Opel's Corsa is getting bit long in the tooth. The current model was launched in 2006, and simply doesn't stack up against the younger Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo. It's after a long wait, then, that Opel has released its 5th generation Corsa. The updated car combines new engines with a totally redesigned chassis, and promises to be more a more engaging and efficient drive than before.
Key to the success of any new car is its engine, and the little Opel is packing a range of new powerplants in its quest for small car dominance. The Corsa has joined the trend for downsizing, with a three-cylinder Ecotec 1.0-liter turbocharged engine that comes in 66 kW (90 hp) or 85 kW (115 hp) varieties. Both spec levels pack 170 Nm of torque from just 1,800 rpm, to give the driver plenty of punch when zipping in and out of traffic.
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To deal with the vibrations that come with an odd-numbered cylinder count, Opel's three-cylinder motor is fitted with a balance shaft, which cuts down on unpleasant sensations from the engine.
As well as the new 1.0-liter engine, Opel is offering two naturally aspirated petrol engines and a 1.4-liter turbocharged motor making 74 kW (100 hp) and 200 Nm of torque. Diesel engines are crucial in Europe, so the Corsa is also available with a 1.3-liter CDTI that makes 55 or 70 kW (95 hp). In 70 kW trim, the engine emits 89 g/km of CO2.
The petrol engines are coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed auto, while the diesel model is available with a 5-speed manual or the 6-speed auto. Interestingly, Opel also will offer an automated manual, which it claims is as efficient as a manual and as smooth as a torque convertor.
In keeping with the more refined three-cylinder engine, Opel has focused on making the Corsa "drive like a bigger car." The German supermini has a stiffer subframe, redesigned suspension geometry and a 5 mm lower center of gravity than its predecessor, helping give the new car a more stable feel on the road. Opel says the 5th generation Corsa is so new, no chassis components have been carried over from the old car.
To complement the new chassis setup, the Corsa's steering has been given a thorough working over. The "speed-sensitive" electric power-steering system is more direct than before and can be made lighter at low speeds with the push of a button – which is useful for parking in tight city spaces. Cars can be fitted out with Comfort or Sport chassis setups, with sports models taking advantage of stiffer spring and dampers, as well as more direct steering.
On top of all the mechanical updates, the Corsa's exterior design makes a decidedly more fluid impression than its predecessor while inside, the old Corsa's button-heavy dashboard has been totally redesigned to include Opel's new 7-inch IntelliLink touchscreen. The unit integrates apps like BringGo navigation and TuneIn online radio and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
To keep drivers out of trouble in the city, the Corsa can be fitted with a blind spot monitor and lane departure warning. It is also available with bi-xenon headlights with cornering light that illuminates the area to the side of the vehicle at low speeds, and parking assistance for tight spots. For sporty buyers, Opel's flex-fix system can be fitted.
The new Opel will be officially revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October ahead of its 2015 release.
A video overview of the Corsa's design can be viewed below.