The tiny petrol engines lack the muscle for motorway driving but the diesel has a little more oomph
Swish and spacious, but opt for the top trims if you want a driving position that fits you perfectly
Stability control costs extra but you get a multitude of cunning crash-prevention gadgets
Vauxhall has kept things simple under the bonnet, which should keep garage bills to a minimum
Plenty of space for a family of four, but you'll need the five-door if your brood's a big one
Entry-level models are a bit basic but buy a Club and you get an MP3-compatible stereo
Pick the right model and the Vauxhall Corsa is good, if not exciting, to drive. All versions are restfully quiet on the move, and the standard suspension strikes a good balance between comfort and control. Don't opt for an SXi model, though, because it has stiffer, sportier suspension that ruins the Corsa's comfortable ride. There's a vast array of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, all of which have their pros and cons. Overall, we reckon most buyers will be best off with the 1.4 petrol. It's strong enough to haul the car along with decent purpose, but keeps purchase prices and running costs reasonable. The three-door version of the 1.3 CDTi 95 is the lowest-emitting diesel Vauxhall ever made, with just 88g/km of CO2, which makes it road-tax-free, and an impressive claimed fuel economy of 85.6mpg. It's a noisy engine, though, and no cheaper than the eco-versions of the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio, which are almost as efficient and better to drive.
The Corsa feels surprisingly spacious inside, but three-door models only seat four people, so for maximum practicality we'd go for the five-door model. You can liven things up inside by personalising your car with brightly coloured seat and door trims.
Not all models in the range have the full range of seat and steering adjustment, and the view forwards is not improved by the chunky windscreen pillars. The boot is average-sized for a supermini but models with the dual-floor luggage compartment offer useful extra storage below the boot floor.
Entry-level models have a CD player and remote central locking fitted, but Exclusiv trim adds useful driver's seat adjustment, MP3 compatibility and a more flexible boot arrangement. Keen cyclists will appreciate the option of an integrated bike rack.
Vauxhall doesn't have the best reliability record, and owners gave the Corsa a below average rating for reliability in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey. However, there's the reassurance of a 100,000-mile, unlimited-time warranty to help you sleep at night.
The most basic models have only two airbags fitted, but the rest have six, and the car earned the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Stability control costs a hefty £465 on all models, though. It's easy to deactivate the front passenger airbag if you're fitting a child seat, but Isofix child seat mountings cost extra.
The Vauxhall Corsa is big enough to serve as a family car. It's cheerfully cheap to buy and insure, but resale values aren't great. The 1.3 diesel Ecoflex models with stop-start technology offer up to 70mpg which is impressive, but they cost more to buy than our pick, the 1.4-litre petrol.