The first generation Opel Corsa van was sold between 2001 – 2006 and was part of the micro van movement that took everyone by surprise. The Corsa van competed against similar models such as Ford Fiesta van, Peugeot 206 van and Renault Clio van, all of them being based on regular passenger hatchbacks.
At the launch, the Opel Corsa van was available with three engines including 1.2 liter petrol, 1.4 liter petrol and a 1.7 diesel unit, but in the end the smaller petrol units were ditched in favor of the 1.7 liter diesel.
With a starting price of $ 16.000, the Opel Corsa van was aimed at small business owners who looked for a compact and practical van which offers low fuel consumption and cheap costs of ownership.
The old Opel Corsa van won’t win you any beauty awards as it looks dull without any touch of sportiness. The overall design was pretty clean with curved shapes rounded headlights. Up front there was a thin radiator grille which bared the company’s logo in its center, while the main lights had a modest petal shape design.
The bumper continued the same dull design found at the rest of the vehicle and was fitted with a longitudinal air intake. As most cars of its ilk, the Corsa van’s rear windows were replaced with a clean piece of sheet-metal which was better suited for rugged, utilitarian purposes.
Around the back, there are vertically placed taillights and a roof hinged door which offers easy access to the load area.
Talking about the load area, it measures 1,245 mm in length, 1,277mm in width and 857mm in height, being able to accommodate 1.06 cubic metres of cargo.
The cargo area is separated by the passengers’ seats by a half height bulkhead, while the load floor is covered in rubber to absorb the shocks, hence offering extra protection.
The Opel Corsa van has a maximum payload of only 495kg, which is far from being impressive, but it’s enough for carrying dogs, small items or other light loads.
On the inside, the Opel Corsa van feels pretty cramped as it lacks proper leg and leg room. The dashboard features a rudimentary design, but despite its dull appearance, it’s pretty practical and it’s not intrusive. The center console is laid out in a conventional way, so you won’t have any complains about it, as all controls are placed within easy reach.
As most vehicles of its ilk, the Corsa’s material used for the dash and doors is hard, cheap-feeling textured plastic that sounds hollow when tapped with a finger. At least the sound isolation is pretty well done and wind noise won’t enter the cabin like it owns the place.
The seats are at par with the other micro vans found in the segment, which means they are firm and offer only basic support. There are however, a few key adjustments to help you find a decent driving position. The road visibility isn’t something to rave about, but it’s pretty decent and the external mirrors are able to offer a good rear visibility.
There are more storage places than expected and the van was also available with an interesting list of goodies such as CD player, pollen filter or electric windows.
Engines and performance
The 1.7 diesel engine developed 65 hp @ 4400 rpm with a peak torque of 130 Nm @ 2000 rpm. These figures are far from being impressive, but the engine coped well with the small weight of the van and managed to offer decent performances even when the vehicle was fully loaded.
The engine however, felt slightly underpowered when it needed to deal with uphill sections, but around town was fairly nimble and agile.
The 1.7 diesel was mated on a five speed gearbox, which offered a pretty decent feel and didn’t as felt rubbery as other units in the class.
Opel Corsa van Engine Specifications
| Engine || hp @ rpm || Nm @ rpm|| Fuel |
| 1.7 liter || 65 @ 4400 ||130 @ 2000 || Diesel|
Ride and handling
Up front, the Opel Corsa van was fitted with a typical Macpherson strut configuration, while at the back it came with mini block springs. Thanks to its passenger car origins, the van is a joy to be driven around town, as it has a well composed ride with great cornering abilities.
The body balance its also part of the first class and the ride and handling are among the best you’ll find in this segment.
The rack and pinion steering was a bit too light, but it was nicely weighted and offered a sharp response at both low and high speeds. The stopping power was average with discs at the front and drums at the rear.
The car-derived van sector is a special breed of commercial vehicles and the most common question that stays on many lips is if the same attributes that make a good passenger car can be applied for a good van. Well, in most cases the answer is a big “Yes” and the old Corsa van was able to make a compelling case for itself.
Leaving apart its limited cargo volume, the van offered decent interior comfort and super efficient engines, which were able to deal well with the necessities of a micro van.
The ride and handling were among the best you’d find at that time and the vehicle was also super efficient and required minimum costs of ownership.