You can now buy a Vauxhall Corsa that’s all-electric – and although it’s built on the same platform as the Peugeot e-208, the Corsa is designed to appeal to Vauxhall buyers.
The Vauxhall Corsa supermini, with a petrol engine, has consistently been one of the top selling cars in the UK for years. A key reason for this is that it is affordable. And why is it affordable? Because it’s a straightforward, simple car. But, shock horror – now there’s an all-electric Corsa. What will Corsa buyers make of this?
We think the new Vauxhall Corsa looks good. It’s fairly simple styling, because that’s what Vauxhall believes its buyers want. And apart from a few badges and a missing exhaust pipe, the Corsa-e looks almost identical to the petrol model.
The interior also has a simple and straightforward feel – again, designed for Vauxhall’s target audience.
The Corsa is a supermini, so the interior and boot space is what you would expect for this class of car, and it’s actually slightly more generous than some rivals.
Underneath the car sits a 50kWh lithium-ion battery, and there’s a 100kW electric motor under the bonnet. In typical Corsa tradition, the car is front-wheel drive.
Platform-sharing is the way to ensure car manufacturing efficiencies, so because Vauxhall is now part of the PSA Group, the Corsa shares the same platform as the Peugeot e-208, e-2008, and DS 3 Crossback e-tense.
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The Vauxhall Corsa-e is easy to drive – easier than the petrol model. You simply press a button to switch it on, select Drive, press the accelerator, and you’re off – enjoying strong, linear acceleration – in virtual silence. There’s no gear changing or messing with a clutch.
The ride quality is comfortable, thanks to suspension that’s on the soft rather than the firm side. It’s the same story with the steering – the steering is light and easy.
Handling is basically good thanks to the heavy battery in the floor of the car giving a low centre of gravity, but the soft suspension means that handling isn’t super-sharp.
The high levels of torque from an electric powertrain can often result in lots of wheelspin from front-wheel drive EVs, especially in the wet, but this is controlled well in the Corsa-e unless you ask too much from the grip of the front tyres.
There are three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport (Normal is fine for most driving). You can increase the level of brake regeneration by choosing B rather than D using the gear selector.
The infomedia system is generally easy to use, helped by shortcut buttons underneath the touchscreen. There are separate heating controls under the screen, which is more user-friendly than having to delve into a screen for the climate controls when driving.
The lane departure warning system is quite intrusive, but helpfully there’s a button next to the gear selector to switch off the system.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e has an electric range of 209 miles (WLTP). During our week-long test, the displayed range estimate varied quite considerably – we assume this was because the car was virtually brand new and it was still trying to calculate range based on different previous driving patterns, eg. on motorways and around town. When fully charged there were range projections between 155 miles and 229 miles. However the average seemed to settle down at 167 miles.
People considering moving from petrol or diesel cars to electric often have concerns about charging, however once you’ve charged an electric car a few times the concerns generally reduce. Most people are likely to charge an EV at home overnight, using a 7kW home charger. For a 0-100% charge, this will take 7 hours 30 minutes. A public 50kW rapid charger will give a 15-80% charge in 45 minutes. A 100kW charger takes just 30 minutes for a 15-80% charge.
It’s worth noting that the Corsa-e is available with a 7.4 kW onboard charger or an 11 kW onboard charger. The 11 kW onboard charger will provide slightly quicker charging at chargers that are faster than the 7 kW units, but there’s no difference when using 50 kW or 100 kW rapid chargers.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e SE Nav 7.4 kW costs £27,665; the SE Nav 11 kW costs £28,515; the Elite Nav 7.4 kW costs £30,310; and the Elite Nav 11 kW costs £31,160. All these prices are after the UK government’s £3,000 plug-in car grant has been deducted.
Our Elite Nav 7.4 kW test car had the option of Voltaic Blue metallic paint (£565) taking the total price to £30,875 (after the grant).
In comparison, the petrol Corsa is priced from £15,750 for the SE model to £25,990 for the Ultimate Nav model. So the Corsa-e is more expensive to buy, but the running costs will be much lower than the petrol model.
We’ve had all-electric cars from the likes of Tesla, Jaguar, Audi and other premium brands, which are all pretty expensive, but we’ve never had an electric Vauxhall Corsa – until now. Which is why the Corsa-e is significant. The government wants every car in the UK – all 30 or so million of them – to be electric by the UK’s net zero target date of 2050, and it wants all new cars to be electric by 2040, or possibly 2035 or even sooner. The only way this will happen is if the best-selling cars – like the Corsa – are available in electric form.
So this process of the electrification of our best selling cars has started with the Corsa-e, and it’s a successful application of electric technology to a car that shouldn’t scare off typical Vauxhall owners. When people drive it, they’ll find that the Corsa-e is easier and better to drive than the petrol model.
Yes, it’s more expensive to buy, but the running costs will be much lower than the petrol model – and of course it has zero tailpipe CO2 emissions, and zero tailpipe emissions that impact on local air quality.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.