Having launched internationally almost 2 years ago, the local arm of Opel has finally debuted the new Corsa into Mzansi! Alex Shahini took it for a spin
Opel South Africa may have introduced the initial 55kW range of the updated Corsa and Corsa Edition at the start of 2021, but they were waiting for the arrival of the range-topping Elegance derivative before doing an official press launch. So, we got comfortable with the peppy 96kW model and took it along the scenic mountain routes of the Magaliesburg earlier this month.
While the selected route was filled with long stretches of straight tarmac and the occasional undulating hillclimb-esque road profile, the new Opel arrival made light work of it all. In addition to its sprightly-orientated handling and lightweight steering input, the expanses of tarmac filled with creviced surfaces and potholes were comfortably traversed, while overtaking slow moving traffic on single lane roads was as effortless as pushing the accelerator pedal down. The overall impression after the first 10 minutes at the wheel impressed significantly enough to immediately justify stacking it up to some of its immediate competitors; the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Hyundai i20.
Historically, Opel have enjoyed a strong rapport in South Africa – with 86 uninterrupted years more recently winning 4 local prestigious Car Of The Year titles and selling 500 000 vehicles since 1994 (180 000 being the Corsa but excluding the Utility bakkie). This is a longer relationship than most of the aforementioned brands. This has enabled the brand to cement itself into the hearts of many locals with cult favorites such as the Superboss, OPC and GSI.
While the 6 generations of the Corsa have successfully sold 14 million units globally since its inception in 1982, the automotive world has changed significantly since then. New market offerings from brands are seldom bad and general quality and user interface with vehicles has increased exponentially. The new Opel Corsa is a prime example of this – not that any of their previous 5 generations have been severely sub-par with the segment.
The new generation, in line with refreshed brand identity has elevated itself, partially due to the recent Stellantis merger of FCA and PSA. What this means for the consumer is the Corsa has become the first Opel branded car to be based on a Stellantis platform – the front-engine, front-wheel drive Common Modular Platform (CMP) already proven with the Peugeot 208 and Citroen C4. This results in less time squandered by Opel developing a platform/chassis, allowing for more focus and budget on refinement and usability. Affiliations with the 4th largest automobile manufacturer by volume have their perks.
Lightness and efficiency form core aspects of the updated brand pillar of ‘greenovation’, with the entire local range making use of the frugal 1.2-litre 3-cylinder motors, our range topping 96kW turbocharged derivative sipped just over 6L/100km over a 300km open road journey. The low consumption can be partially accredited to flat underbody panelling spanning the length of the car while its drag coefficient of just 0.29 enables it to use less energy to keep its momentum. With an all-aluminum engine and weight reduction all around, the Corsa is 10% lighter than the outgoing car tipping the scales at just 980kg depending on the selected spec. This feathery automotive mass enables responsive braking in sticky situations while speeds in excess of freeway markings still feel safe with the car remaining planted to the tarmac while maneuvering. This can also be accredited to its firm but comfortable suspension which combined with its lightness mitigates excessive body roll and improves general handling characteristics.
Powering the Corsa is a choice of 2 motors spread across 3 derivatives, both the entry-level Corsa and mid-range Corsa Edition make use of a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre 3 cylinder petrol motor with a maximum power output of 55kW coupled to a 5-speed manual gearbox mounted transversely across the engine bay. The Elegance derivative which we tested makes use of the same motor with the benefit of forced induction, the added turbo bumps its ratings up to 96kW and a smooth 6-speed automatic seamlessly takes care of the gearing. The auto-box provided a comfortable and refined journey, with sensibly laid out gear ratios and easy changes, particularly when downshifting for overtaking.
In line with the ‘Modern German’ brand identity, the Corsa adds a bit of funk into the mixture with a selection of 7 factory colours including show stopping shades such as Orange Fizz, Pepperoncino Red or Voltaic Blue – which compliment the aesthetics of the car. A two tone option can be specced with a black roof on any of the exterior colours.
The interior amenities are adequate, with a central infotainment system capable of navigation, Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. The non-configurable driver screen (on the Elegance models) displays all crucial information in a rudimentary but sensible manner – more affordable models in the range get analog dials. The interior combines a selection of different materials and comfortable touchpoints creating an enjoyable environment for the driver. The rear door-well is slightly narrow and awkward to interact with but interior space once seated is impressive, with taller passengers afforded reasonable leg and knee room in the rear.
While no 2 door variants are on the cards, Opel has confirmed pricing on the full Corsa range of 2021. Starting at R274 900 for the Corsa base model and progressing to R386 900 for the Elegance. With its handsome looks and funky attitude, it should give the usual B-Hatchback contenders a good run for their money.