SA LAUNCH DRIVE: Opel’s all-new Corsa impresses
JOHANNESBURG - Opel has a proud track record in South Africa having been around for 86 years and there was some concern about their future when GM withdrew from the country especially because at one stage they owned 9 percent of the local market share.
There was a bit of flip flopping prior to the German brand now having been taken over by the Stellantis Group, which is the fourth biggest motor manufacturer in the world with 400 000 employees.
It seems then that things are pretty safe and what better way to confirm this than with the launch of the ever-popular new Corsa.
The Corsa far outstripped any of Opel’s other offerings over the years and it looks set to continue as it tackles the opposition in the B segment with this sixth generation variant.
The styling leans towards the conservative side with elements of the Opel Wing design which I reckon counts in its favour because it’s not over the top and will likely appeal to more sober buyers considering it for their garage.
In the range-topping Elegance spec the black roof adds an extra bit of class to a package that already looks good.
The interior immediately gives an impression of quality and while it’s pretty much standard in the segment with a fair amount of soft-touch surfaces as well as hard-wearing plastic components, the build quality feels solid and hard wearing.
The Elegance model seats get leatherette upholstery and there’s lots of storage space in an interior that’s neat and uncluttered with a seven-inch digital cluster.
Rear legroom has been increased by 20mm but it’s still tight for taller people like myself while boot space comes in at 309 litres and with the split folding rear seats down, 1081 litres.
Under the bonnet you get two options. In the base model Corsa and mid-spec Corsa edition there’s the award-winning 1.2 litre PureTech three cylinder normally aspirated engine producing 55kW and 118Nm of torque paired with a five speed manual gearbox with a claimed consumption of 5.8L/100km..
In the turbo-charged Elegance there’s 96kW and 230Nm on tap which is powered by a very smooth six speed automatic transmission and weighing in at under a ton will get to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 207km/h. Those are not bad numbers at all for a tiny three pot motor.
The Elegance is brimming with safety and tech features not often found in this section. 180⁰ view reverse camera, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision alert, front pedestrian detection and Collision Mitigation Braking come standard as do heated seats and LED headlamps and high beam assist.
The seven-inch touchscreen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
Driving the Corsa is a pleasure, it feels solidly planted and the engine doesn’t mind hitting the high notes. Steering is light and easy with enough feedback to the steering wheel to tell you exactly what’s going on.
We drove some horrendous roads around the Magaliesburg area and during the first stint on 17-inch alloys we found them a lot more uncomfortable than the 16-inch alloy wheels fitted on the cars after the vehicle swop.
Gear changes are very smooth and while the software is set up to get to the highest gear as quickly as possible for optimum fuel consumption, you can move the gear selector into manual mode for a more sprightly performance.
There is currently a dealer network of 35 with more in the pipeline and with the Corsa a welcome competitor in the segment it will be interesting to see how buyers react to it.
CORSA R 274 900 1.2 55 kW 5-speed Manual
CORSA EDITION R 294 900 1.2 55 kW 5-speed Manual
CORSA ELEGANCE R 386 900 1.2 Turbo 96kW 6-speed Automatic