Product Type: Vauxhall cars
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Now is the time to say goodbye... Hello
Vauxhall Corsa SXi 1.4i
Member Name: grahamt
Vauxhall Corsa SXi 1.4i
Advantages: Economical to run; fun to drive
Disadvantages: Lamentable cabin storage space
Admittedly our relationship didn't get off to a good start: she let me down badly in France and we ended up returning home separately. I might have called it a day there and then and, true, we did undergo an enforced trial separation but, after a few months I realised I really couldn't do without her. We got back together again and she promised not to let me down ever again.
Not that the relationship hasn't been without cost: she fully deserved the title, High Maintenance. But, for the benefit of looking good in her company and enjoying the buzz she gave me whenever we were together, the cost was worth it. Besides, what else is money for, especially when you can afford it?
But, after six years she was starting to look and act her age. Also, my personal financial circumstances meant that I needed to look after my wallet with a bit more care. I started hankering after something younger, prettier, less addicted to bling; something that would look after me in my old age and not go off in a huff when my eye wandered.
Yes, I know what your going to say: how very shallow of me; how typical of the male of the species; clearly suffering the male menopause; mid-life (I should be so lucky!) crisis. But, I had made up my mind: she had to go. The problem was, how to break it to her gently. In the end there was no alternative: I sat down with her and told her that it was best for both of us. Oh, there were tears, mostly mine, and not a few moments of soul-searching and doubt, but we both knew it was for the best.
So, finally, after nearly six, mostly very happy years, I said goodbye to my flame-red MG ZT 1.8 Turbo.
I confess I had already been playing around and one particular little honey had caught my eye. She was exactly what I needed: relatively cheap to own; exceptionally good looking; comfortable in her company; and not too small.
She was a one-year old, silver, three door hatchback that the then owner said he would let me have at a very reasonable price. She is a Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SXi and I think we are going to be very happy together for many years.
The Corsa looks rather like a slightly smaller version of the Vauxhall Astra Coupe. The family resemblance is quite remarkable and it isn't until you see them side-by-side that it is clear which is which. On the financial front, the attraction of the Corsa is that the Road Tax is just £125 (at the time of writing) whereas the MG was £225.
Clearly the 1.4l non-turbo engine is never going to be anywhere near as powerful as the MG's 1.8 Turbo but then, by the same token, it doesn't drink anywhere near as much fuel either, a very attractive feature in these days of once again rising petrol prices. So far my journeys have been all local and, even with all of the stop/start driving I'm getting around 35mpg whereas the MG would struggle to get any higher than 27mpg.
The performance, though, is more than adequate. True, you have to use the higher revs on the Corsa and, once the engine is up over 4,000rpm, the performance could be happily described as lively and revving freely right up to the limiter at 6,500.
The SXi model is the sportier version. It comes with attractive alloy wheels, shod with 195x55 R16 tyres. There is a spare tyre, fortunately: the MG only had an instant pump-up repair canister. The spare is only one of the emergency types though, so speed must be kept down when in use.
Only the front brakes are disk: the rear are drum brakes. However, braking is good and predictable, even when stopping more urgently than normal. Handling in general is good with precise steering, even when cornering under speed. The suspension is firmer than average but very much on a par with my MG, so I have got used to a ride comfort that others, used to softer suspension, might consider somewhat jarring. The advantage is that there is very little body roll on cornering.
There are two pairs of main lights for dipped and for main-beam, which results in good visibility at night. They are standard halogens as opposed to the zenon dipped beams that I had on the MG. The wing mirror on the driver's side is a bit disappointing: the outer edge is designed to give a wider view than the rest of the surface but in practice there is little improvement in visibility. I have added Paddy Hopkirk stick-on blind spot mirrors, which give a far better view.
The sports designation is also apparent in the front seats. These are typical of the supporting designs that include side wings and raised side edges on the seat area, that inhibit sideways body movement in corners. The seat is adjustable for tilt and height as well as seat back rake. The backwards/forwards movement is perfectly adequate even for my long legs and there is even just about enough leg room behind the driver's seat when it is adjusted to my perfect driving position. The only feature that is missing is an adjustable lumbar support but so far that hasn't posed a problem. The steering wheel is, as usual, adjustable for reach and height.
The boot is inevitably small but the parcel tray can be removed and the rear seats folded down. When this is done then there is more than enough space to fit in everything I want to take to the tip (my usual journey these days). For anything larger I will have to invest in a set of roof rails; the ones I already have will not fit, being designed for a 4 door saloon.
In the cabin the storage story is somewhat disappointing. The so called glove compartment is a joke: a pair of gloves is literally just about all you would get in it. The doors panels have trays in which a map book, so long as it is small, might fit. There is a small recess below the console where a few coins could be kept for parking meters, and a cup recess behind the handbrake for the rear seat passengers. Other than that, that's about it!
The SXi model has air-conditioning and the controls for this are at the bottom of the console. The air-conditioning is pretty efficient and, even in the recent heat-wave I've had no problems keeping cool.
Above this are the controls for the entertainment system. The radio enables up to 9 station pre-selects to be programmed in. The CD player also supports MP3 disks so you can carry quite a collection of music with you. There is also a mini-jack for attaching an iPod or other MP3 player. There are also controls for the music system on the steering wheel.
The main dials behind the steering wheel are quite limited. In keeping with it's sporty nature, there is a speedometer with a digital mileometer, and a rev counter. Other than these though, there is only a fuel gauge. There is no coolant temperature gauge so it would seem that Vauxhall are confident that there will be no problems there, unlike with the MG!
All round visibility is quite good: there are no obvious blind spots caused by badly situated body panels. A novel feature is the small window panel set into the door ahead of the mirrors. As usual reversing is hard to judge but I have had a reversing warning system retro-fitted and this works well. I don't anticipate reversing into anyone or anything now (don't ask!).
The MG was by far and away the best car I have ever driven. It was almost though not quite perfect. The Corsa has a lot to live up to and, of course, it will take some time to adjust to a car that is so different. Initial opinion of the Corsa is that, whilst far from perfect, it will suit me just fine, at least for the foreseeable future, for the sort of use to which I put it. It will be interesting to see how it handles long journeys but then I don't have any of those planned right now. If there is something to report in this area then I will return and update the review.
Summary: A great, economical little runaround at a reasonable price