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Driven: Vauxhall Corsa GSi. Image by Vauxhall UK.

Driven: Vauxhall Corsa GSi
A warm hatch to replace the departed VXR it may be, but the Vauxhall Corsa GSi has one big flaw: its price.

   



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Vauxhall Corsa GSi

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Good points: looks good, handles well, return of an evocative performance badge

Not so good: way too much money, hard ride, not massively quick, did we mention it was way too much money?

Key Facts

Model tested: Vauxhall Corsa GSi 1.4i Turbo
Price: Corsa 'E' range from 11,735; GSi from 19,440, car as tested 22,775
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: three-door warm hatch
CO2 emissions: 148g/km (VED Band 131-150: 210 in year one, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 43.5mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 220Nm at 2,750-4,500rpm
Boot space: 280-1,090 litres

Our view:

We'll keep this one short(ish), because the Vauxhall Corsa 'E' is on its last legs now, due to be replaced by the PSA-developed Corsa 'F' any day soon. But if you're half-wondering whether you should pop into your nearest Vauxhall dealership and snap up one of the last of the Corsa GSi models as a bit of a gamble, we've got a quick answer for you: no. Don't do it. Not unless the dealer is Malfunctioning Eddie, who totally loses his marbles and offers you a 50 per cent discount there and then.

The problem here is that the GSi trades on an old Vauxhall performance badge, one which used to mean 'we don't make nuffin' quicker' back in the day. But, since the moniker's revival on the larger Insignia, it is clear it has become a lesser, possibly interim replacement for Vauxhall's hottest VXR models. And while the Insignia GSi is a hit, mainly because the laid-back-performance character suits the grander Griffin better, on the Corsa you're merely left ruing the departure of the 205hp, 1.6-litre VXR real thing.

The GSi promises plenty, even though Vauxhall is at pains to point out that it's absolutely not a replacement for the VXR. It has a more lukewarm 1.4-litre, 150hp/220Nm motor, it doesn't have the Corsa VXR Performance Pack's Drexler mechanical limited-slip diff... but it does have the Koni Frequency Selective Dampers (FSDs), it does have much of the VXR's bold exterior styling, it does have the same sports-style front seats (full Nappa leather Recaros are a 1,055 upgrade and our test car had them - wonderful!) and, as an option, you can bolt on 18-inch five Y-spoke diamond-cut alloys (510) to make it look properly sporty. Indeed, in the signature and eye-catching Mandarina paintwork, the Corsa GSi looks ready to take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and the Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport.

Except, plainly, with only 150hp, an 8.9-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 129mph, it cannot take on the ST and GTi by PS; it's nowhere near in the same league. Oh, it handles almost every bit as well as the departed VXR PP, but it doesn't have the traction out of corners that its diff-equipped forebear does and it's more prone to understeer than the hottest Corsa ever was. Similarly, where the Koni FSDs seemed to work wonders on the VXR, here on the GSi the ride quality feels ever so slightly too firm. So the Vauxhall doesn't quite swing the other way and manage to provide a sportier-looking yet just-as-daily-usable alternative to something urbane like a Volkswagen Polo GTI. It remains a touch too frenetic for that.

Vauxhall also cites the GSi as being easier to insure than the VXR and cheaper on the wallet, too, and while we're not about to argue with the former point, on the latter we're not so sure. We only drove it on fiddly country roads and the best we could get out of it was 37mpg on a steady 56mph A-road cruise, while an overall figure of 29mpg isn't exactly much to write home about. Furthermore, we only drove it for 77 miles in total during our time with it. The point here being, we could have driven more, but the GSi didn't exactly entice us in to do so.

All of the above, mind, could possibly be forgivable, except for the final huge elephant in the room: the GSi's monumental price. If Vauxhall had've flung this up for 16,500 or 16,995, as a final way to shift a few Corsa Es, we'd have been far more understanding of it. But Vauxhall didn't; instead, it fell into the self-same pricing trap as the Suzuki Swift Sport, only the Corsa GSi tumbled in with far more cataclysmic force. The GSi's starting price... was 19,440. That's 445 more than the cheapest Fiesta ST. Quite incredibly, it's 1,445 more than Vauxhall started the Corsa VXR at, just four years ago when it launched. And it gets worse: our test car had not only the Recaro seats and the 18-inch Y-spoke wheels, but also Navi 4.0 Intellilink infotainment (650), front and rear parking sensors (465), electronic climate control (415) and a Sight and Light Pack (240). The resulting price was a frankly astounding 22,775. Come on!! TWENTY-THREE GRAND for a warm hatchback?! Plainly, that's outrageous pricing. It doesn't bear thinking about what spec of Fiesta ST you'd get for such a huge heap of cash... and, compounding the GSi's horrendously rich faux-pas, the very next test car we had lined up was a fully-laden, Silver Fox ST-3. OK, it was 25,520, but it felt easily 2,745 the Corsa's superior; in fact, it could have been twice the price of the Vauxhall and it still would have been the preferable machine.

So the GSi is simply not good enough for its exorbitant price tag. If Vauxhall has to persist with this performance branding for the Corsa F, here's hoping the company gets it to around 180hp and manages to charge less than 20 grand for it. As it is, all we're left with after driving the Corsa GSi for a week is a painful yearning for the return of the VXR days.

Alternatives:

Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line: you could get a 140hp/180Nm EcoBoost Fiesta in sporty ST-Line trim for 18,440. You don't need to be Rachel Riley to work out how much cheaper than the GSi that is. And it's a better car, as well.

Suzuki Swift Sport: we didn't think we'd come across a warm hatch that would make the SSS look like tremendous value, but the GSi has done it. Suzuki claims the yen-to-GBP exchange is to blame for its robust pricing; what's Vauxhall's excuse?

Volkswagen up! GTI: there will be plenty who will tell you this isn't a 'proper' warm hatch but just a tarted-up 90hp TSI. Nevertheless, it's terrific fun to hoon, it costs less than 14 grand as a three-door and it's about as quick as the heftier GSi.


Matt Robinson - 13 Mar 2019



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2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.

2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi UK test. Image by Vauxhall UK.








 

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