D he Corsa, so We read in the driving report that we were born into a world with high fuel prices and increasingly tight household budgets, in which the acceptance of cars of this size is gaining in importance. Who are we to contradict? We would rather pay tribute to the foresight of our former editor-in-chief Klaus Westrup. In any case, his statement has lost none of its validity and relevance since he wrote it in issue 10/1982 about the Corsa A.
38 years, five generations and 13.7 million copies later, the Corsa F started with Peugeot -Technology in a new, not quite certain future. After all, his rivalry with the three small cars that compete against him has lasted for decades: Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift, VW Polo. All with three-cylinder turbos, all around 100 hp. Let's all go!
Opel Corsa: Well lioned, screamer
Let's not make such a big deal out of the fact that the Corsa now shares the technical undergarments with the Peugeot 208. Because the base was not entirely from Opel for a long time, since the Corsa D and E built from 2006 had close technical ties to the Fiat Punto. Yes, this liaison from GM times has almost been forgotten. Despite the new one with PSA, the Corsa maintains its own appearance - but only superficially.
The interior shows the typical Opel style, in which the buttons and levers are also sorted. But from the second level onwards, the infotainment is practically completely the same as that of the 208, which is not conducive to intuitive operation due to the confused menu structure and the dull reaction of the touchscreen.
More important: Like the 208, the Corsa uses little space efficient. Behind the high loading sill it only accommodates 309 liters of luggage, and the rear passengers have to squeeze through short doors onto the low-mounted, steep-backed rear seat. You can keep your head pulled in because of the tight interior height (optional glass roof). The pilot and co also travel a little more cramped than in the other three cars.
The engine department gave the Corsa a little more space. At 1.2 liters, the three-cylinder turbo, which complies with Euro 6d, has 200 cc more displacement than the others. The fact that the all-aluminum engine was named “Engine of the Year” three times shows two things: on the one hand, that it is a great engine and, on the other, that it has been around for a while. He is still convincing with a gripping temperament, driving the Corsa forward vehemently, lively, with high pressure and still easy to turn. Even the hooking of the suitably stepped six-speed transmission cannot slow him down. However, the 1.200er developed a turboprop-like sound that penetrates the insulation like wind and rolling noise.
The consumption (6.6 l /100 km) is okay in view of the energetic driving performance. Although on country roads you sometimes don't really know what to do with them. Because the Corsa is not in the mood for illustrious swarming around curves despite the tight set-up. Above all loaded, he jostles with the rear axle harshly over short bumps, but gives himself up to understeer in curves, while the precise steering reports nebulous back.
A small car, you might argue, does not have to be lively, but first and foremost to drive safely. That's right, and the Corsa does that very well. He cannot be provoked to oversteer by load changes, and the ESP never has to be accused of a lack of presence, intervenes very moderately early on. In addition, it has extensive security equipment.
However, it has a certain range in quality and ranges fromStandard, nervous, overreaching lane departure warning system via the lane change warning system, which is only equipped with ultrasonic sensors (650 euros in the package), to brilliant matrix LED headlights with glare-free permanent high beam (from Elegance, 700 euros). Is that enough to outshine the competition despite sparse equipment and a rather simple choice of materials?
Renault Clio: Well, my friends
In any case, it won't be easy with a rival like the Clio that has been around toured around in the fifth generation last September - little changed on the outside, but technically grown, matured and modernized. It uses the CMF-B architecture of the rarely cheerful alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi as a platform. The quality of workmanship and materials proves that this is also about optimized production processes. The Clio shows a solidity and high quality that Renault would have rejected two decades ago as 'non-French'. Everything works well in everyday life too: enough space, easy entry, large loading space, functional variability, enough storage space.
A Renault without any peculiarities or inconveniences? But no, they still exist, at least as an option, because the developers have shifted them to online navigation infotainment with a touch-swipe screen. It is amazingly easy, sometimes even unintentionally, to vary the volume of the turn signal - a function whose innovative strength we have previously rated as being of secondary importance.
On the other hand, route input, including correct zoom and map alignment, can even be used by experienced navigators initially to be faced with challenges. After all, the control satellite for the audio system retains an idea that no other nation in the French car industry can contest - possibly for good reason. Whereby: after a few days of getting used to it, the auto motor und sport team navigated, searched for and blinked in the Clio in an exemplary manner.
Also exemplary in the small Renault: the well-positioned assistance equipment that is already in the basestandard LED headlights, vehement brakes and the safe, but not really agile driving behavior. In addition, like the Corsa, it lacks feeling and precision in steering. And although its chassis has been tuned to be more comfortable, it shows a certain jitteriness on the rear axle, which is under little load but is designed for a high proportion of the payload. Nevertheless, the Clio bounces properly, and small bumps passed on by the chassis fizzle out in the soft upholstery of the large, somewhat low-pressure seats that are difficult to adjust using two levers.
