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Euro-chic Opel Corsa back in Oz

Little wonder: Opel's most popular model in Europe, the Corsa light car, will go in sale in Australia this August.

One-time Barina finds a fresh foothold in Australia as the new Opel Corsa

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1 Aug 2012

THE artist formerly known as Holden Barina has staged a comeback in Australia, this time under the Opel banner as Corsa – its name in Europe for the past 30 years.

Holden swapped its European-sourced Barina for a more basic, cheaper, Korean-made, Chevrolet-based hatchback range under the Barina name seven years ago, but the donor car continued onward and upward in Europe, where it is Opel’s most popular model in its fourth generation.

The current Corsa was launched way back in 2006, on a platform co-developed with Fiat (for Punto), but has had a couple of makeovers since, most notably in 2010, with a further tweak last year.

It is made in Germany and Spain, selling in Britain as the Vauxhall Corsa.

Arriving in Australian showrooms next month in three-door and five-door hatchback body styles, the 1.4-litre Corsa will attempt to force a niche between mainstream light cars such as the Toyota Yaris, Mazda2 and Hyundai i20, and the increasingly competitive (thanks to the strength of the Aussie dollar) Euro premium brigade, including the Volkswagen Polo, Peugeot 207, Citroen C3 and next year’s all-new Renault Clio.

Priced from $16,490 to $20,990 (plus on-road costs), the smallest of three Opel models to be offered here will be equipped with just one engine choice plucked from the middle of the range in Europe – a normally aspirated 1.4-litre four-cylinder producing 74kW of power and 130Nm of torque.

The three-door Corsa, which Opel describes as “coupe-like”, will come in two flavours – the price-leading manual-only base Corsa, and Corsa Colour Edition, which is designed to appeal to buyers with a desire to dress up their daily ride with bright colours and other stand-out features for a $2000 premium.

The latter mimics the Euro chic individualisation trend started by the Audi A3 and Mini, but at a considerably lower price point (and with far fewer options).

The Colour Edition is available with a choice of five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions, as is the five-door hatch, called Enjoy.

Enjoy is aimed at couples and young families, providing budget transport with five-door convenience and a European badge.

The arrival of the three-door Corsa goes against the trend in Australia, where other manufacturers plying their trade in the light-car segment have moved towards five-door hatchbacks, with a sprinkling of sedans.

Opel Australia is hoping the sporty design and appeal of a European badge for just $16,490 will move metal.

At that price, Corsa is $500 dearer than the cheapest Holden Barina, and $500 cheaper than the European-designed (but Thai-built) five-door Ford Fiesta.

The VW Polo – the car most likely to be shopped against the Corsa – starts at $16,990 for the 1.4-litre Trendline, but this has the advantage of five doors.

The Corsa is more powerful by 11kW than the entry-level 63kW Polo, but the VW has 2Nm more torque, at 132Nm.

Volkswagen’s well-established Polo offers a much wider range of powertrain and equipment level options, stepping up through the turbo-petrol 1.2-litre 77TSI, turbo-diesel 66TDI and range-topping 132kW/250Nm GTI levels, with seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions on offer.

No diesel or high-performance Corsa variants are available locally at launch, but Opel has plenty of options back at the factory.

Top of the wishlist for potential Corsa customers could be the 141kW/230Nm Corsa OPC – already blasting around the autobahns at home – or better still the 154kW/250Nm OPC Nurburgring Edition, named after the legendary circuit where it was developed.

For now, local buyers will have to settle for more basic fare, starting with the three-door Corsa that is identical in length to the five-door variant and sits on the same MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle.

Acceleration from zero to 100km/h is said to take 11.9 seconds – three-tenths quicker than the base Polo – while the old-school four-speed auto slows that sprint down by a full two seconds, to a tardy 13.9 seconds.

Corsa fuel economy is rated at 5.8 litres per 100km for the manual and 6.3L/100km for the auto, compared with 6.0L/100km for the Polo manual and 6.1L/100km for the auto.

The base Corsa price leader comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare wheel, while the three-door Colour Edition and five-door Enjoy both get 16-inch alloys.

Standard features on Corsa include air-conditioning, halogen headlights, daytime-running lamps, rear fog lamp, Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power mirrors, cloth trim, 60/40 split-fold rear seats and remote keyless entry. It also has a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating.

In keeping with Corsa’s young target audience, digital radio is being phased in on 2013 models, along with USB connectivity. Until then, the seven-speaker audio system gets MP3 connectivity and a CD player.

The $18,490 Colour Edition steps up with a bunch of dark exterior touches, including a stylish black roof, dark bezel headlights, black exterior mirrors, smoke-glass tail-lamps and rear privacy glass, as well as piano-black interior trim in place of the standard brushed-metal look.

For the full effect, Colour Edition customers can order optional 17-inch black-painted alloy wheels and a lowered sports chassis.

As well as an additional range of bright colours such as Flaming Yellow and Magma Red to choose from – hence the model name – the Colour Edition gains cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and sports alloy pedals.

The five-door Corsa Enjoy’s equipment levels are much the same as the base model, except for the alloy wheels, cruise control, leather steering wheel and an adjustable floor in the cargo area.

Options on Enjoy include adaptive forward lighting – a system that automatically adjusts the spread of light according to need – rear park assist, auto-dimming interior mirror, rain-sensing wipers and chrome-bezel headlamps.

Opel Corsa hatch pricing (plus on-road costs):
3-door 1.4$16,490
3-door Colour Edition 1.4$18,490
3-door Colour Edition 1.4 (a)$20,490
5-door Enjoy 1.4$18,990
5-door Enjoy 1.4 (a)$20,990

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