The fifth generation Opel Corsa is now a few months among us, and boasts improved looks and a totally revised chassis and electronically assisted steering. But that is not all. State of the art petrol engine technology has also landed under the bonnet of this bestseller. This latest Corsa baffled us with its smooth, velvety power delivery, its silence, flexibility and excellent driveability. Not only the engine, also the 6 speed manual gearbox is totally new. Reason enough for us to put this elegant Corsa to the test. Read here our findings...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
New chassis and improved steering...
The new Corsa has pleasant, modern looks, excellent proportions whilst maintaining the typically Opel design language. But more about that later. We will first take a closer look at the chassis, which has been completely redesigned. Not one element is common with the previous model.
The centre of gravity has been lowered by 5 millimetres, the suspension geometry is revised as well as the damper settings, which improves comfort considerably. Potholes are now swallowed much better, and the Corsa offers suspension comfort which ranks among the best in its segment. A new, reinforced sub-frame results in improved rigidity, which reflects in better and more precise handling and steering.
In order to improve directional stability, the Opel engineers changed the mounting points of the rack-and-pinion steering shaft and optimised further its geometry. Indeed, the Corsa enjoys excellent straight line stability, making it a pleasant companion on high speed "Autobahn" trips.
Aa completely new electrical architecture for the fifth generation Corsa enables a more sophisticated level of interaction between its various systems. Optimised software for the electrical and speed-dependent power steering adds additional possibilities. For instance, the new Corsa is standard equipped with a 'City Mode’ steering setting, which makes steering through narrow streets and sharp corners or moving in tight spaces a breeze. This 'City Mode' is activated with the simple press of a button, located on the centre console.
Another innovative feature is the so-called 'active cornering' component of the Corsa’s steering, which aids the driver in crosswinds and on convex roads. Amongst others, the software is fed with the data from Opel’s ninth-generation Electronic Stability Program (ESP Plus). This system takes care of no less than eleven different functions, including for example, new Hill Start Assist.
Our test car came in the top of the range Cosmo trim, which included Opel’s Advanced Parking Assistant 2 (APA2). This system recognises parallel and perpendicular parking spaces and takes over the steering, and one has only to control the pedals and gearlever. Certainly essential for a city car...
Superb, state-of-the-art three cylinder 1 litre engine
Engines are the heart of any car, and this latest Corsa inherits a formidable one.
This 1.0 litre ecoFLEX Direct Injection Turbo engine was first introduced in the recently-launched Opel ADAM. The engine is silent, refined and sophisticated, and combines responsiveness with frugal fuel consumption.
Developed from scratch. this engine is the first of a new family of small petrol three- and four-cylinder units which will be progressively introduced in the Opel range. A three-cylinder architecture was deemed essential to reach the desired fuel efficiency. As some customers steer away three-cylinder engines due to their rather high level of noise and vibration, the 200 engineers who developed Opel’s new generation unit in Rüsselsheim over the last three-and-a-half years put comfort at the top of their development priority list.
The result is quite stunning. It is indeed one of the quietest three-cylinders we have come across lately. The Opel engineers pulled all the stops, as 40 components and sub-groups have been acoustically-optimised from the beginning of development – such as the cylinder block as well as the structurally isolated fuel injection system and crankshaft.
In addition, a sump-mounted counter-rotating balance shaft further reduces noise and vibration – unique for a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.
The second development priority of the new-generation 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine was to deliver excellent responsiveness. Indeed, this is what this unit really does. The 85 kW engine surprised us, it delivers strong low-end torque, pumping out 170 Nm from just 1 800 rpm.
The engine’s pulling power shows clearly during acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h, a very common speed range for overtaking. The Corsa makes this transition in just 10.4 seconds...
In pure performance, the Corsa is quite lively indeed. It will accelerate from 0 to 100 in 10,3 seconds and has a top speed of 195 km/h. The smoothness and quietness of this engine have to be experienced to be believed. It remains virtually inaudible at ANY speed, up to even very high speeds, and is completely exempt of any vibrations whatsoever.
Start/stop technology is of course fitted as standard to boost fuel economy. The manufacturer quotes 5.0-litres per 100 km over the combined cycle, equating to only 119 g/km CO2 emissions. We had no trouble to achieve an average consumption well below 6 litres.
State-of-the-art technologies in Opel’s new generation three-cylinder engine include high-pressure direct fuel injection, an ultra-compact turbocharging system and continuously variable valve timing (both intake and exhaust sides). Lightweight, all-aluminium construction, with a cylinder head-integrated exhaust manifold, contributes to low weight: the 1.0 ecoFLEX Direct Injection Turbo tips the scales at just 106 kg.
The engine is mated to an all-new, compact six-speed manual gearbox.
The new six-speed manual gearbox, developed under the code M1X, shifts very easily, and has well suited gear ratios. It sports of course a low-friction design for internal components, and indeed, one can flick it effortlessly through its gears. Weighing less than 40 kg, this is one of the lightest manual gearboxes on the market, and it is one of the very best manual boxes we tested this year so far…
Opel’s well proportioned styling language
As with the ADAM, the design of the new Corsa is ruled by Opel’s latest design philosophy of ‘sculptural artistry meets German engineering’. This design language can be seen in the complex curvature of all the surfaces, reinforced by quality details such as the Opel signature ‘wing’ LED daytime running lights and silver vision bulbs in the indicator lights to avoid an irritating yellow tint when unlit.
