March 31, 2006

Horse 520 - Forza Corsa

The ever-lovely Katja makes mention in her blog about catching a glimpse of the Chevy C2, and then falling in love with it. Also spying the Corsa also by Chevrolet and lamenting the fact that they simply do not appear on American roads.
Australian readers will recognise the Chevy C2 as the Holden Barina SB which was sold here between 1993 and 2001, whilst the Corsa as the Holden Barina XC between 2001 and 2005.
For the remainder of this, I'm going to refer to the Corsa under all its nameplates (Holden Barina, Chevrolet C2, Chevrolet Corsa, Vauxhall Corsa, Opel Corsa) as the Corsa because if I've learnt anything over the past 20 years about naming cars, badge engineering is downright confusing.

When the Vauxhall Chevette had grown too big after 10 years, Vauxhall needed a car to aim against Ford's replacement for the Escort, the Fiesta. So they basically entered an agreement which still exists to share development with Opel (also a GM company) for their entire range of cars. Opel already had a 1.4L car in the Corsa, so naturally Vauxhall took that and under the name of the Vauxhall Nova the car like it had in Germany become the choice of boy racers and more recently as the originals are reaching their life's end, becoming the favourite of chavs.
Holden had been using Suzuki's Swift for about 6 years, but when Suzuki faded in a banking crisis, Holden continued their Barina nameplate and threw it onto the Corsa. Since 1983 there have been only 3 models (funnily enough referred to as Corsa 1, Corsa 2 and Corsa 3) and they've pretty well much been a mainstay of GM's lineup as petrol prices and taxes have increased.

I drove a Corsa 3 in England in 2004 because there were no Kas in the hire car lot. So what did I find exactly? Well I found this photo for a start... er, read on ^_^

Like the Astra and the Vectra, the ergonomics are fantastic. Opel learnt something with their Rekord in the late 70s and have remained true to those dimensions ever since. People often critisise GM for producing boring cars, but when you keep in mind how easy they are to drive in traffic when most people are brain dead, this is a virtue not a minus.

Styling wise I always liked the fine treatment that Vauxhall gives their cars. Chevrolet and Holden always get the Opel inserts but Vauxhall always tries to incorporate their little flying V in chrome on the front. The 04 reg Corsa I had even had the incoming 2005 front bumper with the corner chin vents.

Inside the Corsa looks like any other Opel. The Blaupunkt radio is this great grey slab in the centre of the console with the display in orange LCD embedded into the front parcel shelf. This was the first time I'd ever seen digital radio in a car and to be honest, it looked practically identical to a regular AM/FM radio with RDS*. Noticeably the buttons were also boring and grey which if nothing shows German efficiency.
The 3 door Corsa unlike the Fiesta and even the 3 door Golf and Polo has fixed rear windows. On hot days in Australia this can be rather annoying as the people in the back swelter; but the 5 door has wind-down windows.

The Corsa is a fun little car to drive and is equal to the Fiesta in every regard. I probably would have bought one if the Ka wasn't so cute, because they've had 23 years to iron out the problems with Corsa and by now you could practically drive them for half a million miles save for cancer (rust) in the bodywork.

The Corsa is certainly worth at least 3 stars and possibly a hurrah.

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