With its handsome and low/no emissions range, new (to NZ) car brand Opel has boldly set a course to both detoxify and modernise the look of our vehicle landscape. We’re told that four nameplates will soon be brightening up forecourts across the country, but one of their mission heroes available right now is the cute, yet feisty Corsa-e – so we took it for a spin to find out more.
Opel may be a new brand to most NZ road goers, but in fact, the German automaker has been producing cars since 1898 and they were developing bikes and sewing machines before that. What’s more, their multi award-winning compact supermini, Corsa, has been around for over four decades (launched the same year that the first Warehouse store opened in Takapuna, Auckland in actual fact).
Anyway, the Corsa is now in its 6th generation and in gracing our shores with two distinctive powertrains, a 1.2L petrol and an all-electric BEV, we grabbed the latter which came with an -e on the end – Corsa-e.
For those that are keen on a brief history lesson, the Corsa was the successor of the Vauxhall Chevette and has been known to wear a variety of badges in terms of manufacturer and title, Vauxhall, GM, Nova, to name a few, but regardless of its moniker, it’s been popular – claiming ‘best selling car in the world’ in 1998 and grabbing Car or the Year for multiple countries along the way.
The Corsa-e sits at the top of the NZ range, and Opel has thrown everything at it, meaning that although its dimensions are small, it’s got features barely seen in vehicles twice its size.
In terms of styling, the compact 4-door hatch comes with Opel’s blitz logo (probably the most fitting logo for EV’s ever), on the nose and tail, a chrome strip across the grille, ‘IntelliLux’ LED Matrix headlights (a first for the compact segment?), a contrast ‘diamond’ black roof, short overhangs front and rear, 17-inch alloys and ‘hidden’ access to the hatch’s rear that keeps your hands clean too.
The cabin itself is a mixture of sporty and spice, with a surprising amount of room for those riding in the front. There’s a flash of red that runs from the 7-inch instrument cluster to the passenger door, and the fit and finish ranges between soft and hard plastics with chrome accents around regular touchpoints, while the infotainment screen is also 7-inches and offers Apple and Android connectivity.
Light inside the cabin is enhanced by the addition of a huge panoramic glass roof and although the spacious seating upfront comes with a nice amount of bolstering and some sporty stripes, despite the rear seats providing plenty of headroom for its occupants, will require territory negotiation with those in the front to ensure your knees are not rubbing against the seats – there’s 267L of luggage/shopping space for those that need it.
Low to the chassis sits a 50kWh/100kW battery that can be DC (0-80% 30mins fast) or AC (7 hours 7.4kW wall box) charged, and when full, offers upto 383km of range. While under the bonnet sits a 50kWh motor (100kW/260Nm) married to a one speed auto transmission that will get you from 0-100km/h in a shade over 8 seconds.
I picked up my power orange review model with 342km range on the screen and headed north on SH1, admittedly not the best way to use an EV but it did prove to me that the Corsa-e got to 100 with ease and also felt comfortable going quickly on the highway (not just great around town).
Below the infotainment screen is a small e button, that once pushed, displays a variety of EV data on the screen, so you can see how much battery life you have and where the energy is going, schedule your charging times and efficiency, so enough to entertain or inform. And for those that want more ‘brake regeneration’ there’s a little B button by the stubby gear selector that slows/regens when you ease off the accelerator.
It’s worth pointing out that adding to the energy saving, the clever Opel engineers have replaced the AC unit with a heat pump system, it still keeps you hot or cold but doesn’t draw as much energy.
Admittedly it’s not a rocket off the line but it feels mature on the road, I didn’t struggle with the Corsa-e even in the summer downpours, it’s very well-mannered and turns on a dime too. The cabin is uncluttered and quiet with great visibility and having plenty of range up its sleeve, meant that I handed it back with 190km of range left (having travelled 140km – 12km off the originally forecasted 342km). Note to self ‘use the Eco mode more’.
The Corsa-e comes with lane keep assist, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring etc, so not only is it good to drive but it’s safe for you and the family too.
Whatever you want to call it, the Corsa-e is a compact hatch that’s good for the city and good for the environment too. It comes loaded with features (so much you wonder how Opel squeezed them all in), and has a range that’ll ensure you’re not constantly on the look out for a charger.