One likes to snuggle up in them even for long journeys on which the one-liter turbo three-cylinder drives the Clio less quick-tempered than persistent and economical (6.4 l /100 km). The transmission lacks a sixth gear, but not gentle hookiness. Otherwise? There is a catch, because despite the cheapest price in this round, Renault has equipped the Clio richly. So it's not just a little friend like the R5 was once, but a big, fine friend.
Suzuki Swift: Probably turned out to be mild
The Swift weighs nine hundred and twenty-seven kilos, although it is a mild hybrid a small power plant drives around with it: an electric motor that, as a belt starter generator, boosts when accelerating and supplies parts of the on-board electrical system with power, which it temporarily stores in a 12-volt lithium-ion battery using recuperation. The Polo, on the other hand, weighs five hundred pounds more when completely unhybridized.
That's right, the VW is 21.3 cm longer and has more space for passengers and luggage. But on 6.7 square meters, the Suzuki accommodates four adults surprisingly undisturbed - although not particularly comfortably. The thinly padded rear seat lacks support and comfort, and the front seats do not provide sufficient back support. The lightness is also put into perspective by the not very weighty choice of materials.
The fact that the Swift weighs so little is explained by the technicians primarily with the Heartect platform and the high-strength frame structure, which means that no further stabilization is required, which saves 120 kg. Overall feelsit feels simple but solid. Yes, chassis, wind and engine noises easily penetrate the sparse insulation, but it is quieter than the 204 kg heavier Corsa.
In addition, it is more economical with 6.2 l /100 km. And faster. With the highest performance, the lowest weight and the additional boost of the hybrid, the Swift reaches a speed with which it could have performed in the GTIs in the days of the Golf II. On this lap it seems particularly urgent because the chassis and steering are also determined to be dynamic. You may be bothered by the drive influences in the precise, sharply responsive steering, but unlike the Clio and Corsa, there is something stirring at all.
Those who are enthusiastic about the bustling handling will still be characterized by the jitteriness and clear sway feels more agile, is not bothered by the unsteady directional stability on the autobahn or the erratic suspension, which only incompletely fulfills its task - especially with payload on short bumps. In addition, the weaker, more difficult to dose brakes, the incomplete safety and assistance equipment and details such as the belts in the rear that are too short for many child seats prevent the Swift from doing better despite a lot of equipment. In any case, he can't prevail against Corsa and Clio.
VW Polo: That's serious
Especially not against the Polo. At VW, they approach the subject of small cars quite differently than their colleagues from Suzuki, with whom they once wanted to cooperate in this segment. In terms of dimensions, the Polo has now reached the size of the Golf III, and even surpasses it in terms of space. This is due to the space efficiency of the modular transverse matrix, which in the small car version A0 forms the foundation of the Polo - and its success.
The VW accommodates its passengers in a space that is usually only available in the compact class . To do this, at VW they move sturdy, long-distance comfortable, firmly padded seats into the interior, carefully insulate it and sort out the controls so that you can handle them right away, except for the smallest details. Little things? Yes, until the optional (400 euros) and dispensable digital instruments show what you want to see, it's quite a beating around on the central monitor.
And while the polo is processed with care, the quality of the hard plastic that VW incorporates from the Up to the Polo, T-Cross and T-Roc to the Golf does not match the position and price range that the brand claims.
In contrast, the Polo is in a league of its own when it comes to comfort. In the normal mode of the two-stage adjustable damper (440 euros) it can even tackle nasty, short bumps, swaying little and hardly swaying after long waves. Even in the clearly stricter sports program, he remains sociable instead of bolder. In addition to the dampers, it also tightens the characteristics of the steering and drive. This brings even more feeling into the precise, direct steering and agilizes the handling.
However, the sport mode seduces the otherwise sovereign dual-clutch transmission ( 1,575 euros) to hectic switching around. High revving pleasure or exuberant temperament are not among the great strengths of the one-liter three-cylinder. It drives the Polo more calmly and not extremely economical (6.6 l /100 km), but cultivated and solid.
'Solid' describes a lot about the Polo anyway: driving safety, braking as well as many safety, Light and assistance elements that complement the sparse standard trim at extra cost. Adjusted for equipment and including the test-relevant extras (digital instruments, dampers, 17-inch wheels), the VW costs around 7,000 euros more than the Clio. Seven thousand! Even so, in the end, this only reduces the gap between the rivals, but does not endanger the victory of Polo. The Corsa, on the other hand, only comes in third - hardly the lightning start into a new future that Opel was hoping for.