This week came more reports of the new Opel Corsa. What have they done, we ask, what have they done?
I didn’t expect two of these articles in one week. Yet here we find Opel having a “what have they done?” moment. Opel describe this as a new vehicle but we’d class this as a very comprehensive facelift. The main architecture of the car remains the same and, in my view, the addition of the black tab on the rear of the 3-door’s sideglass does not distract from this fact, and nor do the new front or rear forms. What else is different?
Every suspension component has been reworked, say Opel. The main changes are a stiffer front subframe and revised suspension for “more taut and precise handling… understeer has been reined in and friction dialled out”. A 5mm lower centre of gravity will help here (but not a lot, I’d say). There will be a light-mode for city steering. The UK gets a version the suspension tuned for its road conditions.
The new interior (attractive) is loaded with features: Vauxhall’s 7-inch touchscreen “IntelliLink” system (down close to your knee) has voice control, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth, and both Android and Apple compatibility. I have no idea what this means; something to do with mobile telephony, I suppose.
As with the mechanicals, the aim appears to be a thorough-going renovation with the addition of a lot of new features rather than serious remodelling of the body. The engine range features a much more refined three-cylinder and two of the less pleasant gearboxes have been ditched. That three-cylinder is aiming at Ford’s equivalent, and should address criticisms of Opel’s less-fuel efficient engines.
On the outside we see the 2006 Opel Corsa “D” has got a thick respray with Mark Adams’ (Opel’s designer) signature motifs. There’s the blade graphic from the Insignia, Astra and Adam. The nose is more prognathous. The lamps now conform the busy style that is, I feel, about to go out of fashion this month. Around the rear, the lamps are also inspired by the Insignia. While I think the Insignia is a fine car, it is nearing the end of its run so for Opel to link this “new” Corsa to a model lying at the senior end of the spectrum is a bit of a mis-step.
I would have to ask quite why Opel chose not to revise this model more, to the point of being an unqualified new vehicle as it did in 1993, 2000 and 2006. The Opel Corsa is sold in a wide variety of countries and as such is an important mainstay of GM’s global sales. One might imagine that such volumes (83,000 of them were sold in the UK) would justify a larger investment than they appear to have made.
In this form, the Opel Corsa is an unhappy mix of applied styling cues and an underlying architecture nearing ten years old. The small family car market can only be described as competitive. Ford and VW must be very pleased to see this effort from Opel. And Opel’s sales people and line-workers must be having a little weep at the moment if this is what they are going to market and make respectively.
I can imagine that the technical changes will make the Corsa a competitive car from that standpoint. However, it’s regrettable that they are cloaked in reheated Russelsheim forms. For the most part Opel has made a good job of avoiding the kind of management that blights GM cars in the US. Cynical underinvestment, for example. Here though we might suspect interference from a careless Detroit management that has not understood how important the Corsa is, in the UK, in Germany and worldwide.