Electric welcome for

newest Vauxhall

Vauxhall Corsa, front static
Vauxhall Corsa, side static
Vauxhall Corsa, front action 1
Vauxhall Corsa, front action 2
Vauxhall Corsa, front action 3
Vauxhall Corsa, side action
Vauxhall Corsa, rear action
Vauxhall Corsa, boot 2
Vauxhall Corsa, rear seats
Vauxhall Corsa, dash detail
Vauxhall Corsa, dashboard
Vauxhall Corsa, boot 1

YOU might be surprised to view the glitzy television advert for the new Corsa, replacement for the company's best selling car and vital to the continuing upward trajectory of the griffin badge.

Why surprised, I hear you ask? Well, to go by the car you watch strutting its stuff on screen, the poor old petrol engine is about to follow the diesel into the history books. The only car Vauxhall wants to show us now is powered by pure electricity.

This battery toting hatch wasn't even ready to be driven when the Corsa went under the motoring journalists' microscope, but is expected early in the new year.

When it will join siblings powered by more polluting powerplants, namely petrol and diesel engines.

Both fuel station regulars boast engines tweaked to meet ever stiffer emissions rules but will never, of course, show the zero tailpipe nasties that makes an electrically powered car so alluring to more and more car buyers.

Downside of this current thinking will inevitably be a price - from £27,165 - some way above other versions, even with the government's generous £3,500 grant included. It will manage an official 205 miles to flat battery state and Vauxhall insiders hint, be the quickest accelerating Corsa we're likely to see.

Whichever model you pick (in a range that starts at £15,550 and peaks at a non-electric £25,990) it will look smartly angular in the new chiselled way that seems catwalk catmint at the moment in a shape that is lower than before, a little longer and - three cheers - narrower than the outgoing Corsa, if by a mere millimetre.

It is a also lighter than before, partly thanks to an aluminium bonnet and the freshly honed shape cleaves the air more cleanly, both attributes that ought to promise better fuel economy and a longer battery range from the electric Corsa.

Underneath this newcomer sits a new floorpan and suspension - engines too - shared with the equally new Peugeot 208, although Vauxhall suggests subtle tuning is aimed at a sporty feel while the French arm of the common company concentrates on comfort, in a supposedly Gallic tradition.

Nothing shared, though, on the outside or inside, where there's been an obvious attempt to lift the feel and add a touch of class, largely achieved as long as you like lots of black in different textures.

Instruments are clear and some controls, notably to change the cabin temperature, retain good old physical knobs and have not migrated (in the Peugeot way) to a touchscreen that relies on a well aimed finger.

Standard kit includes alloy wheels, cruise control, LED headlights and a colour touchscreen. Move the price table and goodies can include parking sensors, sat nav, heated front seats, climate control, adaptive cruise control and leather trim.

Vauxhall has realised buyers do not want a blizzard of choices and offer the new Corsa in an easily navigated six basic trim levels and with two petrol engines, both 1.2 litres and three-cylinders with 75 or 100 (turbocharged) horsepower and a 1.5 litre three-cylinder diesel (the fuel back in a Corsa after a two year sabbatical) with 102 horses and destined to take a single digit percentage of sales, to some of the quarter of company car Astra users who will see a tax advantage with the smelly fuel.

Oh, and then there's the electric one too. More of that next year⦠with sales due to start in March.

For the time being we will concentrate on the petrol Corsa with the more powerful petrol engine and the version likely to take the lion's share of sales. First impressions are good, with the muted but nicely sporty thrum you hope for from a three-cylinder engine.

Progress is aided by a six-speed manual gearbox that is crisp enough in action to persuade you enjoy some revs when an interesting stretch of road appears. The sportier looking SXi version has precisely the same suspension as all the others but a bracing strut in the engine bay is aimed at making its steering feel more precise.

All the versions have enough room in the rear for a couple of adults in more than acceptable comfort and a boot big enough for a family shop (309 litres of space with the rear seats in use, 1,118 litres with them folded down).

Trying the more powerful 1.2 litre petrol engine (121mph, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds, 48.7mpg average and 96g/km emissions) in two different cars over different routes produced dash readouts of 46.2 and 60.0mpg. Both are good enough to make the diesel route irrelvant for private buyers, especially considering its £1,210 price premium over petrol versions.

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