Opel is celebrating the Corsa’s 40th birthday. The Opel Corsa made its premiere in 1982 and today is in its sixth generation. The popular small car has received many awards over the years and last year was the most popular small car in Germany and the best-selling car in the UK. The battery-electric Opel Corsa-e won the Golden Steering Wheel 2020. 40 years after its launch over 14 million units have rolled off the assembly line.
The first Corsa rolled off the production line in 1982 in Zaragoza and took off on its path to becoming a bestseller for Opel. At just 3.62 meters long chief designer Erhard Schnell had created a sporty looking small car with an exceptionally low 0.36 drag coefficient. The two-door hatch and notchback line-up was expanded in 1985 with the addition of the popular five-door model. The Corsa ‘A’ became a highly acclaimed top seller with 3.1 million units built. Despite the success of Corsa number 1, the decision was taken to position its successor as a real ‘ladies’ darling’ (Opel’s phrase not ours). Opel design legend Hideo Kodama set to work and created a much rounder, softer Corsa, with appealing ‘saucer-eye’ headlamps. The Corsa B was ten centimetres longer more spacious inside than its predecessor. It also introduced higher safety standards to its segment, including ABS cadence braking, side-impact protection and front airbags.
Hideo Kodama was again asked to design the shape of the Corsa C. The Corsa grew again by ten centimetres in length and had a wider stance with a longer wheelbase, which greatly increased interior space. For the first time, the body was fully galvanized. Sophisticated four-valve ECOTEC petrol and new direct-injection turbo diesel engines ensured strong power, low fuel consumption and low emission values, to meet the Euro 4 emission standards. From this point, the three and five-door versions go their separate ways: the three-door Corsa had unique, coupé-like styling aimed at sporty customers, just like the original Corsa A. The five-door variant became a spacious, fully-fledged family car, just less than four meters in length. With Opel’s ecoFLEX technology, the Corsa had fuel-saving Start/Stop systems and efficient engines. The 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX version consumed just 3.3 l/100km (combined) and emitted only 88 g/km CO2 (NEDC).
The Corsa E at just over the 4m long offered more comfort and technology. Features included a heated steering wheel, heated seats, automatic climate control, front camera with distance indicator, Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Keep Assist, a 7″ colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The small car’s sporty top-of-the-line model was initially the 207hp Corsa OPC and later, the Corsa GSi 150hp. Today, the latest generation of the small car can be had with petrol, diesel or battery-electric powertrains for the first time. With a length of 4.06 metres, the five-seat Corsa’s handling, practicality, safety, technology and comfort features are impressive. Happy Birthday Opel Corsa!