The Corsa is a supermini introduced by General Motors’ European subsidiary Opel in 1983 and produced until today. It has also been sold under a variety of other brands (most notably Vauxhall, Chevrolet and Holden) and names and spawned various derivatives in different markets, all of which are listed in appropriate sections below.Despite its global presence, it has never been sold in the United States or Canada.
The Corsa has been built at GM’s plant in Zaragoza in Spain, and also in countries like Germany (Eisenach Plant), Argentina (Rosario), Brazil (São Caetano do Sul and São José dos Campos), Mexico (Ramos Arizpe), South Africa (Port Elizabeth), India (Halol), and China (Shanghai).
Vauxhall Corsa A
The front-wheel drive Corsa was first launched in 1983 to replace the Vauxhall Chevette in the UK and to introduce a smaller model below the Kadett in the rest of Europe. Built in Zaragoza, Spain, the first Corsas were three-door hatchback and two-door sedan models, with four-door and five-door versions arriving two years later. The basic model was called just the Corsa which was followed by Corsa Luxus, Corsa Berlina and the sporty Corsa SR. Two years later, the Corsa received a facelift, which included a new front fascia and some other minor changes. The models were called Corsa LS, Corsa GL, Corsa GLS and Corsa GT. It was known in the UK market as the Vauxhall Nova. The car became best known in the UK as a popular choice of car driving schools. Although many young British ’boy-racers’ and ’Chavs’ customised or ’souped up’ their models (and continue to do so to this day), the Nova was usually seen as dull. Power came from 1.0 L, 1.2 L, 1.3 L, and 1.4 L gasoline engines which were short on performance but strong on economy. There was also a 1.5 L diesel engine available, which was also used in the Isuzu Gemini at around the same time. All of these engines were based on GM’s well proven Family II design with the exception of the 1.5 L diesel engine and 1.0 L engine, which was based on the OHV unit from the Kadett C. The engines and most of the mechanical components were derived from those used in the Astra/Kadett.
A 1.6 L multi-point fuel injected engine with 100 hp (74 kW) and capable of 186 km/h (115 mph) was later added to the Corsa/Nova, giving decent performance and being badged as a GSi or, in Britain, GTE (only pre-facelift models, later models were all called GSi). An 82 hp 1.4 L multi-point fuel injected model became also available as SRi, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi. The car’s handling was still criticized and the styling called dull. There were also numerous reports of single-vehicle rollover accidents that called the handling into question.
The design was freshened in 1990 with new bumpers, front lights and grille and with a new interior, but the car was showing its age against strong competition from cars like the Renault Clio and Peugeot 106.
In the UK it has developed a cult following amongst enthusiasts because of the simplicity of modification. Popular modifications include C20 XE and C20 LET engine conversions, which create reasonably quick cars, quite cheaply, which are ideal for hil climbs and track days. There are several clubs which provide users with good sources of information on maintaining and modifying.
Famous former owners include Colin McRae, Russel Underhill and Sean Bean.
The Vauxhall Nova was produced by General Motors between 1983 and 1993. It replaced the Vauxhall Chevette and Opel Kadett City. All Nova and Corsa models were made in Spain.
Sales in the UK were strong right up to the end, but by the time the last Nova was made in early 1993, it was looking very dated in comparison to more modern rivals like the Peugeot 106 and Renault Clio. Its successor was the Corsa, which was the first Vauxhall to adopt the continental Opel badge. By 1996, the whole Vauxhall and Opel ranges were identically badged.
A clever TV advert in 1986 featured the Los Lobos hit La Bamba playing in the background as trick computer technology allowed the Nova to drive over vehicles in a busy city.
In 1993, a curvier, more attractive, Corsa was unveiled, and in the UK, Vauxhall dropped the Nova name, the car now being known as the Corsa in the UK. The next year, it was launched by Holden in Australia, as the Barina replacing a version of the Suzuki Swift sold under that name. This proved a success, and was the first Spanish-built car to be sold in significant volumes on the Australian market.
Power came from 1.2 L Family 0, 1.4 L and 1.6 L Family 1 gasoline engines, as well as an economical 1.5 L turbodiesel engine. Unlike the previous model, there was no sedan version, but one was designed in Brazil for the Latin American market, as sedans were much preferred to hatchbacks. This was also introduced in South Africa and India. A station wagon, panel van and pick-up truck were also introduced. The wagon version was sold in some European markets, including Italy, badged as an Opel. The Corsa also spawned a small coupé called Opel Tigra.
