Vauxhall Corsa Electric review
Vauxhall’s electric supermini offers brisk performance and over 200 miles of range, but some rivals are better value for money
3.5 out of 5
- Brisk performance
- Good range and recharging
- Discrete looks
- Limited rear cabin space
- Uninvolving drive
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The Corsa Electric feels agile and easy to drive, but only sport mode unleashes the electric motor’s full 134bhp output
The Corsa Electric uses a single electric motor to drive the front wheels which produces up to 134bhp and 260Nm of torque. However, the power output varies depending on which drive mode you’re in. The car’s default Normal mode gives you 108bhp on tap; only when you toggle the selector switch into Sport do you get the car’s full 134bhp. Conversely, switch to Eco and you’re restricted to 81bhp and have a much softer response to throttle pedal inputs, while each setting naturally varies the range you can expect.
Despite the heavy battery pack, performance is still more than swift enough for a supermini. The near-instant torque from the electric motor makes the 0-30mph dash very swift and fairly fun, something that defines the Corsa Electric’s driving experience. It’s a great car to drive around town, with fast, light and precise steering helping to boost agility in built-up areas and through roundabouts, where this car will be used most. It’s not too bad on a twisty country road either.
The ride is smooth enough, and for the most part the car feels comfortable and composed, even if the Corsa’s chassis does start to feel a little lumpy over particularly poor road surfaces. On the motorway, the Corsa Electric cruises with plenty of refinement.
The Corsa Electric’s two-stage regenerative braking system works well, with the ‘B’ setting providing a decent amount of stopping power when you lift off the throttle. It’s more intuitive than it sounds, and with enough anticipation it can offer near-one-pedal driving.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The Corsa Electric will do 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds according to Vauxhall. If you’re wondering, that’s more than a second faster than even the quickest petrol Corsa. Like lots of small electric cars, the Corsa Electric’s instant torque makes it feel pretty peppy, especially compared to any petrol or diesel powered supermini.
Performance starts to tail off once you pass 70mph or so, but you’ll find that’s the case in the majority of the electric Corsa’s rivals. A 93mph top speed won’t trouble any hot hatches or sports cars but there’s plenty of acceleration at the top end when you need to overtake on the motorway.
Range, charging and running costs
Electric drivetrain means low running costs whether in terms of efficiency or tax. Quick rapid charging capabilities are also a plus
This is where you’d hope the Corsa Electric scores well, and in many respects it does. The chunky 50kWh battery under the floor isn’t bad in a car of this size and packs enough juice for an official range of 222 miles – about the same as an entry-level MG4 offers.
It’s worth noting that an updated version of the Peugeot e-208 has been unveiled, featuring a slightly larger 51kWh usable battery and other mechanical upgrades which has boosted the electric supermini’s official WLTP range up to 248 miles. We expect the Corsa Electric to receive the same upgrades in due course.
As far as rapid charging goes, the Corsa Electric’s 100kW maximum charging speed is somewhere around the middle of the pack – certainly better than the 50kW the MINI Electric maxes out at, but not quite as fast as the 150kW you can reach in the MG4. Regardless, a 10-80% top-up from a suitably fast rapid charger will take 28 minutes, while a standard 7.4kW home wallbox will take just under eight hours to fully replenish the 50kWh battery.
With a starting price of around £32,000 at the time of writing, the Corsa Electric is no longer one of the UK’s cheapest electric cars. It’s also about £14k more expensive than the base petrol Corsa. Thankfully, the electric version’s exemption from road tax (VED) until 2025 and 2% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax rate mean running one will be significantly cheaper.
The Corsa Electric’s insurance ratings of group 24 and 25 don’t seem that high compared to its closest rivals – the Peugeot e-208 sits in groups 26 to 28, while the MG4 which lands in groups 27 to 29 – though it’ll cost you more to cover an electric Corsa than it would one of the equivalent petrol models. For example, a top-spec, petrol-powered Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate sits in insurance group 19.
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Peugeot e-208 sister car has a more innovative cabin design and feels higher quality, but the Corsa is straightforward and has good levels of tech
Both inside and out the latest Corsa, and by extension the Corsa Electric, is a huge improvement over the previous generation model. Longer, wider and lower than before, it cuts a sportier profile on the road and the Corsa Electric has a handsome and grown-up appearance. Visually there’s almost nothing at all to differentiate the electric version from its combustion counterparts – ideal for those not keen on standing out too much.
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It’s the same inside, with a straightforward layout that gives you little clue as to the car’s powertrain – even the gear lever and drive mode selector are the same as those used in automatic versions of the regular Corsa. The only giveaway is the conventional dials in other Corsas are replaced by a seven-inch digital driver’s display. Some will like how straightforward and simple the cabin is, but in our opinion it’s a shame there’s not at least a little more flair – something the Peugeot e-208, which the Corsa Electric shares its platform with, has in spades.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
As you’d hope from a forward-looking vehicle, the Corsa Electric comes with plenty of tech, particularly if you go for the top-spec Ultimate trim. This version includes a 10-inch touchscreen display in the centre of the dash (pictured above), rather than the seven-inch unit used by the other trim levels. It’s not worth the upgrade for this alone, but if you factor in some of the other luxuries the top-spec cars come with, it might make the jump easier to justify. The infotainment system itself is packed with features, but it can feel a bit slow to respond at times.