From the front, the new Corsa is immediately recognisable as a member of the new Opel family, the bold styled grille amply shows it. Also from the side and rear the Corsa is pleasing. At the rear, wide horizontally-split tail lights help to visually widen the car and the rear roofline in particular has undergone specific aerodynamic tweaking for optimised efficiency and stability.
Interior with upmarket touches...
We like the wing-shaped instrument panel (IP) top-pad, which carries nice round clocks, chrono styled and satin chrome framed, which conveys a pleasant aura of sportiness. Also the elegant decor line with satin chrome strip across the dashboard, emphasising the width and spaciousness of the interior, is quite tasteful and gives the Corsa dash a premium character, along with the glossy surfaces found on the centre console and heating/ventilation commands.
The steering wheel with the small and efficiently-packaged airbag cover looks good, and the controls are ergonomically placed. The leather rim has nicely finished stitching and feels "just right".
There are three configurations - Essentia, Enjoy and Cosmo. Our test car came with the top of the range Cosmo package. In addition to the 3D embossed fabrics, a two-tone accent colour which matches the seats wraps from the lower IP into the door trim, visually widening the cabin and creating an ambience more typical of upmarket cars. The Corsa is practical too, with a compartment for 1.5-litre bottles. The centre console also includes convenient details such as three cup holders. In front of the gear lever, there is an innovative, flexible cup holder.
Opel has also refined the aerodynamics of the vehicle in order to reduce interior noise. Special sealing on the B-pillar, door handles, side- and rear windows along with an optimised bonnet edge reduce wind noise significantly by 2.3 dB. Indeed, up to high cruising speeds, the car is quiet, and the audio system can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Connectivity is also the word in the new Corsa. It is Opel’s IntelliLink infotainment system, standard on Cosmo. IntelliLink is fully compatible with the latest Android and Apple iOS-based smartphones.
IntelliLink has a standard seven-inch colour touchscreen and its home page provides access to five major functions: phone, audio, gallery, settings and apps. Audio streaming via Bluetooth and USB also includes Gracenote music management and identification technology.
BringGo is IntelliLink’s navigation app. It can be easily downloaded from the phone’s app store and, once downloaded, the map data remains installed on the user’s smartphone, which means Corsa owners do not need an ongoing smartphone broadband connection to use the BringGo navigation system. BringGo solely uses the smartphone’s GPS to locate the Corsa. BringGo also provides functionality for live traffic updates, accident information, Points of Interest (POIs) and Google search.
The Stitcher app is a useful global podcast internet radio service which lets users listen to programmes live, or after they have been broadcast. Once Stitcher is downloaded to the smartphone, Corsa owners can access more than 10 000 podcasts on demand, including radio shows and live stations from around the world, via the Corsa’s IntelliLink touchscreen.
With access to a global network of 70 000 radio stations, the TuneIn app is of course pure bliss. The integration of Apple iOS devices within IntelliLink also enables Siri Eyes Free voice control. This makes it possible for drivers to make calls, play music, send and receive messages and emails with received messages read out aloud, and access calendar functions like set alarms, check reminders or respond to meeting requests – all with their eyes on the road and hand on the wheel. Need we say more?
Lighting and driver assistance systems are at the rendez-vous in the new Corsa. bi-xenon headlamps on selected models with static cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. The static cornering lights are triggered when the indicators are activated or when reverse gear is selected, providing added illumination of corners and obstacles.
Forming part of the ‘Sight and Light Pack’, the bi-xenon headlights are mated to an auto-dimming interior mirror, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlight control.
The abovementioned APA2 parking system partners with Side Blind Spot Alert, which also uses the ultrasonic sensors to warn the driver of an imminent collision when changing lanes.
The sensors have a range of three metres to the left and right of the car, enabling them to detect objects or other vehicles in the driver’s blind spot. Whenever another vehicle comes within range of the sensors, a warning LED illuminates in the relevant exterior door mirror. Impressively, the system is active up to 140 km/h.
All new Corsa models feature a raft of standard safety equipment as well. These include ABS with EBD and BAS, adaptive brake lights and automatic hazard warning lights, disc brakes all-round, the latest Electronic Stability Programme (ESP Plus), six airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, a pedal release system, ISOFIX child seat anchor points, pre-tensioned seat belts, a seat belt reminder and an anti-theft alarm and immobiliser.
The ESP Plus includes a number of advanced assistance systems:
- Straight Line Stability Control recognises and tendency towards instability under braking and adjusts brake pressure accordingly
- Cornering Brake Control improves stability during cornering by reducing brake pressure of individual wheels
- Drag Torque Control prevents loss of grip due to engine brake torque on slippery roads
- Active Rollover Protection reacts in cases of high speeds and sharp curves, whereby ESP Plus slows the vehicle down to prevent rolling over, for example when a loaded roof carrier is fitted
- Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist automatically raises braking pressure to compensate potential brake fade
- Hill Start Assist prevents downhill movement of the vehicle when pulling off on an uphill slops without using the handbrake
The new Corsa is an impressive contender in its class, and no wonder it is so popular. It has now a very young and smooth heart, a truly excellent three cylinder engine. The new chassis and suspension makes for very entertaining and precise handling, improved noise suppression make it an excellent long distance cruiser, as well as pleasant and nimble in the city. Add to this the premium quality materials and finish, the well proportioned looks, the up to the mark frugality, and you will agree that it will win the hearts of many buyers, who also like to stay connected, which they really can!
Hans Knol ten Bensel