Vauxhall Corsa-e

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Vauxhall Corsa-e, front
Vauxhall Corsa-e, profile
Vauxhall Corsa-e, dynamic
Vauxhall Corsa-e, rear
Vauxhall Corsa-e, charging
Vauxhall Corsa-e, interior
Vauxhall Corsa-e, boot

WITH well over two million sold in the United Kingdom since it first hit our roads in 1993, the Corsa has been Vauxhall's best-selling car for a number of years.

So it was no surprise that the Luton-based brand decided to make the popular supermini its first fully electric model last year - declaring that electrified versions, including hybrids, of its entire range would be available by 2024.

That's quite an ambitious target, but since it became part of Groupe PSA (including Peugeot and Citroen), Vauxhall has been able to call on its French partners' expertise in the area. That group is now known as Stellantis following its recent tie up with Fiat Chrysler which makes it a truly global concern.

In fact, beneath the body of the Corsa-e sits the same technology that you'll find in the Peugeot e-208 - one of a steadily growing number of similarly sized all-electric competitors.

There's little visual difference between the Corsa-e and its traditionally powered relatives, save for its discreet badging, with a low ride height and sleek, coupe-like roofline creating a hunkered down, road-hugging stance.

Three trim levels are available with prices starting from £26,640 and rising to £30,895, with the current Government plug-in car grant of £3,000 applied.

All grades come well-equipped with automatic climate control, push-button start, touchscreen infotainment system, digital driver's display and Apple and Android smartphone connectivity as well as automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.

Power comes from a 100kW electric motor and a 50kWh battery which supports up to 100kW rapid charging, enabling an 80 per cent charge in just 30 minutes at charge stations equipped with fast-charging technology.

Charging at home via a standard 3-pin socket will take the best part of a day, although overnight charging is possible if you buy a wall-mounted charge point.

A range of up to 209 miles is possible on a full charge, though this, of course, depends on driving style and conditions.

Drivers can choose from three driving modes - eco, normal and sport - with the first maximising range, sport enhancing responsiveness and dynamics but with a range loss of around 10 percent and normal striking a balance between the two.

Performance is refreshingly spritely in day-to-day driving conditions, a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds reflecting the responsive and punchy acceleration although, presumably to retain some range integrity, the maximum speed is pegged back to 93mph.

Nevertheless, progress is smooth and effortless at motorway speeds and generally, driving the Corsa-e is straightforward and pretty enjoyable.

Handling is nimble and agile, with the extra weight of the battery packs, stowed beneath the cabin floor, lowering the car's centre of gravity and boosting stability. There is a firm edge to the ride, but never to the extent of being uncomfortable.

An 80-mile round trip on the motorway, having left home with a three-quarter charge, did result in some serious range anxiety during my week behind the wheel but for shorter daily commutes, the school run or the weekly shop the Corsa-e offers genuine low-cost, emission-free motoring when charged at home every night.

The public charging infrastructure remains patchy, though, especially for fast chargers, and there's also considerable rigmarole involved in actually using them. Almost invariably you have to download a smartphone app, create an account, link your payment card, and sometimes add credit, before you even plug-in.

Just to cover myself for a week behind the wheel of this car I found myself downloading five apps to find or use charge points.

It would be much easier, and surely not beyond the wit of the industry, to be able to just rock up at a charger, plug-in your car and either swipe or insert your card to pay for the electricity you use.

Nevertheless, if you're a dedicated electric driver - or looking to make the switch - and can accept the foibles of the charging network as it develops and expands, the Corsa-e is definitely well worth a look.

£30,895 (after £3,000 plug-in car grant)

136ps, 100kw electric motor driving front wheels via automatic electric drive with fixed gear ratio

93mph

8.1 seconds

209 miles

25

0g/km

1%

8yrs/100,000 miles

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