Why have I never considered buying a Vauxhall..
(except the VX220, the two-seater Lotus Elise in disguise, which I lusted after as if it were an impossibly desirable woman)?
Why in 45 years of owning cars has the idea never entered my head (except for the VX220)?
These questions came to mind while driving the new Vauxhall Corsa Excite 1.4T (100PS). There’s nothing wrong with the price. The final charge of £14115 for the car I borrowed would be cheaper by a solid chunk of cash than a comparable VW Polo or Ford Fiesta (cars I have enthusiastically recommended and would certainly consider buying); and the level of standard equipment in the Corsa – such as ESP and electrically-heated front seats – is close to the Hyundai i10 which I would happily buy like a shot if I were in the market for a hatchback city car.
The Corsa’s looks may be decidedly average but, from a sensible point of view, that means it looks like pretty much everything else in this sector. On the street and in the dark, any one of them could be taken for another. So what’s to complain about?
Likewise, there’s little to take against inside the cabin. It’s a kind of “so what?” point to say that the seating adjustments are rather strange. My normal preference is to sit low with the steering wheel at its furthest reach position and its highest rake. In the Corsa, these settings put my bum within millimetres of the floor with the bottom of the steering wheel at about the level of my collar-bones. Raising the seat brought my scalp nearer to scraping the ceiling than might be good for a thinning pate.
A comparably trivial cavil applies to the colour touchscreen for information. I found it maddeningly easy to misdirect the system when a bump in the road misdirected a touch but I suppose, eventually, the owner of this car would develop an aim and an eye that compensated for road surface irregularities.
Four people can travel in this car in reasonable comfort and the load space is OK, except for the step in the floor.
No driving enthusiast will find his or her senses lit up by the performance or driving dynamics of this Corsa but, again, it’s a negligible point. In the age of omnipresent speed cameras, universal limits and mass congestion, a car that sets your emotions on fire like the VX220 is likely to be redundant for 95% of its life. I could use it regularly to the full extent of its powers (or, rather, mine) on the 22-mile circuit of public roads that lies outside my back door; but, then, I live in the Scottish hills. Most people using this Corsa to take the kids to school and commute to work would never fret over the limited grunt of its 1.4 litre turbocharged engine or the absence of vivacity in its handling.
When Vauxhall offered a “lifetime” or 100,000 mile warranty, I might have been tempted; but now that they have reverted to a standard three-year warranty, they are just the same as everybody anybody except Hyundai (five), Toyota (five) and Kia (seven). There’s a serious difference between this Corsa and its Ford and VW rivals in resale values and, even more seriously, it achieves dismal ratings in surveys of reliability and customer satisfaction.
But those are not the main reasons I wouldn’t consider a Corsa. No, they are far too reasonable and sensible.
My ineradicable objection to buying a Vauxhall would be that nobody in my family and nobody I know whose taste in cars I share has ever bought a Vauxhall. That – as all marketing men know – is the kind of irrational brand resistance that is almost impossible to shift. Turning Skoda around in the public mind is a pushover by comparison. I am not proud of it but there it is.
For that reason, weirdly, I woudn’t buy a Corsa even if it were a VX220.
But that shouldn’t prevent anybody else from making what would be a perfectly sensible choice.
Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback Review | Corsa Excite 1.4T (100PS)
On the road prices: £13,840.00 price as tested £14,115.00
Engine: 1364cc Turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
0-60mph: 11.0 seconds
Top speed: 115 mph
Fuel economy: combined 55.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 120 g/km
Annual VED: £0 first year £30.oo annually
Insurance Group: 12E