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Vauxhall Corsa SRi:

Date: Nov 1, 2007


Author: Ninety Eight Regency

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Original Article:

Vauxhall Corsa SRi

Date: Oct, 2007


Author: James Disdale

Photos: Pete Gibson

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Vauxhall Corsa SRi
Rating: *** stars out of five

Vauxhall's new Corsa SRi promises performance, sporty looks and an affordable price tag. But does it deliver on the road?
Text: James Disdale / Photos: Pete Gibson

October 2007
Vauxhall Corsa SRi

Things are warming up in Vauxhall showrooms! After an absence of two years, the sporty SRi badge is back on a Corsa. Slotting in below the flagship VXR, the model is aimed at buyers looking for performance on a budget.

With a price tag of £13,625, a 148bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged motor and stiffened suspension, itís a tempting choice in the brochure. However, thereís stiff competition from a raft of talented warm hatches, including the Peugeot 207 GT and Ford Fiesta ST.

So is it a welcome return for the quick Corsa, or are you better off saving up the extra £2,000 for the more powerful 189bhp VXR?

Walk up to the SRi, and it looks really good. A neat bootlid-mounted spoiler, chunky side skirts and a deeper front bumper enhance the already sharp styling. An oval-shaped chrome tailpipe and 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels add further visual drama.

The interior is equally striking. With lots of red trim, the SRi harks back to the Eighties heyday of the hot hatch. The steering wheel, seats, carpet mats and seatbelts all get flashes of colour. Combine this with the aluminium finish on the centre console, and you have a cabin thatís a pleasure to be in.

Elsewhere, the interior is standard Corsa. This means excellent build quality, soft-touch materials and lots of space Ė although rear occupants will struggle for headroom in the rakish three-door model.

To counter this, the company also offers a five-door version for a £650 premium. Itís not as attractive, but adds an element of practicality to the performance package.

Vauxhallís engineers have tweaked the mechanicals to try to ensure the driving experience matches the looks. The 1.6-litre engine is a detuned version of the VXRís unit, and provides strong performance.

Only 7.6 seconds are needed for the 0-60mph sprint, while the 210Nm torque output means the SRi can overtake comfortably. It also sounds good, taking on an edgy rasp the harder you press the throttle.

Those after better fuel economy can choose the 123bhp 1.7-litre CDTI diesel. Not only will it return 58mpg, but it has even more torque Ė 280Nm at 2,300rpm Ė so should deliver blistering mid-range acceleration.

To provide poise in the corners, the suspension has been lowered by 18mm at the front, and 15mm at the rear. The electrically assisted steering has also been reprogrammed, and is claimed to give greater weighting and more feedback. Sadly, the SRi fails to live up to its promise. Turn into a bend and youíll discover an artificial feel to the steering and a chassis thatís too easily upset by mid-corner bumps and the torque of the turbo powerplant.

The stiff suspension set-up also means that the Corsa crashes and thumps over even the smoothest surfaces, making motorway journeys a pain. A springy action to the six-speed gearbox and a jerky throttle compound the dynamic deficiencies.

This is a shame, as in terms of outright performance, the SRi has its rivals well and truly beaten. It looks good both inside and out, and the standard equipment on offer is generous, stretching to electronic stability control and air-conditioning.

Whatís more, the option of choosing a five-door bodyshell and diesel power gives it an edge over most of its rivals. However, in this three-door petrol-powered guise, it doesnít have the fluidity of the 207 GT or sharp handling of the Fiesta ST.

The sporty Fiesta is getting on a bit now, and canít match the Corsa for build or refinement, while its 148bhp 2.0-litre motor doesnít have the muscle of the Vauxhall engine. But the Ford has a great chassis and fizzes with fun on back roads.



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