2020 Vision.

We’ll have no shouting here…

Are you sure this is Cork? All images:  CB

Despite life returning to a semblance of normality around these parts over recent months, the sighting of 2020-registered cars remain something of a novelty. Of course cars have been registered – some having even been sold – but in a country where new car sales had already been in state of contraction before the pandemic swept all before it, the current situation facing the Irish retail sales trade must be sobering indeed.

One of the more superficial downsides to this is that sightings of new models, while normally a relatively frequent prospect, have been sporadic at best. Amongst the more recent arrivals to these shores is Opel’s current generation Corsa (none of your Vauxhalls in these parts), but to be honest, and in contrast to the (closely-related) Peugeot 208 which preceded it to market, it has been a comparatively rare sight.

During my twice-daily dog walking duties I recently happened upon a stationary 2020 Corsa. Previously lacking the opportunity, this encounter permitted a slightly more searching gaze. What it didn’t permit however, was any photographic images to be taken – the hounds simply wouldn’t hear of it – (and there are two of them). Hence, the images appended here are courtesy of our Hamburg correspondent. (To whom I extend my grateful thanks).

As we all know, the Corsa was developed (with remarkable speed it appears) on the PSA group platform upon which both Peugeot’s 208 and Citroen’s C3 are based, and while the styling of all three differs markedly, one can readily discern the bone structure beneath. Not that this is altogether a bad thing – the 208 after all is a rather arresting looking thing, even if, in three dimensions, it doesn’t quite hang together – there being just a little too much going on – at least for my taste. The Corsa, while architecturally similar, is a little calmer, more considered, both in design detail and graphic flourishes.

This doesn’t look like Cork at all…

There is, would you not agree, a notable whiff of eau de hire car about the styling of most B-segment hatchbacks nowadays, a niggling undercurrent suggesting that carmakers would much rather you forked out a bit more on the monthly stipend for their related CUV equivalent, which model for model, will be far more aggressively and seductively styled, and increasingly, a good deal less practical. Because despite being in stylistic terms the diametric opposite of the term, these models have become the modern-day coupé – and are (tacitly) marketed as such.

It’s definitely not Cork

But for all that, the Corsa is a surprisingly pleasant looking car, more resolved than either of its French cousins – the Peugeot a bit shouty, and the Citroën (like pretty much all Citroëns of current stripe) a jumbled mess of styling cues and graphics, seemingly flung at abstract. But it’s the comparison with its putative German contemporaries, (Polo/ Audi A1) that places matters into sharpest relief – because viewed alongside, the Opel’s styling puts either to shame.

Nevertheless, I don’t necessarily expect the Corsa to be a particularly populous sight on Irish roads. Opel’s fortunes here (like that of Ford’s, incidentally) are in retreat, and what action there is will likely be concentrated upon the upcoming Mokka CUV, which is scheduled to make landfall (C-19 notwithstanding), sometime early next year.

A self-fulfilling prophecy then? Because if it looks like rental fodder, surely it must inevitably become rental fodder. But at first glance at least, perhaps Rüsselsheim’s junior offering deserves a more generous reception?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

30 thoughts on “2020 Vision.”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. The new Corsa appears to be a pretty creditable effort, especially considering it’s accelerated development time. The Corsa E it replaced was pretty antiquated in that it was little more than a heavy facelift of the 2006 Corsa D.

    For me, the Corsa has always had the image of automotive white goods to it, the sort of vehicle you would buy if you’ve zero interest in cars, new on the basis of a heavy discount or cheap finance, or seconhand because they’re cheap and ubiquitous.

    Interestingly, the current UK television advertising campaign is promoting the electric version (only) with its claimed 208-mile range. Perhaps the familiarity of the Corsa name may persuade more to switch to the EV version? Time will tell.

    Does the EV version explain why the car has such a large fuel filler flap? It (almost) distracts my eye from those misaligned door handles!

  2. This is a local car for local people.

    Next thing you’ll be telling us there is a Swansea!

  3. Bah, hit send before I’d finished…

    The Corsa is inoffensively handsome, but I do prefer the Pug 206 with the Citroën version most definitely on the podiums bottom step. Having said that, all three are on the podium, knocking the German little ‘un’s into the boonies. But that fuel filler cap is positively enormous; perhaps the door handle issue is to do with the Cork/Hamburg lighting?

