxes, a conventional automatic or updated version of Vauxhal's Easytronic will be available as an option on the 89bhp 1.4.

    Related: New Vauxhall Viva on sale summer 2015

    Ok, so now you know what's available, what exactly is the new 1.0T like? I drove it in 114bhp SRi VX-Line spec with stop/start, costing £14,460, and it's a hoot. I would I defy anyone who didn't know it only has three cylinders to identify it as thus.

    Having experienced the traditional 'three-pot thrum' which accompanies most 3cyl engines, I have to admit to being a bit skeptical of all the positive words which were being directed towards the all-new engine by the bigwigs from Vauxhall.

    Time to hold my hands up: it's a gem. No, really, it is. And that's from someone who has never really been a Vauxhall fan. There: I've said it.

    Even at idle, the new engine is near-silent. And because the engine picks up most of its torque round about the 1500rpm area, allied to the fact the engine's so quiet, you can find yourself in any of, say, three gears and you wouldn’t notice much difference in either noise or throttle response.

    Not only is it full of punchy verve, but its ride is supple and comfortable. Somewhere in the deepest depths of my mind, the thought I kept going back to was: "Is this really a Vauxhall Corsa?"

    It is. And sensibly, Vauxhall — which retains an engineering centre at Millbrook — has retuned the electric-assisted power-steering to suit our twistier roads, compared to that which will be experienced on mainland Europe by drivers of its Opel counterpart.

    The six-speed 'box was slick and easy to operate, and the 1.0T can scurry along happily, hitting 62mph from standstill in 10.3secs, and carrying on to a max of 121mph. It's also good for 57.6mpg and emits 115g/km CO2.

    While it's perfectly at easy keeping pace with motorway traffic, it's equally comfortable on a leisurely — or "I'm late for an appointment" — dart cross-country. And of course, it goes without saying it thrives in the cut 'n' thrust of city centre traffic.

    Related: Roadtest — Vauxhall Adam

    Thankfully, Vauxhall has also significantly improved the Corsa's cabin. There's more space for front and rear occupants — oh, I should have mentioned, the Corsa's also available as a five-door — and everything touchy-feely, including the sporty wee steering wheel, has improved a few notches, which is a big positive.

    Ok, it's maybe not as classy as that of the VW Polo, but it's at least on par with the Fiesta, it's other main rival.

    Which brings us to its quest to re-establish its place as No 1 in Scotland. And who better to ask than Ian Mitchell, Vauxhall's brand manager of small cars, who just happens to come from Glasgow.

    "The Corsa has been No1 in Scotland for the last six years essentially because of the strength of our retail network, with people like Arnold Clark and Peter Vardy," Mitchell explained, "plus, of course, its price, and we're retaining £8995 as the entry-level car.

    "Vauxhall continues to be a value brand, and the Corsa has an intrinsic value. But what our customers really like is the interior package and styling, plus it has a small footprint on the road, which is a big plus-point.

    "Corsa has a much higher penetration in its sector in Scotland than it has across the rest of the UK. We're quietly confident that once the new car starts driving out of the dealerships at the start of next year, it'll be No1 again North of the Border by the summer."

    Already dealers are taking orders for the car, even though build doesn't start till November, with first cars being delivered in January ... just in time to test its new standard-fit heated windscreen. Will it return to being No1 in Scotland? I think you can safely put money on it.

    Related: Peter Vardy reveals new Scots plans

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    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £14,460
    Engine / Power: 3cyl in line, 999cc, turbo, petrol / 114bhp
    How fast?: 10.3sec; / Max 121mph
    How big/heavy?: Ltbc mm Wtbc mm H tbc mm / 1177k
    How thirsty/CO2?: 57.6mpg combined / 115g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, VW Polo

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