First of all I would just like to say that I am a girly girl and don't know much about cars other than how to drive one and what colour they are, so if you're looking for a review that is going to be full of top gear jargen discussing the effectiveness of suspension, four wheel drive and horse power (whatever all that is) , you are in the wrong place. This is just a girls general opinion of her car.
So, if you're still willing to read my review........
During my final year at university my beloved Nissan Micra decided that it had had enough of the frequent long drives from my family home to uni and back again and died. I was very upset. I loved my micra, many people had told me that it was an "old persons car" but I didn't care, I loved it! As I previously mentioned it was my final year at uni, so as you can image I was pretty poor but I needed a car quick. Thankfully I happened to have a friend that worked in a car dealership that managed to get me a decent enough part exchange price for my car considering it barely evan ran and said she could do me a deal on one of the cars on the forecourt. Obviously, with my lack of funds I chose the cheapest car I could find which happened to be a 2004 Vauxhall Corsa Life in sea breeze blue. I took it for a test drive and as I was in such a rush to get back on the road I decided it would do and went ahead with the purchase without asking any questions other than "how do I open the boot?". You're probably thinking that it was very silly of me to buy something so expensive in such haste, well you would be right. It is now a decision that I semi-regret. I signed all the necessary paperwork and attempted to drive home in my poor micra to wait for the car to be ready to be collected in two days time, which happened to be when I had to go back to uni. So I caught the dreaded train back to uni and my new car was waiting for me when I got home (thanks to my dad).
The first thing I noticed about the corsa in comparison to my micra was that it seemed a lot smaller and lower to the ground, and to begin with I felt very cramped when driving (not something that is easy to achieve given that I am only a mere 5ft 2" in height). However, this is something that I have now adjusted to and now feel comfortable driving my car. In my opinion the Corsa also felt 'cheap' compared to the Micra with regards to it's interior design. My Micra had lovely, chunky windscreen wiper/head light/indicator light handles (I'm afraid I don't know the proper name for them) on either side of the steering wheel and in comparison the ones in the corsa felt like feeble bits of plastic (of course it isn't made of feeble bits of plastic, I'm sure it's all much more complex than that but thats just how it felt to me).
One thing I was very impressed with was the fact that the Corsa displays the current temperature. Now I'm not 100% sure if it is the inside or outside temperature that it refers to but either way I thought it was a nifty feature as I hadn't had a car that had done that before and when it reaches 3 degrees or below a little snow flake appears to ward you about ice on the road (I am aware that a lot of the newer cars have this feature and many many more). The corsa will also display the time and date and what radio station or CD you are listening to. If you look down from the display screen which is in the centre of the dashboard you will see the CD/radio device. It is fairly self explanitary how to use is as there are two big buttons in the middle; one reading 'tuner' and the other reading 'CD' so all you need to do is decide what you want to listen to and then either insert a CD or adjust the radio station using the arrow buttons that are loated with the two previously mentiond big buttons or choose a pre-selected and saved radion station using the numbered buttons slightly to the right of the CD player. You can also change track, radio station and adjust the volume using buttons on the steering wheel (another luxury I hadn't experienced in a car of my own before).
My car does not have air conditioning but it does have your usual hot/cold air fans with the options of having them blow said air either on to you windscreen, feet or face or a combination of the three (again I'm sure it's much more technical than that and any car fanatic would be able to describe it better). However, in my opinion the lack of air conditioning isn't a disadvantage to the car as I like to have the windows open when it's nice and warm (the windows are electric by the way - always a bonus when compared to the old style 'keep fit' windows that required a small workout to wind down).
Cosmetically, the car is quite nice really. My interior is black with a slight grey-ish pattern on the seats. There is a nice little compartment below where the CD player and heating adjustment buttons are that is really usful for storing bits of rubbish or spare change or lipgloss etc and fairly spacious door compartments too, also good for storing whatever rubbish you happen to have in your hand while entering/driving your car that you need to put somewhere - mine are generally filled with sweetie wrappers and petrol receipts.
One thing I noticed instantly about the car was the noise. My Micra was such a lovely quiet car that if you were sat idle in it you had to give the accelorator a quick tap just to check the engine was still running - a complete contrast to the corsa. I found the corsa to be very very loud. At first I thought it was just because I was used to such a quiet car that I noticed it more but as time went on I didn't feel that I became accustomed to the noise like I expected and it continued to irritate me, it sounded more like it had a louder diesel engine than the average petrol engine that it actually had. So I asked a mechanic friend about it one day and he told me that it only had three cylinders instead of four like most cars have (it was made like that, it doesn't have one missing). Now I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what the technical term is for these cylinders or what their purpose is, I simply know that having three of them instead of four is the reason my car is loud and can only assume that that means that my car is from the more budget end of the model, which I can understand seeing as it does only have a 998cc engine.
