Opel Corsa GSi review

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Hot hatches are like puppies – adorable but they come a price.

For all the joy they deliver they can be hard to live with day to day as they constantly distract you from all the other things you should be doing. Any serious small hot hatchback has the 200hp+ Fiesta ST to beat and no one has yet delivered a pocket rocket that rivals its hard core driving ability. Not everyone wants to be encouraged to drive hard all the time and for those drivers there is always the warm hatch option like he 150hp three-door Corsa GSi.

Available to buy in Ireland by special order in Ireland its starts from €25,232 and you can spec it up from there. The Corsa GSI is a good bit cheaper than the ST or excellent all round VW Polo GTI but dearer than the Suzuki Swift Sport – a truer competitor.

The sharp looking Corsa GSI supermini comes as a three-door, a sporty body style that is all but discontinued. It rides on 17 inch alloys as standard but the optional 18 inch alloys (with ultra low profile rubber band like sports tyres) really set the car off. There are some nice body features that are more for show than go like front air intakes that are blanked off. Red brake calipers hint of performance stopping power and overall the GSI with its 10mm lower stance looks pretty smart.

Inside the leather covered sports steering wheel and metal pedals add to the sporty pedigree. My test car had optional Recaro sports seats up front that were heated! A heated steering wheel also featured and don’t tell anyone – but it is a brilliant feature especially on cold mornings.

Corsa GSI power comes from a turbocharged 1.4 litre petrol engine with 220nm and 150hp delivered from its four cylinder engine to the front wheels. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard. 0-100km/h takes just under nine seconds and top speed is 207km/h.

On the road the great looking big allows and low profile tyres feel a little at odds with the suspension set up. The suspension is relatively soft for a hot hatch and you can feel this when cornering with gusto. There is a point where you can feel the transfer between the tyres doing their work and the suspension’s springs and shocks absorbers (dampers) doing there thing. The expected fluid suspension load up and controlled body roll feels a little clunky and noticeable. Now, knowing exactly what the tyres are up to is a key part of driving and with the GSI I did – it just wasn’t a smooth transition despite the GSI getting essentially the basic set up from the more performance pitched OPC Corsa.

Day to day the Corsa GSI is good fun to drive and easier on fuel and insurance than a full on hot hatch. When you need a dart of power its there and twisty routes are enjoyable to take. Warm hatches allow you use more of their potential performance more of the time without being a menace to society! Auto wipers, rearview mirror and auto lighting control LED headlights are optional too as part of the Sight & Light pack, and I would recommend them without hesitation. In a world of SUVs the GSI reminds you that a nippy small car can be a whole heap of fun.

The Corsa GSI is a happy car that clearly fills a gap between the benign Corsa and downright anti-social OPC version… that we all love!

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for over 18 years and is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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