The Vauxhall Corsa turns 25: We look back at one of Britain’s most popular superminis
Since 1993, the Vauxhall Corsa has been a staple on British roads. A replacement for the much-loved, but flimsy Nova, it had intense competition for sales in the UK – competing with popular models such as the Ford Fiesta, Rover 100, Nissan Micra, Peugeot 205 and Renault Clio – to name but a few.
The Corsa's combination of simple mechanicals, curvy and attractive bodyshells and tempting value means it's remained incredibly popular over the last quarter of a decade – regularly sitting on the podium for new car sales.
Now, as the Corsa turns 25, we take a look back at how it got where it is...
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Opel Corsa A 1983-1993
The UK's Vauxhall Nova was originally sold on the continent as an Opel Corsa. The UK market took the name for the car's second generation onwards, so this model doesn't really count – but it marks the beginning of the Corsa nameplate.
Vauxhall Corsa B 1993-2000
With a cute and curvy bodyshell replacing the straight-edged styling, the Corsa couldn't have been more different from the straight-edged Nova it replaced. A wide variety of engines gave plenty of choice for all kinds of drivers – 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols were all available, as well as an Isuzu-sourced 1.5-litre diesel which gave incredible economy.
Later years bought updated engines, a few styling tweaks and Lotus-tuned suspension. However, 1997 also bought a two-star Euro NCAP rating. It was time for an update.
Vauxhall Corsa C 2000-2006
The C was introduced to the European market in October 2000. Externally, it was like the old model had the definition turned up – the overall shape was similar, but lines were sharpened up and the whole affair looked appreciably more modern.
The cars were reliable, cheap to run and could be insured for pennies, which is why they remain popular first cars to this day. At the time, the Corsa achieved the top sales spot for superminis – being the most popular in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. It was finally overtaken by the Ford Fiesta in 2006.
Vauxhall Corsa D 2006-2014
Finally, the Corsa gained the all-new platform it deserved – albeit one shared with the Fiat Grande Punto. Once again, a wide array of engines were available – ranging from 1.0-litre to a raging 1.6-litre in the VXR hot hatchback.
A facelift in 2011 kept things fresh, but the Corsa never achieved the popularity of the Fiesta of the time. Launched in 2007, the Fiesta beat the Corsa when it came to driving dynamics, and the staid image of the Vauxhall badge did the brand no favours either.
Vauxhall Corsa E 2014-
The Corsa D shared its basic chassis architecture with the new car, so the Corsa E is very similar outwardly to its predecessor. But every exterior panel is new, and the brand took customer feedback into account – adding items that buyers asked for, such as a heated windscreen.
The Corsa E has remained in second place in the sales charts fairly constantly until recently, as diminishing Vauxhall sales hurt the supermini's success. It finished 2017 languishing in fifth place with just 52,722 registrations – compared to the Fiesta's 94,533. A new Corsa is set to be revealed in the coming years, but with uncertainty surrounding the brand's future under new Peugeot Citroen ownership, who knows what it will be like?