The Vauxhall Corsa Red Edition is a warm hatch with plenty of appeal. Jonathan Crouch tries one.
Ten Second Review
Like the thought of a Vauxhall Corsa VXR hot hatch but can't quite stretch to the £18,500 asking price? Then help is at hand in the form of this almost-as-quick Corsa Red Edition with its perky 150PS 1.4-litre turbo engine. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
There's a lot to be said for what the industry calls 'warm hatches' - quick versions of superminis or family hatches that are fast enough to reward you but don't carry with them the higher running costs, expensive asking prices or crippling insurance premiums that apply to 'proper' full fat hot hatches. In the supermini segment, a number of brands have been doing very well with cars like these, SEAT's Ibiza FR, Volkswagen's Polo R-Line and Ford's Fiesta Zetec S all doing good business for their respective brands. Vauxhall now wants a piece of that action too, hence the Corsa Red Edition model we're looking at here. It gets a willing 150PS 1.4-litre turbo petrol powerplant borrowed from the ADAM S and is pitched in £1,500 below the range-topping Corsa VXR.
This four-cylinder 1.4-litre turbo engine sits alongside Vauxhall's 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo unit in offering petrol buyers something with real talent. Unlike the three-pot, this 1.4-litre isn't all-new, instead being a redesign of an existing powerplant. The results certainly earn this engine an extended lease of life though. Power is rated at an even 150PS, and the torque figures of this engine clue you in on the best way to drive it. The healthy 220Nm of torque arrives at just 1,850rpm and ebbs away at a modest 3,500rpm, so this engine is anything but rev-happy. It's like a diesel in that regard, lugging well from low revs. As for performance figures, well the Red Edition gets to 62mph in 8.9s seconds, over 2s quicker than the 100PS version of this 1.4-litre turbo unit can manage. It then goes onto a 129mph top speed (14mph more). The long-legged and relaxed feel to the engine suits the chassis and cornering is well controlled with relatively little body roll.
Design and Build
There's a choice of three or five-door bodystyles but either way, outside, the Red edition gets more than bright paintwork. There's a gloss-black roof, black mirror surrounds, a bodykit and smart 17-inch alloys. Inside, the Red is pretty much the same as the regular three-door Corsa, apart from some red detailing on the dashboard. The piano-black panel across the fascia delivers a premium feel. There are no sports seats but some of the design detailing is quite assured, including the sculptural 'blade' running across the lower door-sections. A driver control centre takes pride of place within the instrument panel, which is themed around horizontal lines. The fourth-generation Corsa was also the first high-volume Vauxhall to be available with IntelliLink, the communications system which has already been seen in the ADAM. Here, the set-up's embellished with the 'OnStar' concierge system that'll answer questions and direct you. Luggage space is rated at 280-litres - or 1,090-litres with the rear bench folded.
Market and Model
Prices start at just over £17,200 for the three-door Corsa Red Edition and there's a £600 premium to pay if you want the five-door model. That means a £1,500 saving for three-door customers over the price of a full-fat Corsa VXR hot hatch. There's also a 'Black Edition' version by the way. The Red Edition gets a decent array of standard equipment for that modest asking price. Expect to find air conditioning, an IntelliLink stereo with GM's 'OnStar' concierge system. The infotainment set-up also includes digital radio, Bluetooth, USB and iPod controls as well as steering wheel-mounted audio controls and cruise control. Then there's a trip computer, automatic lights and wipers, heated door mirrors, LED daytime running lights, a 60/40 split rear seat and a driver's seat height adjuster. Safety systems include six airbags and stability control, but should you want to go further, you can option in Side Blindspot Alert, High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning, bi-xenon lights and a rear-view camera.
Cost of Ownership
This Red Edition model nets a combined cycle economy figure of 49.6mpg, with carbon dioxide emissions rated at 132g/km. There's the usual three year, 60,000 mile warranty.
It seems that plenty of supermini buyers want a car like this. Namely one that has a little more perk than normal - but not so much that running costs are adversely affected. Yes, you could argue that a good turbo diesel would offer that, but if you don't want to fuel from the black pump, then a reasonably efficient petrol unit makes a good alternative. This Red Edition Corsa looks good, feels fun and is priced sensibly. Will that be enough in the face of talented rivals? It'll probably come down to the bottom line deal you're offered. Get the figure right and you probably won't be disappointed with the car.