A 1.0 L 3-cylinder Family 0 economy version was launched in 1996, and a Lotus-tuned suspension was added as well as an exterior refresh. Strong competition came from new models like the Peugeot 206, Fiat Punto and Škoda Fabia.
The sedan model is still built and sold in Brazil as the Chevrolet Classic, and Chevrolet Corsa Classic in Argentina. A budget version, the Chevrolet Celta, has bodywork resembling the late 1990s Vectra and Astra. Mexico has their version of the hatchback and sedan, known as the Chevy C2, which is also sold in Colombia.
The sedan and wagon versions were produced in China by GM Shanghai as Buick Sail and Buick Sail S-RV, respectively, until 2005. In 2005, they became known as the Chevrolet Sail and SRV. In September 2006, Chile will be the first country outside China to receive the Chinese-assembled Sail; it will be called Chevrolet Corsa Plus, available as a four-door sedan version, with a 1.6 L 92 hp engine including double front airbags, ABS brakes, air conditioning, power windows and central lock as standard equipment.
In India, the hatchback and wagon versions were sold as the Corsa Sail and Corsa Swing respectively until the end of 2005. The hatchback model is also still produced, and extensively marketed in South Africa as the Corsa Lite and Corsa Lite Plus.
Names and markets
Opel Corsa - Europe (except for UK)
Vauxhall Corsa - United Kingdom
Holden Barina - Australia, New Zealand (has just been replaced by Daewoo Kalos)
Chevrolet Corsa - Latin America
Chevrolet Classic - South America (after the launch of new Corsa)
Chevrolet Corsa Plus - Chinese-assembled Corsa sold in Chile
Vauxhall Corsa Lite - South Africa (after the launch of new Corsa)
The Corsa C was introduced in 2000, with distinctive styling for the three-door and five-door hatchbacks. General Motors dubbed the new chassis Gamma and intended to use it in a number of other models.
A sedan version is also offered in Latin America, South Africa and the Middle East. The Brazilian version of the Corsa sold in those countries has a distinctive front end, more conservative than its European counterpart. Brazil also offers a pickup truck version of the Corsa named the Chevrolet Montana (sold in some markets as Tornado), which, as well as the sedan, is exported in completely knocked down (CKD) form to South Africa for local assembly. In South Africa, the hatchback is known simply as The New Corsa and the pickup version, as the Utility.
2005 Chevrolet Corsa
The 1.0 L, 1.2 L and 1.4 L gasoline engines are carryovers from the Corsa B, but the 1.7 L Circle L turbodiesel and 1.8 L gasoline engines are both new. In 2002, the Corsa chassis spawned a mini MPV called the Opel Meriva, development of which began under Opel in Rüsselsheim but finished by Chevrolet in Brazil. An Vauxhall Corsa is also used in the "Lights Motors Action!" extreme stunt show at Disney MGM Studios.
In Australia and New Zealand, the Corsa C was dropped in December 2005 as a cost cutting mesure by GM Holden, and was replaced by the Chevrolet Kalos, which has become the new Holden Barina.
Names and markets
Opel Corsa - India, Europe (except for UK), South Africa, Egypt, Hong Kong
A new version of the Gamma platform has been co developed by Fiat and Opel. It will be used by the 2006 Fiat Grande Punto (a stretched version of the Fiat Punto), 2007 Vauxhall Corsa and future versions of Lancia Ypsilon and Fiat Idea. GM Daewoo will take responsibility for future development of the Gamma platform, so the production of the future Corsa might be outsourced to South Korea as well. The first official pictures of the 2007 Corsa were released by Opel in May 2006. Based on the photos of the Corsa, it is very likely that the 3-door and 5-door versions will remain. This car will also be sold as a Vauxhall in the UK.
This version will be sold as a Chevrolet Corsa in South America, and possibly a Holde Corsa in Pacific Rim markets.
The Japanese name for the car, Opel Vita, inspired the character Vita from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s.
At an early stage of the New Corsa’s development, a designer was dared to work an image of a shark into the interior. He managed to hide it so well (on the hinge of the glove compartment) that it was never removed and will feature on all production models!