SOMEONE in Ford’s sales department is looking a little worried right now. July’s sales figures have come in and the Fiesta’s been squeezed off the sharp end of the UK bestsellers list – again.
That’s because 26,215 of you have looked at the Fiesta, and Peugeot’s 208, Volkswagen’s Polo, Toyota’s Yaris and Honda’s latest Jazz, for that matter, and decided you’d rather have a Vauxhall Corsa instead. A few months ago I wrote in The Champion that I reckoned it was the all-electric Corsa E giving it the edge – the most Ford can offer Sir David Attenborough is a mild hybrid model – but after spending a weekend with the nation’s favourite (the car that is, not the Blue Planet presenter), I reckon there’s more to it.
The Corsa I ended up with, let’s be candid, wasn’t some miserable poverty-spec model that comes in at anywhere near its kickoff price of just over £17,000 – mine was the Elite Nav model, which was one down from the range-topping Ultimate model, and came with cruise control, parking cameras and, as the name suggests, satnav thrown in. Nor was it the electric-only model – nope, this one came with a very 20thcentury-esque 1.2-litre petrol engine, good for 100bhp and allied to six, manually-selected gears.
It also arrived in retina-searingly bright Power Orange, which made it look like it should have been driven by an unfortunate Easyjet employee forced to do so by his fleet manager, but aside from that I reckon it’s better-looking than the Fiesta. Inside it feels more substantially built, too, and on the road it feels streets ahead of, and more grown-up than, the Corsa it replaced. If you’d have asked me two years ago which supermini to go for I’d have said the Fiesta in a heartbeat – and plenty of you agreed, if the sales figures at the time were anything to go by – but now it’s not so clear-cut.
But I wouldn’t have one, for one simple reason – the seats. Maybe you’ll plump your posterior onto the Corsa’s throne and enjoy every minute of it, but I did nearly 300 miles of mostly motorway driving, and found that no matter how much I adjusted the driving position, it wasn’t especially comfortable – and it’s not the first Vauxhall I’ve encountered that with. The outgoing Astra was exactly the same, feeling particularly hard on your lower back on longer stints.
So perhaps the chap in Ford’s sales department isn’t looking overjoyed, but I suspect his counterpart at Vauxhall’s seat design bureau might have his day a bit better. Don’t buy the Corsa or the Fiesta on the basis of a ten-minute test drive. They’re both brilliant, but make sure you give them a proper, extended drive before taking the plunge.
Your buttocks will thank you for it.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly