Revived GSi warms up Corsa
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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