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We drive Opel's classy little Corsa 5

Published Feb 20, 2015

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By: Denis Droppa

Cape Town - Opel almost didn’t survive the crisis of a few years ago that saw its parent company General Motors nearly going bankrupt and being bailed out by the US government.

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Now that the ship’s been financially steadied, Opel has come off life support and is firing product at us from all angles.

Following the launch of the new Adam in January as Opel’s compact “character” car, the new Corsa hatchback and the Mokka compact SUV are both set to reach South African showrooms at the end of next month.

Only four months after its international debut at the Paris Motor Show, we got to drive the fifth-generation Corsa (it’s the fourth one in this country) at its media launch in Cape Town earlier this week.

Apart from confirming that the aircon system’s very effective, with the mother city’s temperatures soaring into the mid-thirties on the day I drove it, the new Corsa shows that while GM’s bean counters were hovering over Opel’s life-support switch, the engineers were apparently redoubling their efforts to build good cars.

Because Corsa version five is an impressive little package that makes a classy rival to the likes of Ford’s Fiesta and the VW Polo.

‘WE LIVE CARS’

The “Wir leben autos” tag line (we live cars) is evident in the German hatchback’s build quality and general execution. It’s roomy (for a B-segment hatchback), refined, and has a gem of a one-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol engine. There will also be a 1.4 normally-aspirated derivative down the line as well as a high-powered 152kW OPC version.

With 85kW on tap it’s a punchy little powerplant with a willing nature that, because of the turbo assistance, feels much more lively than its modest cubic capacity would suggest. With 170Nm from just 1800rpm the engine’s torquey and doesn’t require frantic revving, so at 80km/h you can slot it into sixth gear (there’s no auto available) and let it cruise happily along in a fuel-sipping fashion. Our test car averaged an economical 5.9 litres per 100km during the launch drive.

It’s a quiet little unit too, underlaid by a subtle three-cylinder thrum to add a little vocal character. New suspension gives the all-new Corsa very tidy handling along with a notably plush ride for a small car, while the power steering has a normal mode as well as a super-light City setting for those with frail arms.

STYLING PIZZAZZ

The cabin’s taken a big step forward in look and feel, including a soft-touch dashboard with a swoopy style. In terms of the quality of its finishes the new cabin at least matches, if not overtakes, the bar-setting Polo, while its styling pizzazz knocks the conservative Veedub out of the water.

Corsa’s offered in three trim levels: Essentia, Enjoy, and Cosmo, each of which comes with features such as daytime running lights, electric windows and mirrors, six airbags, ABS brakes, tyre pressure monitoring and stability control as standard. However, if you want aircon and an audio system in the baseline Essentia, you’ll have to fork out extra for an option pack.

The gizmos get better as you move up the range; the flagship Corsa Cosmo is laden with toys that include cruise control, auto wipers and headlamps, LED daytime running lights. Available optionally are features such as blind spot alert and park assist.

INTELLILINK

The IntelliLink infotainment system, which brings the connected world of smartphones and apps into the car, is available as an option on Enjoy and Essentia models, and standard on Cosmo. IntelliLink is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones.

IntelliLink has a seven-inch colour touchscreen and provides access to the 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 downloaded from the phone's app store and, once downloaded, the map data remains installed on the smartphone, which means Corsa owners don't need an ongoing smartphone broadband connection to use the BringGo navigation system, because it relies solely on the phone's GPS. BringGo also provides live traffic updates, accident information, Points of Interest and Google search.

The Stitcher app is a global podcast internet radio service which lets users listen to programmes either live or delayed, from radio stations around the world.

The TuneIp app has access to a global network of 70 000 radio stations. The integration of Apple iOS devices within IntelliLink also enables Siri Eyes Free voice control, making 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 such as setting alarms, check reminders or respond to meeting requests - all with their eyes on the road and hand on the wheel.

From being a “sleeper” brand in the past few years, Opel’s revival is well underway and the new Corsa should be causing worried brows amongst the opposition.

PRICES:

Corsa 1.0T Essentia - R185 500

Corsa 1.0T Enjoy - R216 200

Corsa 1.0T Cosmo - R236 300

These include a five-year or 120 000km warranty and a three-year or 60 000km service plan. - Star Motoring

Follow me on Twitter @DenisDroppa

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