  4. I think the C3 is on a different, older platform from the 208 and Corsa; it’s the DS3 Crossback which shares their platform. You can tell the 208 and Corsa share various hard points of the same platform from the profile, stance and proportions. I don’t know what to make of the Corsa – it’s quite clean and uncluttered, but also a little dull.

    1. ‘Par for the Corsa’, one might say! But where’s the excitement one felt, (as a teenage paper delivery boy), when stumbling across one’s first ‘F’ Victor and the PA Cresta?

    1. Interesting times indeed. And those UK sales figures only confirm Mr O’Callaghan’s “white goods” observation, for that is what cars have (sadly) become. No longer objects of excitement for paper boys (they, too, have morphed into something entirely different).
      I don’t think the F-type Victor ever excited me – but I do remember being astonished by the 105E Anglia when I first saw it. Such a leap of progress in comparison with what it replaced and instantly recognisable in the car park. But that was in a different era with different priorities when each manufacturer wanted their models to look unique; compare, say, Ford 105E Anglia, Triumph Herald, Austin A40, Vauxhall Viva HA – and all in a market where there were still customers for the Morris Minor 1000.
      On a different tack – I see the apparent collapse of sales of vans in the Irish sales figures. On my first visit to Eire in the ’80s I noticed the large number of van versions of both 3 & 5-door hatchbacks (steel rather than glass from the B-pillar back) that were not available in the UK. Was this a tax-incentivised wheeze that no longer applies?

    2. The Corsa is the third best selling car in the UK this year, not the 5th – apologies.

  5. Opel used to enjoy a solid reputation in Ireland, well into the 1980s, when they were similar to Vauxhalls but with better quality electrics. Sadly it went pear-shaped in the 90s, with stories of cambelts falling off prematurely (plastic tensioners ?) and Vectras that Opel dealers didn’t want to accept as a part-exchange. Certainly I saw Opel bodyshells cracked in odd places.
    New marques popped up to take their place in Irish hearts, and no amount of clever styling or Jurgen Klopp advertising can turn the clock back.

    1. Hi JTC,
      Yes, the car-based van thing was very much driven by tax regulations. If you had only front seats and a cargo area it was taxable as a van rather than as a car. As cars were and are subject to a significant registration tax driving a “van” was a common choice if you didn’t need four seats. I think the importers converted cars in some cases where the manufacturers didn’t offer the relevant bodyshell. Eventually the loophole was closed…

    2. The car-based van conversion was still very prevalent here in the Republic, but it isn’t a massive shock that sales have fallen off a cliff in 2020. There are two possible reasons for this decline in sales. Firstly, the number of three-door hatchbacks left on offer is diminishing hourly. However, necessity being the mother of invention, I spotted a van conversion of the current era (5-door) Kia Ceed (as I think it’s now spelt) parked rather prominently at our local harbourside, with it’s commercial identity emblazoned in capitals upon its flanks, along with the monthly rate to ‘purchase’. To the casual glance, it looked just like an ordinary boggo Ceed. So there’s that…

      The other reason may well be the more pertinent. These vehicles were popular with businesses who operated field sales and support teams. A close relative had one (a Mark VII Golf three door, since you asked) until last year, replaced by a similarly specified Hyundai Kona (hateful thing), when he switched jobs. I also recall an uncle of mine buying a commercial version of the Discovery IV an number of years back.

      However, in the wake of the pandemic, field sales teams have either been furloughed, or are being repurposed as remote or telesales forces – a trend that is likely to continue, at least for those businesses who can derive a cost benefit from it. So not only are these vehicles not currently being replaced, there is a strong likelihood they won’t be.

    3. I remember a major courier firm had a fleet of Peugeot 305 diesel vans – these days they need LWB Transits or similar !

  6. If we are talking supermini style, I would say the Clio, Zoe and Honda e lead the pack at the moment, but I also have a liking of the current Ibiza and the Swift is growing on me (the Ignis is great, but from the class below, I think). The Polo is a shadow of its predecessor, ditto the A1, which has a scourge of pustulant faux-vents, indents and holes between the leading edge of the bonnet and grille. I’d also go Corsa, 208 and then C3, although the Pug does look rather saucy in certain trims and colours. The Fiesta looks increasingly like an aging facelift of a design which was pretty spot on from the outset, and the MINI, well, as my Mum used to say, if you can’t find something nice to say …

  7. I also stumbled across the new Corsa for the first time very recently and was interested to observe that its design is a good deal cleaner and more cohesive that that of its Peugeot sibling. That car apparently following Peugeot’s current design practice of having a talented designer do the front and back but then getting the sides done quickly by an intern. From the accountancy department. Who wasn’t allowed to look at their colleague’s work.

