Vauxhall Corsa Electric review: performance, motor & drive
The Corsa Electric benefits from its Peugeot-Citroen underpinnings, which make it feel agile but easy to drive
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On the road, the Corsa Electric, unsurprisingly, feels quite similar to its closely related sister car, the Peugeot e-208. That means it drives well and feels direct and precise down a twisty road. On the downside, the addition of the 345kg battery pack means the chassis and suspension are a little stiffer than those of a petrol-powered Corsa, resulting in a bouncier ride.
Like most electric cars, the Corsa Electric is a peppy performer, getting from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and topping out at 93mph. For that level of performance, however, you need to be in Sport mode, which has the tandem effect of reducing the car's range. For day-to-day driving, it's best to stick with Normal mode, which restricts power to 108bhp. Eco turns the dial down further, to a typical petrol supermini output of 81bhp, in order to extract maximum range from the battery. It still feels nippy enough, though, thanks to the way it delivers that electric punch from a standstill. Those coming from a petrol car certainly won’t feel disappointed with the performance on offer.
In fact, if you spend most of your time driving around town, you might find you prefer this mode. It allows you to make most use of the regenerative braking to further conserve energy, and while it takes some getting used to, after a while you learn to anticipate when it's possible to roll off the accelerator and bring the car to a stop without using the brake pedal. Eventually, you'll end up driving like this for the vast majority of journeys.
Vauxhall Corsa Electric 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
Like lots of small electric cars, the Corsa Electric’s instant torque makes it feel particularly peppy – much more so than its petrol or diesel equivalents. It’s quite telling that much of Vauxhall’s marketing material quotes the Corsa’s 0-30mph time of just 2.8 seconds – in other words, it's really quite quick away from the lights.
But it doesn’t stop there; the Corsa Electric boasts a swift 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds, helping it keep up with most moderately quick family cars in a straight line – and that’s despite the fact the Corsa uses parent company Stellantis’s older battery and motor tech; the newer, facelifted DS 3 E-Tense and some e-208 models get a bigger battery and slightly more powerful motor.
Like those cars, things start to tail off in the Corsa at 70mph or so, but for typical UK commuters the Vauxhall’s performance should be more than adequate. A 93mph top speed won’t trouble sports cars, but it’s sufficient for those who regularly use their car on the motorway.
By basing the Corsa on the latest Peugeot 208, Vauxhall has worked wonders for the car’s handling. While the steering is light and there isn’t much in the way of feedback, it’s precise, giving the car a predictable feel. There’s plenty of grip and body control is good given the added weight of the battery.
One downside is that slightly stiffer suspension means the Corsa Electric bounces about a bit more than the petrol car. But the ride is never brittle; you rarely feel shocks reverberate around the cabin, resulting in a relatively comfortable driving experience overall.
Refinement is excellent. The electric motor means the only notable sound is a bit of tyre noise, although it’s pretty well suppressed – to the extent that motorway miles are no hardship. The two-stage regenerative braking system works well, too, with the ‘B’ setting providing tangible stopping power by simply stepping off the throttle. It’s more intuitive than it sounds, and with enough anticipation can offer near-one-pedal driving.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe evergreen Vauxhall Corsa is available with an electric powertrain, but you’ll pay a big premium over the equivalent petrol version
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe ability to charge at up to 100kW from public rapid points is standard across the Corsa Electric range, and home charging times are reasonable, too
- 3Running costs & insuranceIf you can stomach the high list price, the Vauxhall Corsa Electric can be an incredibly cost-effective small car to run
- 4Performance, motor & drive - currently readingThe Corsa Electric benefits from its Peugeot-Citroen underpinnings, which make it feel agile but easy to drive
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe electric Corsa's dashboard is a little drab, while the scratchy plastics on the doors aren't befitting of its price tag
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Corsa Electric's boot is a good size, but it misses out on the petrol car's underfloor storage, which leaves nowhere to put the charging cables
- 7Reliability & safety ratingDon't be put off by the Corsa Electric's four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating; the car comes loaded with safety kit