2003 Vauxhall Corsa Active 1.0 litre 12v from UK and Ireland


Great first car, well equipped, love it!



Oil change, new spark plugs and brake discs and pads.

Gear linkage gradually became slack, made gear change quite loose and clunky; just had it replaced, and it's now like new again.

The alloy wheels are particularly easy for my mum to kerb when she borrows my car; thanks for that mum.

Original backbox developed several holes in it, which made it sound like a truck, and has just been replaced.

Silver seatbelts are now quite grubby.

Fabric on drivers door now starting to appear worn where I have my arm resting.

Drivers side handle to move the seat up (so people can get in the back) has snapped; easy to replace.

All the above faults can be attributed to the car's higher than average mileage; and mainly town driving I think.

General Comments:

The active model is very well equipped. It has power steering, air con, CD player with additional controls on the steering wheel, electric windows and mirrors, metallic paint (greyish silver), ABS and 15" alloy wheels. I do not like the look of the standard wheels, so when I finally get some spare cash, I will look for some aftermarket ones.

The car is mechanically very sound; the faults listed above were down to the cars mileage and high use. Surprised that there are no interior rattles yet, even at motorway speeds... a very refined car!

The performance isn't bad for a 1 litre; you don't expect miracles from it, but it's fast enough to get you in a heap of trouble if you're not careful. I have hit 100mph in this car, but it was a struggle and required an empty motorway. I have been in one that has done 110 by drafting behind another car on a slight downhill slope though, so you do have to work hard to get anything out of it!! But it was built for economy not for speed, let's face it.

It has short gear ratios in the first 2 gears, so initial acceleration can surprise some people, like my friend with a 1.3L Ford Ka. Still very easy to wheelspin. Mid range power is adequate, but after 85mph in 5th the car doesn't want to know. Having 12 valves is a godsend really. With 5 people and luggage the car can labour a bit, but that's only to be expected. Drive carefully, and you will return perhaps 60mpg. Drive hard like me and expect to halve that.

Insurance is extremely cheap! Group 1 insurance - which is good for me as I'm a poor student. This car would make an ideal first car, as it is quite well equipped, stylish (very important) and very cheap to run.

With the air con on, it saps some of the power, but it's probably the best air con I have ever experienced; very quick to cool the car down. Also, due to the small engine, it's very quick to warm up on those freezing winter days.

The interior is well equipped; stylish and of good enough quality for me. It's rather roomy for a small car, especially in the back. The boot is also a decent size, not that I use it to go shopping much or anything.

Handling; well, it's perfect around town, with speed-adjusted power steering. A chimpanzee could probably drive this car - it's that easy to drive. On country roads or hard steering the car can be quite wallowy, with its soft suspension, but it was never designed to be a rally car in the first place. I can say with confidence however that the brakes are top notch for a car of its size, and have gotten me out of one or two hairy situations, without the ABS even having to activate!

I would definitely recommend buying a Corsa, although I would prefer a larger engine. The 1.0L is great around town or for first drivers, but if you are going to go over 60mph at any time, opt for the 1.2L. It has surprised me how trouble free the motoring has been with the Corsa... I used to have a Peugeot 106 and it was nothing but trouble!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th July, 2007

30th Jul 2007, 14:48

I would just like to comment on how helpful this review has been. I am looking for a first car and this review has told me exactly what I wanted to know without having too many technical terms. This review has helped me a lot with working out which is the best first car for me.

2003 Vauxhall Corsa Life 1.3 CDTI from UK and Ireland


Funky, frugal, flawed!


Rear seat brackets had excessive play causing the seat to rattle. Adjusted unsatisfactorily, so replaced.

Piece of plastic trim fell off from under driver's seat.

Various rattles and squeaks, dependent on ambient temperature.

Intermittent spluttering around 2,000 rpm in mild weather (approx 16 degrees C).

Rust on driver's door hinge at 30 months old.

Glow plugs at 15,000 miles. Fault occurred the day I collected the car and was off the road for 2 days.

Handbrake ineffective at 18,000 miles so adjusted.

Front suspension bushes greased at same time due to creaking noise.

Alternator pulley at 15,000 miles.

Alternator at 22,000 miles.

Alternator belt tensioner at 23,000 miles.

Knocking through steering developed at 23,000 miles after getting progressively worse. Diagnosis - new steering rack required.

Thankfully it is still under manufacturer's warranty, although this runs out next month.

General Comments:

Despite the catalogue of faults listed above, I still feel that the Corsa is a good car which has many strengths. It is nippy, reasonably quiet for a diesel, and is very cheap to run. It is happy to sit at 70mph on a motorway, where I feel it outperfoms the 1.2 Twinport. Very little changing gear is required, even on steepish hills. Comfort is very good for a basic car. It effortlessly managed a 400 mile round trip in a weekend. Average fuel consumption has been around 58mpg which cannot be faulted.

Dealer service has been very good in general, and I would not hesitate to recommend them to friends and colleagues.

However, the number of faults I have experienced surprises me given the youth and low mileage of the car. I would expect these faults of an old car, not one so new!

Has anyone else had a similar experience of the Corsa, in particular the CDTI? Petrol ones seem to have fewer faults.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th August, 2006