  8. The rear door handles are placed around 4cm forward of where one would expect them to be. The effect is to visually shorten the rear doors, implying cramped rear seating. What on earth…?

    1. The worst culprit in this regard must be the previous-generation Mercedes CLS (though it’s a detail that got lost amid all those other ‘interesting’ details):

    2. That’s an interesting example. Looking solely at the position of the handle, it’s definitely wrong. But together with the surrounding accident traces (or whatever the folds are supposed to mean) they make perfect sense. You couldn’t place them anywhere on the edge of this haunch.

    3. The only thing I would say in defence of the CLS is that at least Mercedes-Benz resisted the temptation to incorporate a ‘hidden’ door handle in the rear quarter light. Given its ‘coupé’ pretentions, it might have been considered.

    4. Good point, Daniel. I think Mercedes were among the first who advocated solid door handles that allow to pull open a jammed door after an accident. Maybe a small rest of this spirit has still survived in some corners of the Benz empire.

    5. Someone at Sindelfingen truly loves that ovoid door handle design – which was introduced with the W220 S-class in 1998 and is still in use in barely changed guise.

    6. I recall that the Lambo Urus, unlike the CLS to which Christopher refers, actually places the door handle in/ on the bulge of the door panel which forms part of the haunch over the rear wheel-arch … although I am not sure I like the visual impression of that solution either.

    7. Hmm, the Urus probably looked great in the designer’s sketches before they had to add annoying details like door handles:

  9. this Opel Corsa gives me hope for the next FIAT PUNTO and maybe even an ALFA ROMEO MiTo.

    1. I doubt that FIAT goes higher than 500 and Panda, as well as that Alfa Romeo goes below the future Tonale (if it ever comes).
      I think both brands are a dying breed, especially the latter. (The people in our area consider our Alfasud Sprint to be a BMW and our Spider S4 to be a Ferrari. So much money for PR to change peoples mind has not even a wealthier company als Alfa Romeo.)

  10. Just how those Corsa/208 oversized (and quite frankly, misplaced) door handles made it through management approval layers, remains
    a mystery.

    Both cars genuinely look as if the natural design was a 3-door (I reckon
    it would be a very strong one, had it been produced) and as if the 5-door version was a hastily approved afterthought. Most of the ‘doorhandles issue’ has to do actually with the relative sizing of the doors themselves, and the door handles’ size & position (mounted too low, apparently victims of the sub-beltline ‘gotta-have-it ironed crease’) only exacerbate this, instead of disguising it.

    As for the ovoid MB handles, they’re somehow most noticable on the (otherwise rather underrated) X204, where they seem to be in utter
    dissonance with the overall styling concept. They were apparently supposed to give the beltline a certain downward ‘dynamic’, but
    in hindsight they were obviously a ‘find what’s on the shelf’
    budget-limitation obstacle, that the designers decided
    to mount in a curved reference line.

    1. That´s quite a turn up for the trousers. I think previous Corsa´s were more Opel than the new one which is big. It is however vastly preferable to the over-styled Peugeot. That car looks as if they creased the metal to make it look like a drawing of a car. Of the previous crop of Corsas it´s the D that looks most satisfying. The three door´s a charmer.

    1. That´s not the saddest car-related headline I could imagine. It is significant though. My taste in Corsas is not vindicated by sales figures. The one I like the most is the Corsa C. They sold in in very enjoyable colours and they are now getting a vague turn-of-the-century nostaliac character. It´s a car that makes me think of cheery Germany and shopping baskets with Vitam-R and “vollmilch”.

  11. Say it quietly, as we’re not supposed to talk of such things, but the Corsa benefited from two of finest small diesels made in the days when such things were popular and profitable:

    Both straight outta Silesia:

    In the Tychy corner, the Isuzu Circle L – widely used, indestructible, a sort of Perkins 4.108 for its time.

    Representing Bielsko-Biala, the 1248cc Fiat Multi-Jet. Its uses were legion. An absolute giant-killer, and said to be far more dependable than the bigger Pratola Serra Fiat-GM diesels.

    Not the most refined or powerful in their class, but the present downsized forced-induction petrol engines are a poorer substitute than specification numbers would suggest.

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