The Corsa has gone fully electric - but how does it drive? Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader, gives us the low down on Vauxhall's first small electric car
The Corsa has been one of the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars for years now, vying with the Ford Fiesta for top spot. Now it’s offered in pure electric form, which gives Corsa fans an eco version to consider, if their budgets can stretch that far, because one thing it’s not is cheap.
Take one look, then look away again, because the Corsa-e starts at £27,665, and our test car with all the bells and whistles came in at a staggering £30,000, after the £3,000 government grant for electric cars. Considering that a petrol Corsa starts at about £15,750, we’re talking double the money.
However. It’s not as painful as it seems. For a start, if you buy it on a monthly finance deal, it’s going to cost you around another £60 a month, which is more manageable. On top of that, your running costs are going to be a whole lot lower. No road tax, no Benefit In Kind tax on running it as a company car, no congestion charge, fewer moving parts to go wrong or need servicing, and, if you have a cheap overnight energy tariff from your electricity provider, it’ll cost you about 3p per mile to drive, as opposed to 7-8p per mile if you filled it with petrol.
Some will love the fact that the electric Corsa looks and feels just like a normal Corsa, while others will be disappointed that you don’t get different styling to mark it out as electric, and therefore a little bit futuristic. Personally, we love the fact that this feels no different inside or out to a normal Corsa.
Our test car was painted a fabulous Power Orange, which is a more mellow colour than the name suggests, with black roof and pillars. Inside, in contrast, the soft plastics and smart seat fabrics are black, giving a smart city aura to this chunky, vibrant small hatchback.
The Corsa-e comes in the top two trim levels only – SE Nav and Elite Nav, so although that price is high, you do get a lot of equipment.
Standard equipment on our test car, which was the higher Elite nav trim, included smartphone connectivity, a 10in touchscreen, heated front seats and steering wheel (although you’d be brave to use them in an electric car when conserving range), panoramic rear-view camera, speed-sign recognition, lane-departure alert, blind-spot alert and automatic braking in the case of an imminent collision.
The downside is you’re lumbered with Vauxhall’s (and Peugeot’s and Citroen’s as they’re all in the same group) truly awful satnav system. Best revert to Google Maps via your phone.
The Corsa has firm suspension anyway, and this electric version makes matters worse because you’ve got a lot of low-down weight with the battery and motors. It crashes unnervingly through potholes, should you be unlucky enough to drive through one, and sounds like you’ve broken the car.
However, on smoother surfaces, the small little chassis means this is a delight to drive, with quick steering and plenty of visibility, making parking manoeuvres a doddle.
The boot is big enough for shopping, although probably not pram systems. We even took the parcel shelf out and put the labrador in there to take him to his morning walk. There’s also enough leg room for a seven- and nine-year-old in the back and a granny in the passenger seat.
The electric system takes 7.5 hours to charge to full from empty on a standard 7kW domestic wallbox, and five hours at a public charging point. Vauxhall claims 209 miles’ maximum range, although we got about 180 miles from ours. You can choose eco, standard or sport modes for driving, and the last one gives you a very noticeable extra boost of acceleration, to beat anyone away from the lights. Pull the gear level back to “B” and the car will slow more when you lift off the throttle pedal, recouping some energy as it does, although it’s nowhere near as strong a system as the Nissan Leaf’s.
Altogether you get 136 horsepower which makes the Corsa-e a pretty nippy little slice of electric ownership.