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Canny wee compact – 2023 Opel Corsa SRi ICE review

Not only does canny mean smart and shrewdness but from where I’m from it means pleasant and nice too – or in other words, the new Opel Corsa. For not only has this 6th generation been crammed full of smart tech and clever driving aids, but it’s also as cute as a bright new button.

Late last year Opel launched in NZ and laid out the gauntlet of detoxifying the motoring landscape and that’s not just in terms of pollution but in visage as well, and that includes the small/compact car category.

The Corsa was first launched forty years ago and as I pointed out, has already got five previous generations under its belt. Obviously, the nameplate has evolved over the years and this new, 6th generation has it all, and then some – a big statement for a model that already has a cabinet full of award-winning trophies. 

Let’s begin with the powertrain. For those that are out to embrace the new ‘no-emissions’ world, the Corsa comes with an all-electric heart option, namely the Corsa-e, however, what powers this ‘regular’ (or ICE) Corsa is a glorious, tried and tested 1.2L, 3 cylinder Puretech engine that produces 96kW and 230Nm. Admittedly these figures are not earth shattering in themselves, but when you consider that they are moving a vehicle that weighs about the same as my lunch (1.158 tonnes), it all starts to make sense.

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

0-100km/h comes in at 8.7 seconds and top speed is 208km/h but more importantly, (certainly for the brand position and your wallet)  is its 5.2L/100km fuel efficiency and 120g/km of CO2. So nippy, frugal and fresh comes to mind.

Design wise, the Corsa incorporates a lot into its 4m long and 1.43m tall frame, including intellilux (matrix) LED headlights which is a first for the category we believe (or at least very rare), a sleek and aerodynamic nose, strong character lines along its profile, a contrast black roof, sharp 17-inch alloys and a tail end that offers LED lights and a Blitz badge that hides the access button to the 309L of luggage space inside – keeping your hands clean along the way.

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

Opel have been creative with the interior space too, with a cabin that’s loaded with extras and yet still gives you room to breathe. For instance, the 8-speed box is controlled by a small stub of a gear stick, the handbrake is electric and the screens, infotainment and instrumentation are both digital. 

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

There’s a sporty flair to the cabin, evidently leaning on the brand’s SR (sports rally) ethos, with a bright red stripe across the dash and contrast red on the sports seats that are heated for those cold NZ winter (or Summer this year) days. The front seat in particular are supportive and out to keep you upright when cornering, while the rear is wide enough for two (three at a squeeze) but does require compromise with those in the front when it comes to legroom – it is a compact after all. A point of note here, access to the rear seats is a bit cramped due to door opening and an intrusive frame, but once in, things are ok. 

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ
2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

The latest Opel brand theme is Pure and this is something that the Corsa has taken to heart, for aside from the purity of the engine, the 7-inch infotainment screen comes with Opel’s Pureconnect system plus a 180-degree reversing camera views and a 6-speaker audio system that’s actually alright. And added to this is the brand’s PureSense safety suite that with the likes of driver attention and blind spot monitoring, is out to keep you and your passengers safe – no adaptive cruise though, this is currently only the corsa-e.

Taking to the Auckland roads in the Corsa is a breeze, it’s a taut ride that’s as comfortable in the city as it is out on the open road, with the latter embracing the 8th gear and 1500rpm at 100km/h – not bad for a 1.2L.

The Corsa has three driving modes to play with, Eco reduces accelerator input making the supermini less responsive (but saving your fuel), Sport allowing you to explore the upper rev range of the powertrain and therefore letting the 3-cylinder not sing out, and Normal, a happy medium between the other two modes.

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

Having previously driven the Corsa-e, the Corsa SRi feels lighter on the road and being ICE powered, seems to offer more traditional NVH (noise vibration harshness), but in saying that, I felt that the road noise was less (probably because there is more/some engine noise) and the braking felt stronger, my guess in less weight and more ‘familiarity’ for me.

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

My family dynamic and regular vehicle demands meant that this compact supermini slotted in just fine. The boot space was more than adequate for a weekly grocery shop and (although it was a school holiday) school runs would be simple. But then there’s those times that you want to drive ‘just for the fun of it’ and that’s where the Corsa seems to excel. It’s not super fast, but the engine note combined with its front-wheel drive road poise allows you plenty of smiles while remaining well away from the national speed limit.

2023 Opel Corsa SRi review NZ

Priced at time of writing at $36,990 and thanks to its low emission comes with a $2,438.79 rebate, the Opel Corsa offers canny new car value, and with 5-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year roadside assistance, it comes with great peace of mind too.

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