By Jonathan Crouch
The fourth generation version of Vauxhall's Corsa borrowed much from its predecessor but still manages to mark a decent step forward for Vauxhall in the supermini segment. If you prioritise value, it's a decent used buy. Here we look at the 2014-2018-era versions of this MK4 model.
By 2014, the Corsa supermini was no longer Vauxhall's smallest model, but it was still the brand's biggest seller. Though this fourth generation Corsa looked much the same as a MK3 model whose history went back to 2006, it was - as advertised - fundamentally different, changed in all the areas that really mattered, with the underpinnings, the engine and the technology all new. There was a much smarter cabin too and buyers were promised a far better driving experience than any small Vauxhall had previously offered.
An all-new three cylinder turbocharged 1.0-litre ECOTEC petrol powerplant was the headline engine, but there were also 1.2 and 1.4-litre units, plus a 1.3-litre diesel. In 2015, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol VXR hot hatch model was added to the range. In the early Summer of 2018, the line-up was slimmed down to the 1.4-litre petrol engine and the VXR was deleted in favour of a less manic 1.4 150PS GSI variant. It's the earlier, wider 2014-2017-era range we look at here though.
What You Get
This MK4 Corsa's design is a mix of old and new. The 'old' is easily appreciated, for you'll immediately recognise this as a Corsa, given that the windows and the A, B and C pillars that surround them on this fourth generation model are pretty much identical to those of the old third generation version. There's much that was 'new' for this 2014-era design though. Every body panel is different from the previous MK3 car, most of the underpinnings were changed and there was a re-designed crash structure at the front.
At the wheel, everything's of better quality than before, with soft-touch materials dominating the dash and decor elements dressed in rich satin chrome. Many of the major functions are grouped onto the 7-inch Intellilink infotainment colour touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dash and is smartly mounted in a high-gloss surround.
In the back, this Corsa is much as it always was, remaining one of the more spacious superminis you can buy with plenty of room for two fully-grown adults - or three children - in the five-door model. Inevitably the three door body shape is a little more claustrophobic. Either way though, there's significantly more head and legroom than you'd get in a comparable Ford Fiesta.
What to Look For
We found plenty of satisfied MK4 Corsa customers, but inevitably, there were some who had issues. One owner had to have a new seat frame because the original one wouldn't go back to its original position. And his 1.0-litre engine needed new timing chain and sprockets and a tensioner at just 12,000 miles, then had to replace them all again at 26,000 miles. He then found the horn had failed and that the windows kept operating on their own..
In another case, a 1.2-litre Corsa needed its brake shoes replacing after just three months and developed a major water leak. This is apparently a known fault and it's worth checking under the carpet on the driver's side where the VIN number is to make sure the area is dry. Otherwise, it's the usual things; insist on a fully stamped-up service history. Check the alloys carefully for parking scrapes. And examine the interior plastics for signs of general child abuse.
(approx based on a 2015 Corsa 1.4 75bhp - Ex Vat) An air filter costs around £9-£10. Front brake discs cost in the £30 to £90 bracket. Rear brake discs cost in the £40 to £72 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £25 to £60 bracket for a set. A set of rear pads is around £60. Wiper blades can cost as little as £10. A radiator can be had for around £100. An oil filter costs in the £5 to £6 bracket.
On the Road
There used to be quite a significant gap between a Vauxhall Corsa and its arch-rival Ford's Fiesta in terms of driving dynamics. There isn't with this MK4 model. Yes, this Corsa still can't surpass a Fiesta from this era for ultimate handling response but it can run the Ford close thanks to a whole series of development changes made to this design, not least a stiffer redesigned chassis and much greater torsional rigidity. Other reasons behind this improvement lie with a completely revised suspension set-up. There's also much better body control - and a significant improvement in ride quality.
At launch in 2014, the only completely fresh powerplant this car could offer was the one on which the majority of the launch budget was spent, the three cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged ECOTEC petrol unit. It comes in either 90 or 115PS guises. From launch, you could have a 1.2i petrol powerplant too, but this was later replaced by a normally aspirated 1.4-litre unit, available in 75 or 90PS outputs. Vauxhall also offered this 1.4 in turbo form, developing either 100 or 150PS. Between 2014 and early 2018, there was a 1.3-litre CDTi diesel with either 75 or 95PS outputs. And between 2015 and 2017, the brand offered a VXR hot hatch model with a 1.6-litre petrol turbo 200PS unit.
Ultimately, what we're looking at here is a Corsa that can. It can be fun to drive. It can deliver a big car feel. And it can stack up well on the balance sheet. It's a small Vauxhall for which no apologies need to be made. It's not perfect of course. It doesn't lead its supermini class in the 2014-2018 era in terms of either space, efficiency or driving dynamics. And other rivals offer more efficient engines.
The key though, is that this Vauxhall is there, or thereabouts, in the key areas that will interest potential buyers. Add to that the wide model line-up and the likely deals on offer and you've a supermini that more than ever, needs to remain high on any family's used supermini shopping list.