You can fit a total of five people into my car and I think it is spacious enough to fit three small adults ot two large adults comfortably in the back (especially behind my drivers seat where there is ample leg room thanks to my short stature) and the boot is a fairly decent size too, big enough to fill with bags after a good old shopping spree.
When it is just me in the car, it can be quiet speedy despite it's small engine size, however with a car full of people it does understandably become quite sluggish when attempting to gain speed. It's quick enough for me though as I don't need a fast car, I'm not the type race around the streets fast and furious style. An additional bonus to the small engine size is that it makes it quite a cheap car to run, if I didn't have to travel such a long distance to work I would hardly ever have to put petrol in it., it's very economic.
My corsa does have power steering and if you can block out the noise with some decent music is actually not to bad to drive at all, although I have to say it's not quiet as nice to drive as my micra was. It also has remote central locking but also has a keyhole on the drivers door to enable you to unlock the car manually, presumably should the batteries ever run out in the remote key.
Overall, it's an ok car that I have to admit has grown on me slightly since I bought it a year ago. I wouldn't say it's anything special and since I got it on finance I often wonder if I would have been better off paying £2000 more over a longer period for a newer model with better/more features, but whats done is done and in all fairness I have had no problems with the car. I think it would be really suitable for a first car as it's small enough to park easily and simple enough to use and get to grips with. It is also cheap to tax and insure.
This Corsa Breeze 1.2 is my 3rd car after downgrading from a mini. I find it so uncomfortable to drive. As im not very tall i feel the seats are too low in the car which means im always straining my neck to see the kerbs. One good point about the corsa is the space inside, it is very deceiving. The boot is big and there's loads of leg room in the back. Very economical and the insurance is the cheapest i've ever had. The corsa is very reliable. The 1.2 engine is such a let down, lack of power when accelerating can be a problem. Getting to 50mph is a struggle but will comfortably cruise along at 70 which is great for motorway driving. There is lots of grip when going round corners and the power steering isn't too light or too heavy. Im not too keen on cars feeling lights so this is a great advantage. Although colour doesn't hamper the performance, black is just a nightmare to keep clean.
Now that I am leaving the two boys off at big school in the mornings my ten year old two door Corsa just wasn't working for us. The boys schoolbags are enormous and weigh about the same as a three year old, throw in a large sports bag some days with either a rugby or hockey kit and boots\shoes and add a hockey stick or tennis racquet depending on the season and pulling over to the side of the road and trying to throw them out of a two door car in three seconds flat is impossible.
After No. 2 son who sits in the back tripped over the front seat belt while trying to manoeuvre all his stuff and himself out I gave in and decided enough was enough. Now that I have my shiny new five door car I actually regret waiting so long as I have spent a large proportion of the the last 10 years lifting the drivers seat up and crouching double, wedged somehow into the back of the car with my butt sticking out in the rain trying to strap under fives into their car seats.
I wasn't sure whether to go with a new or reasonably new car but one of my brothers told me about a great deal Vauxhall were offering which was upto a £1000,00 trade in for your old car. No harm in investigating off I popped to the nearest dealer. I had done a little research and decided to go for either an Agila or a Corsa, as they are both cheap to insure, easyish on petrol and fit five.
When I arrived at the dealership I was really attracted to the little Agila, it was so cute, we had a little sit in it and I was very tempted. When we got round the back though and opened the boot it was a disappointment, so tiny it could only have fitted about four tesco bags of food, no way were you getting luggage etc. in there. Not that we use my car if we are going anywhere but you never know.
I then sat in the new Corsa, it felt much bigger than my old Corsa, and the boot would easily fit 10 bags of shopping or a couple of suitcases. On talking to the salesman by the time we took into account the £1000 trade in against the Corsa, only £500 against the Agila and my brothers points from his GM card which he was letting me use which would give me £1000 of a
Corsa but only £500 off the Agila. The larger Corsa actually worked out cheaper than the Agila.
On the test drive the main difference I could feel between the new Corsa and my old Corsa was how much more solid the new Model felt, it also had one of the highest NCap ratings for a smallish car and had driver and passenger airbags so I felt as a family runabout this would be ideal. The insurance group being a 1 meaning cheaper insurance was also a big plus.
