WRITTEN BY IAN MCLAREN @IanMcLaren76
From names like Kadett, Astra, Monza, Superboss and the venerable Corsa bakkie, there can’t be many South African households without a hint of fond memories around the Opel brand. While various changes in ownership of this German car maker – and the subsequent repositioning of its products within these respective family trees – have seen it steadily lose ground in terms of local market share, there’s good news on the horizon.
In new owners, Stellantis (the fourth-largest motor brand in the world), Opel looks set to enjoy the benefits of fresh thinking, modern packaging and the latest under-the-skin technologies.
Introducing this exciting new direction for Opel in our market is the sixth generation Corsa hatch.
Well, everything really. The Corsa is now built on the same platform as the forthcoming new Peugeot 208 (with this model set to be positioned more upmarket than the Opel when it arrives here later this year). This means, the little Opel is both more solid and lighter than the previous-generation car. This is good news in terms of both efficiency and how enjoyable this historically fun-to-drive model feels on the road.
Opel South Africa has launched the new Corsa in three model options (with a significant fourth entry to follow shortly). While the base car still comes with some impressive standard equipment, it’s the Edition models – including a forthcoming automatic version – that Opel thinks will prove most popular. This package is upgraded via 16-inch alloy wheels and a more comprehensive touchscreen infotainment system compared with the entry-level car.
Both the base and Edition models feature an award-winning 1.2-litre non-turbocharged engine, with the top-of-the-range Elegance (that we drove on the launch) version including a turbo to improve outputs to 96 kW and 230 N.m, respectively. Matched with a six-speed automatic gearbox, this obviously makes it the go-getter of the range in terms of performance.
On the road
True to form, the new Corsa feels light and nimble on the road, complemented by one the best ride qualities over bumpy road surfaces in this class. The cabin too, is impressively quiet.
There’s a lot to like about the way the smallest modern Opel (sadly, the Adam has been discontinued) goes about its business. The steering is nice and light and, combined with relatively compact dimensions, town driving, specifically, is a doddle.
While luggage capacity is on a par with rivals like the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra, rear passenger legroom is a little tight, by comparison with the Volkswagen, specifically.
Should I buy the new Opel Corsa?
Fresh styling and clever packaging aside, the new Opel Corsa represents an exciting future for a reinvigorated Opel brand. Expect the number of dealerships (currently 35 nationwide) to expand in time, with rebranding set to reflect a level of enthusiasm aimed at reigniting excitement levels of old around Opel.
As with any non-turbo engine in our market, I’d advise a considered test drive of the 55 kW/118 N.m Corsa to make sure it offers enough performance (especially at altitude) to complement your lifestyle but, assuming it does, the new Corsa is a particularly impressive contender in this ever-important segment. Don’t let the asking price scare you, there’s lots of big car specification included throughout the range.
PRICING OF THE NEW OPEL CORSA
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