Vauxhall Corsa Red

Edition - First

Drive

Vauxhall Corsa Red, front action
Vauxhall Corsa Red, side action
Vauxhall Corsa Red, front action 2
Vauxhall Corsa Red, rear action
Vauxhall Corsa Red, dashboard
Vauxhall Corsa Red, rear seats
Vauxhall Corsa Red, front seats
Vauxhall Corsa Red, boot
Vauxhall Corsa Red, alloy wheel

IF imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the feisty little Fiesta S Red should be blushing with pride at the arrival of an equally red number from Vauxhall.

The new £17,125 Corsa Red Edition is obviously aimed at the same sort of buyer (youngish, male, keen driver) who would dearly love to grab the wheel of a faster model but can neither afford the monthly payments - or the insurance.

So Vauxhall helps him out with a rather less potent but considerably cheaper (by precisely £1,000 over the VXR) version that aims to give similar thrills, if watered down a little.

Do it with conviction and, bragging rights apart, you'll have a car that's great fun to drive. Put it on our crowded, potholed roads and (whisper it) the slightly softer suspension and less aggressive throttle response might make it a nicer drive.

The Corsa Red Edition comes with a new turbocharged 1.4 litre engine, whose 150 horsepower propel the car to 129mph and reduce the sprint to 62mph to 8.9 seconds. So, perky enough for most.

Driven with restraint (ha!) you might approach the 49.6mpg the car recorded in the official test but it's very unlikely indeed to get anywhere near that in the hands of a typical owner. That's not what he bought the car for anyway, is it?

At least the 132g/km exhaust emissions mean a reasonable £130 annual tax bill and of more concern is going to be how the car looks and how it feels when he's showing off to his mates. We've all been there.

With chunky 17-inch alloy wheels and body coloured front lower spoiler, side sills, rear roof spoiler and rear lower skirt the Corsa Red Edition looks as little as possible like the shopping trolley Corsa STING that starts the range off at less than ten grand.

Add in a chrome-look tailpipe, black roof and door mirror housings - with still more black on the front grille bar and door pillars and here is a car that looks the biz simply standing still.

Dark tinted rear windows and lowered suspension ratchet up the cool look count, while the interior is given a sporty makeover with huggy front seats and fancy pedals and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

There's air con, electric windows and digital radio on the standard spec list, along with a switch to make the steering lighter, a feature that seems redundant on a car designed for the more brawny end of the market.

There was no need, or desire to select the city mode steering function on my Red Edition drive, where the feel through the wheel (which also usefully houses controls for radio and phone) was better than most cars at the price and fitted with electric assistance.

The gearbox has been fettled to make it more precise in this application (as though lesser versions need a less precise feel?) but felt some way less impressively click-click than I'd hoped for.

No doubting the spread of power, though, thanks to a turbo engine that sounds gruff whatever you ask of it and the car is precise enough on corners to make it fun, if the ride is less than forgiving.

The real question than arises; would you rather have the Fiesta S Red? It's less powerful, but £680 less costly and a lot lighter in the other sort of pounds too, so feels nimbler on its toes.

You will need a test drive of both, which is no hardship, surely.

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