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.
Since we first ran this story back in June last year, the Corsa-e has gone on sale and a few of the original details have been finalised – mostly around its charging capabilities. We've duly updated our original story with the official UK on-the-road specs.
The electrified version of the brand's long-lived and ever-popular supermini is available to buy now and it's in showrooms and ready to test drive alongside its newly styled, conventionally-powered counterparts. Now that we've had a chance to see it in the metal, it has to be said that Vauxhall has done a fine job on the car.
Under the skin the Corsa-e shares much of its architecture with the 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 209 mile range (under WLTP conditions). There are three driving modes available depending on the driver's mood or requirements – Eco, 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. Thanks to its battery and electric drivetrain, the Corsa-e has a 10 per cent lower centre of gravity as well as 30 per cent greater torsional stiffness than petrol or diesel versions, so despite its 345kg weight penalty, it should be a hoot in the corners.
Charging the Vauxhall Corsa-e is a simple, user-friendly affair and has been made as such to ensure owners who are new to EVs aren't daunted by the process. For owners wishing to charge at home, a Mode 2 cable compatible with domestic 3-pin sockets can be purchased as an optional extra, though charging from empty will take a significant amount of time on that.
A 7.4kW Mode 3 cable is standard and supports faster, on-the-go charging from public chargers and those that businesses are typically installing now. The Corsa-e also supports CCS rapid charging at speeds up to 100kW – enabling an 80 per cent charge in as little as 30 minutes. Vauxhall guarantees that the battery will maintain at least 70 per cent of its charge for eight years or 100,000 miles which should provide ample reassurance.
Among the optional extras is a universal charger which combines mode 2 and 3 connections in one device – handy if you don't want to carry more than one cable around with you! 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 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 aids, with many of them carried over from models further up the Vauxhall 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.
VauxhallConnect offers drivers access to real-time traffic information through live navigation, with the system also highlighting free parking spaces and fuel prices along the journey. With ‘e-remote control’ through the MyVauxhall smartphone app, owners can check the vehicle’s state of charge, set charging times or pre-programme the interior temperature.
The Corsa-e will cost from £27,665, including the government's newly-lowered £3000 grant, which equates to monthly payments from £270 on a PCP deal. 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 comes in just a little bit more expensive, but packs a similar level of kit and also delivers 245 miles of range. It also has competition from the base-spec Nissan LEAF, and MINI Electric which undercuts the Corsa-e on price and arguably has greater brand appeal, but loses out on range. Of course, there's always the Peugeot e-208 sister ship, and that's an undeniably good looking car.
The EV B-segment is a busy one, but the Corsa-e is most definitely a welcome addition.