They say you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once, and so it is the case with Vauxhall's late entry into the alternatively-powered car market. In the wake of the recent launch of its first ever PHEV, the Grandland X Hybrid 4, Vauxhall has now revealed the Corsa-e – the brand's first pure-electric Corsa.
The electrified version of the brand's long-lived and ever-popular supermini is available to reserve now (see below) and deliveries are expected to begin in early 2020 alongside its newly styled, conventionally-powered counterparts. Under the skin the Corsa-e shares much of its architecture with the up-coming Peugeot e-208. It packs a 134bhp electric propulsion system with a healthy 192lb-ft of torque – good for 0-62 in 8.1 seconds. Vauxhall is also keen to point out the 0-31mph time of 2.8 seconds which is handy for urban situations where the Corsa-e is most likely to spend much of its life.
Providing on-board power is a 50kWh battery which gives the Corsa-e a 205 mile range (under WLTP conditions). Range, however, can be extended by up to 40 per cent if drivers opt to use the car's Eco mode – one of three driving modes available with the others being Normal and Sport. In Eco mode, the car optimises all on-board systems for maximum efficiency while minimising the detrimental effect on comfort and, we assume, the quality of the driving experience.
If range anxiety is not an affliction you suffer from, Sport mode removes around 10 per cent from that WLTP figure and exchanges it for a sharper throttle response and the car's full available power, which enables those key acceleration stats to be achieved.
Charging the Vauxhall Corsa-e is a simple, user-friendly affair. As standard it comes with an 11kW on-board charger and can be charged from external sources via a cable that can be connected to a wall box or fast charger, which will juice the battery to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes. Vauxhall guarantees that the battery will maintain at least 70 per cent of its charge for eight years or 100,000 miles.
Two levels of regenerative braking are available, with each helping to eke out the maximum efficiency from the electric motor. At the lower level the Corsa-e decelerates in a similar manner to the engine braking effect of a conventionally-powered car which is ideal for people new to the EVs. At the higher level of energy recuperation the effect is far stronger, enabling the car to claw back more energy to be deployed either immediately, or stored in the battery.
Inside, the Corsa-e doesn't fall short when it comes to infotainment and driver assistance systems, taking many of them carried over from models further up the Vauxhall model range. Vauxhall's Navi entertainment system comes as standard on the Corsa-e with the basic Multimedia package offering a 7 inch colour touchscreen, voice recognition and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Audio. The top-of-the-range Navi Pro ups the screen size to 10 inches and brings with it a host of additional functionality.
A smorgasbord of driver assistance systems increases the safety of the Corsa-e, using camera and optional radar technology. These include traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist (a first on the Corsa), blind spot alert, parking assistance and an intelligent drowsiness detection which alerts the driver to when they should take a break based on either how long they have been driving or whether the car detects erratic driving. Two emergency braking systems are available which use either the forward-facing camera, or both the camera and optional radar to detect and help the driver avoid impending collisions.
The Corsa-e will cost from £26,490, including the government's £3500 grant, which equates to monthly payments of £270 on a PCP deal as a starting point. You can reserve one for a refundable fee of £500, and if you're one of the first 500 to place an order you'll get a home charging kit chucked in for nothing upon delivery, which is definitely a worthwhile freebie!
This price point puts the Corsa-e in direct competition with the Renault ZOE which retails at the same price in Germany, but lags behind with a 22kWh battery versus the Corsa-e's 50kWh. The Renault's optional 41kWh comes at a premium. By the end of the year, the Corsa-e will have yet more competition by way of the Nissan LEAF, forthcoming MINI Electric and its sister ship, the Peugeot e-308.