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Revived GSi warms up Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa GSi uses the VXR’s dynamic chassis but has a less powerful turbo petrol engine. Picture: Vauxhall

Vauxhall Corsa GSi uses the VXR’s dynamic chassis but has a less powerful turbo petrol engine. Picture: Vauxhall

Vauxhall

Vauxhall has revived the GSi badge for its Corsa supermini, 25 years after launching the original. Andy Russell says it looks the part but lacks the performance of rivals.

Rear spoiler is part of the Corsa GSi's body tweaks. Picture: VauxhallRear spoiler is part of the Corsa GSi's body tweaks. Picture: Vauxhall

A quarter of a century ago Vauxhall launched a hot Corsa GSi – now it’s back as part of a final hurrah for the current supermini range.

Less extreme and less powerful than the old 210PS VXR, it shares its chassis but uses a specially-tuned 1.4-litre, 150PS turbo petrol engine – more about performance through dynamics than sheer speed and acceleration.

Vauxhall assures the high-performance VXR will be back, more about track days while GSi is more road focused.

Looks and image

Flat-bottom steering wheel adds to the sporty feel. Picture: VauxhallFlat-bottom steering wheel adds to the sporty feel. Picture: Vauxhall

The three-door GSi looks the part, especially the yellow test car with optional 18in alloy wheels.

Dynamic design tweaks include large air intakes, honeycomb grille with carbon-effect bar to match door mirrors, deep sill extensions and rear spoiler, chrome tailpipe and red brake callipers. Inside, it gets low-slung sport seats, leather sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals.

It’s all rather tasteful.

Under the bonnet

Deep 280-litre boot has 60/40 split rear seats. Picture: VauxhallDeep 280-litre boot has 60/40 split rear seats. Picture: Vauxhall

The tried-and-tested 1.4-litre engine doesn’t produce any more power in the Corsa GSi but boost pressure, fuel injection and timing have been tweaked so it breathes more freely, especially at higher revs.

With 220Nm of torque from 2,750rpm, it has decent mid-range shove for road use, especially when kept on the boil with the short-ratio six-speed gearbox. That said, it’s lags on power and performance, compared to the new Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI, but is not that far behind on price.

How it drives

What it lacks on the straights, the VXR underpinnings help claw some back through the twists and turns with good grip, poise and balance so you can use all the power – a chassis built to take 210PS isn’t troubled by 150PS.

Vauxhall Corsa GSi is offered only as a three-door model. Picture: VauxhallVauxhall Corsa GSi is offered only as a three-door model. Picture: Vauxhall

Like the VXR, the GSi’s Koni frequency selective damping increases damping force for more enthusiastic driving. Even with larger 18in wheels the ride is generally acceptably cushioned but the hard sports suspension is twitchy and restless travelling slowly on rough surfaces.

Space and comfort

Three doors limits access to the back but the GSi is roomy enough for four adults although tall passengers might find rear headroom tight.

The 280-litre boot is deep and square and 60/40 split rear seat backs fold flat, freeing up 1,090 litres, but step up from the floor.

Equipment

The Corsa GSi includes 17in two-tone diamond-cut alloys, cruise control, air-con, heated windscreen, dark tinted rear windows, leather-covered flat-bottom steering wheel and IntelliLink infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. A £1,900 GSi Plus Pack adds 18in wheels, Recaro leather seats and bi-xenon headlights with cornering function.

Final say

The GSi boosts the Corsa line-up but, in an ageing model range, looks expensive against more potent, new rivals.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Vauxhall Corsa GSi 1.4 Turbo £19,440

Engine: 1,364cc, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-60mph 8.4 seconds; top speed 129mph

MPG: Urban 36.7; extra urban 55.4; combined 47.1

CO2 emissions: 138g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 28pc

Insurance group: 20E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,021mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,944mm; H 1,479mm

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