Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SXI
Reviewers aren't about biased. Neither are Journalists, and as a student of both, it becomes a tad tricky when you talk about your own car. It's like when you pass your test. The examiner calmly proclaims "Congratulations, you've passed", but as far as your concerned, driving legend. I'm afraid its much the same story here, because either the Vauxhall Corsa is the best all round car in the world, or I'm a massive liar.
Your mum wants you to have something safe, your dad wants you to have something cheap, and although the insurance companies don't really want you to have anything at all, this is one of the only 1.4 cars that they will insure for less than £1500 quid. All rounder it certainly is. It has airbags in every crevice imaginable, meaning that your child will be protected from the branches, animals and bodies that will inevitably come flying through the windscreen, and your tight-fisted dad wins as well. Last week I managed 50 mpg, partly because I avoided rush hour in the South West's capital, Exeter, but mostly because I just kept it in fifth gear most of the time. Its incredible the tolerance this car has with lazy drivers, so you can imagine how it saved my ass on a number of occasions. Although grumbling a bit about it, it pulled away in third gear from about five mph. What does that? Some cars, namely some of the older Astons, have massive ranges of speed in each gear, but I just don't know of another car that goes from 20mph to well over 70mph in fifth gear.
Going to work can consist of about ten gear changes, and even less if you short shift!
What about when you bin it? When the moment comes when you find yourself on the side of the road, holding bits of the car that should be, well, on the car, how easy is it to hide? When you rip the black plastic chin spoiler off, when not if, it simply pops back on, and a little black plastic spray and parents are none the wiser. The tyres on the thing look more tyres designed for cars double the Corsa's size, but they're only 40 quid each to replace, meaning that burnouts are fun and affordable. To be honest it's probably more affordable than fun. It is FWD after all...
The SXI has fundamentally the same chassis as the more exotic and more hard core VXR, which was of course, developed at the Nürburgring. This, by default, means the ride is unbearably uncomfortable. It's nice then, that the all rounder SXI is a middle of the road compromise. Have the tyres so inflated that they are on the same toughness and hard setting of dried Weetabix, and you can experience the same flat cornering you get in the VXR. Well, almost. But in all seriousness, the short and rigid square shape and the short wheelbase means that when you turn into a corner, it's like a determined little puppy pulling you, the owner, along for the ride. It knows that it's not as fast as a Lamborghini greyhound, and it doesn't have the looks of an Aston Alsatian, but it still tries, and you can feel that.
Although, on the subject of aesthetics, it's not exactly ugly. We didn't go ugly early with this one, and it is easy to pick the first little ugly rot box you see. You can be too hasty when choosing your first car and picking the first one you see, even if it is a bit of a munter. A VW Lupo for example. No. This car has got style. The way the headlights are pulled back over, slightly overlapping the wings. The little chrome grill even looks like braces, resembling the spotty, pubescent people who drive them.
With the Corsa then, you get the same feeling you do with a Mazda MX5, or any Ferrari. You ask any geezer that knows the square route of jack about cars, what's a fast car? They answer, stereo-typically, a Ferrari. And its widely known the king of affordable sports cars is the MX5. With the Corsa, you feel right, like it's supposed to be. People like James May would tell you that it gives him that tingling feeling.
Well people of the internet, I give you the stereotypical hatch. The learners car.