I signed my life away and was able to choose my own numberplate from a list which was quite nice. A deposit paid I was told as long as I wanted red I could pick it up the following week. I was happy with red and it took the colour choosing experience out of my hands which would have driven me insane.
Instead of being an enjoyable experience it was actually quite terrifying as the thought of scratching, bumping, crashing this shiny red beautiful little beast was awful. I will put my hands up and admit that I couldn't even bring myself to drive it home from the garage on pick up day and made my husband do it. As soon as my daughter sat in the back of it she proclaimed "this car smells lovely" I had heard people talking of the new car smell but this was the first time I had been lucky enough to experience it and agreed with her.
Once home it was my turn to try driving it and I was quivering in my boots, but I couldn't just leave it sitting in the driveway so in I got and off I went. For the first week it was all quite scary but now a month down the line I feel comfortable, safe and am enjoying my new shiny toy.
When I first sat in the drivers seat it was very easy to higher the seat (I'm only 5'2") and each time you push the lever to raise the seat a little the seat goes forward a little which makes it very easy to find the correct driving position.
The dials, indicators, wiper controls etc. were all pretty much in the same position as they had been in the old Corsa so these were very easy to find. The main difference is in the indicators as a light push turns the indicator on for three or four blinks ideal for switching lanes and then turns off and you need to push hard to keep the indicator on. Panic sets in the first time you push hard to change lanes and then it doesn't switch off because it hasn't felt the turn, but after switching it all directions I managed to get it off.
As the engine is only 1000cc you can't expect this to be a flying machine but I'm not the boy racer type and the car is mainly used for the school run or work. It gives a smooth drive, moves along comfortably at 50mph and as you are getting cheaper insurance than with most other cars, speed isn't much to give up particulary if you are just doing urban driving. If you are going uphill don't even think about trying to overtake.
I have never had electric windows before so it was great driving upto the car park barrier in work, clicking the button to get the window down and inserting my pass to lift it. Unfortunately I parked and turned the engine off before remembering to put the window back up. I touched the up button and was surprised to find that the electric windows still worked without the engine being switched on.
Another nice touch is that the interior lights come on when you unlock the car letting you place your bag etc. and find the ignition with no problems. The interior lights also come on after you remove your keys until you leave the car which is great for getting your bag and anything else together.
The boot as mentioned previously is a really good size and as a family of five we really appreciate this.
There are three 3 point seatbelts in the back and there seems to be plenty of room for the kids legs, depending of course on how far back you push the front seats. Three reasonably built adults would be comfortable in the back, but it would be a bit of a squeeze if one or more was a little on the large size.
There is a radio\CD player pre-installed which can also be operated from controls on the steering wheel which is a lot safer in my mind than bending down to adjust stations. There is an ipod point which allows you to plug in your ipod and play it through the speakers, you need to purchase an adaptor for this.
I have air conditioning for the first time which is going to be great in the summer, the salesman assures me that it is also great in the winter for clearing the windows.
The key is on the remote control keychain and folds into the casing of the remote when not in use. With the remote you can press open once for just the drivers door or twice to unlock all the doors which is a great idea if you are in an iffy area and don't want someone else jumping in the passenger door when you press the button to open the car.
The petrol tank has the lid on a little attached by a plastic lead and a lilttle hook to hang it on when you are filling the tank. Great idea as I remember my dad years ago set the petrol cap on top of the car while filling up and drove off with it still there.
It has Anti-lock braking system (ABS) for extra safety. There is also a warning light and beep if the drivers seat belt hasn't been fastened. The wing mirrors can be adjusted from inside the car and are electric.
The car comes supplied with alloy wheels although I have to admit I really don't know what these are for??
- - Problems - -
There are a couple of problems - the glove compartment is soooo tiny. It barely fits more than a pair of gloves, in the old model I could have easily fitted in a tin of de-icer, my Taz ice scraping mitt and more. There is a little pull out shelf under the passenger seat which you can store stuff in which is a great idea but its not deep enough for a tin of de-icer so my tin is currently rolling about the floor.
I am a little disappointed that even with the seat at full height I still can't see the end of the bonnet but my brother tells me that all new cars have bonnets which slope a little more, to protect pedestrians so I guess I can't complain, it does make parking a little more difficult though when you can't see where the car ends.
The drivers seat seems to work its way back down to its original height within about two weeks of adjusting it up. This is a known problem and Vauxhall are working on a fix for it.
All in all a great little family runaround for under £7,000.00. Not suitable for boy or girl racers or very large families