As you’d expect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard on every Corsa Electric, as is sat-nav and Vauxhall Connect, a button in the cabin to put you in touch with a trained advisor in case of a breakdown or emergency.
You also download an app for your smartphone that allows you to control charging times, as well as monitor range and remotely pre-condition the battery and cabin temperature.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
While it’s not the most spacious car in its class, being larger than its predecessor makes the sixth-generation Corsa more pleasant for passengers to travel in. What’s more, the latest Vauxhall Corsa was designed to be offered with an electric variant from the outset, so there’s no penalty in terms of space, whether in the cabin or in the boot, compared to the petrol-powered model.
Comfort levels are good too, with plenty of seat and wheel adjustment and well-shaped seats. The cabin design might not look as modern as the e-208’s but there are places to stash everyday items like phones and keys, and the door bins are big enough for bottles.
The Corsa Electric is exactly the same size as the regular combustion-powered Corsa, which means it’s a more generously-sized car than the previous generation of the model. It’s 4,060mm long, 1,765mm wide and 1,433mm tall – and only that last figure is smaller than before, which helps give the Corsa Electric its sportier stance. The wheelbase has also grown by 28mm to 2,538mm, to the benefit of interior space.
For some comparison, that makes the Corsa Electric a longer, wider and lower car than the Honda e, but the two cars have an almost identical wheelbase. A Renault ZOE meanwhile is longer at 4,084mm, once again narrower and taller, but has a 50mm longer wheelbase than the Corsa Electric.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Cabin space is usefully unchanged from the regular Corsa despite the need to stash batteries within the same footprint. That’s doubly useful as the Corsa is already a spacious supermini, particularly in the front row, though taller rear seat passengers might find themselves a little more cramped.
The Corsa Electric doesn’t have any underfloor storage like the petrol Corsa, reducing its total boot capacity from 309 to 267 litres and leaving you without anywhere to keep your charging cables out of the way. Nevertheless, the Corsa Electric still trumps many other small electric cars for luggage capacity, but the cheaper and larger MG4 has nearly 80 litres of additional boot space on the Vauxhall.
Fold the rear seats down and you’re left with 1,076 litres of space to play with, just slightly less than the 1,118 litres in the regular Corsa.
Reliability and safety
While the Corsa Electric itself didn’t feature in the most recent Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the Vauxhall Corsa finished 42nd on the list of 75 best cars to own – five places behind its sister car, the Peugeot 208.
Meanwhile Vauxhall as a brand came 19th out of 29 in the best car manufacturers rankings – not a stellar performance, but the British brand managed to finish ahead of Skoda, MG and Fiat. Vauxhall owners praised their cars’ running costs – a key selling point for the Corsa Electric – and rated connectivity highly, too, however they said their cars could be more practical.
On the safety front, the Corsa's four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating (out of a maximum of five) shouldn't be too much cause for concern. The tests have become ever-more stringent in recent years and are now much tougher to score highly in than before, plus there are plenty of standard safety features on-board, from driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, to preventative systems like automatic emergency braking, brake assist, forward collision alert and speed sign recognition.
Like every new Vauxhall, the Corsa Electric gets a fairly standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty, plus an eight-year or 100,000-mile battery warranty so should the battery’s usable capacity drop below 70% during that time, Vauxhall will replace it for free.
Every Corsa Electric needs an initial service after one year or 8,000 miles, whichever comes soonest. Following this, there's a first scheduled service two years or 16,000 miles from the date of first registration, after which the Corsa’s service intervals shift to every two years or 16,000 miles. That puts electric owners at a distinct advantage, as both the petrol and diesel versions of the Corsa require maintenance every 12 months, which inevitably raises your running costs – even with a service plan.
For an alternative review of the Vauxhall Corsa Electric, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com…
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You should achieve a reasonably decent figure come resale time, with our latest data indicating that the Corsa Electric will retain around 47-49% of its value after three years and 36,000 miles of ownership.
Interior, design and technology
Meanwhile the Honda e, MINI Electric and Fiat 500 bring funky, retro-inspired looks and some slick infotainment to proceedings, though being smaller city cars none of them can quite match the Corsa Electric’s range or practicality. It’s a similar story with the distinctive looking Ora Funky Cat hatchback, which might have a similar price tag to the Corsa, but we found it lacking in sophistication and very limited on boot space.
The MG4 EV is the Corsa Electric’s newest and strongest rival at this point, as it’s cheaper, yet more spacious and practical, plus it can go even further on a single charge. Whether you like or loathe the looks of the MG4 is up to you, but in terms of value-for-money, it’s got the Vauxhall licked.
There are plenty more rivals waiting in the wings, too, including the reborn Renault 5 landing in 2024 and Volkswagen’s budget-friendly electric supermini due by 2025, previewed by the ID.2all concept. Both are expected to be priced from close to £20,000.
There’s just the one battery size offered in the Corsa Electric, but customers can pick from three trim levels: GS, Anniversary Edition and Ultimate. Oddly, the limited-run Anniversary Edition car is the cheapest of the bunch, but nonetheless every model gets LED lights, 17-inch wheels, climate control and a seven-inch screen with sat-nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Top-of-the-range cars are fitted with a larger 10-inch central touchscreen, Matrix LED headlights and a panoramic rear-view camera, among other kit.