Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


Opel Corsa brings back more of German brand’s feel-good factor

Attractive hatchback ready to take the fight to more affordable offerings from Asia.


The Citizen Motoring won’t beat around bush and straight of the bat address the lingering question around the updated Opel Corsa. Can the hatchback return to the dizzy heights it enjoyed locally in the past?

A very complicated answer leans heavily towards no. It’s a great car and a proud ambassador for an iconic nameplate that has enjoyed global sales of almost 15 million in its 42-year history. But on the other hand, it will pay the price for internal commotion and the revolution of more cost-effective options from Asia.

As the sixth generation of the Opel Corsa neared completion in 2017, PSA Group acquired the German brand from General Motors. A redesign sees it share a platform with stable mates like the Peugeot 208 and Citroen C3 Aircross.

Opel Corsa back on track

Opel then went through yet more changes at the turn of the decade as PSA Group and FCA merged to form the Stellantis group. During all of this, Covid struck resulting in South Africa having to wait for the new Opel Corsa until 2021.

It took a while for Stellantis, which sells the Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Jeep and Maserati brands locally, to get their ducks in a row in Mzansi. But the good news for loyal Opel fans is that after the initial teething problems the brand is now into its stride.

The updated Opel Corsa is a very appealing product, but like its Crossland, Mokka and Grandland siblings, is hampered by its sticker in a market that is more price sensitive than ever. Due to the influx of Chinese offerings at cut-throat prices – albeit SUVs – and the large number of local cars being manufactured in India, the Opel Corsa’s sales will sadly not reflect its potential.

ALSO READ: New Opel Corsa on rocky road to relive glory days

Three derivatives

The model range again consist of three derivatives with the entry-level Lite and mid-spec Edition being carried over. The flagship Elegance is replaced by the GT Line, which price of R459 900 is going to be its biggest sticking point.

Opel Corsa GS Line
The Opel Corsa GS Line rides on 16-inch alloy wheels. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Before you start freaking out that a car you once owned on a shoestring budget as student is now closing in on half a bar, it has evolved into something much than a mere entry-level hatch.

For starters, it looks fantastic. The Opel Corsa now features the distinctive Vizor grille also seen on the Crossland, Mokka and Grandland, along with LED headlights, LED front fog lights (Edition and GS Line), LED taillights (GS Line), new alloy wheels and blacked-out rear Opel badging.

ALSO READ: Old South African favourite Opel Corsa Lite returns

New colour a head-turner

GS Line models feature a black two-tone roof along with black gloss rear spoiler and B-pillar. While this combination works a charm on all six colour palettes, it does looks extremely nice on the new hue called Grafik Grey.

Inside, the Edition and GS Line benefits from a 7-inch digital cluster and six-speaker 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Reserved for the GS Line are a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth and leatherette seat trim, heated front seats and electronic climate control.

Safety spec in the for of ABS with EDB and EBA, six airbags, hill-start assist and electronic stability programme is standard across the range, with the Edition getting front and rear park assist and reverse camera. The GS Line features a whole set of additional safety systems like lane keep assist.

Opel Corsa cabin
The GS Line features cloth and leatherette trim. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Packing a punch

The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is available in two states of tune in the Opel Corsa. Paired to six-speed automatic gearbox in the GS Line, it makes 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque. The mill in the other two derivatives makes 74kW/205Nm. This goes to the front wheels via six-speed manual transmission.

Opel claims the GS Line will sip 6.3L/100km on a combined cycle and the other derivatives 5.7L/100km.

ALSO READ: Sharpened-up Opel Corsa on its way to South Africa

After-sales promise

Part of our launch drive around Gauteng this week included a stop at Stellantis’ parts warehouse in Rosslyn, Pretoria, operated by logistics partner DSV. The facility is key to the company’s after-sales promise that it will not take longer than 48 hours to source parts to any Stellantis dealership countrywide. As service it deems as important as the product itself.

While there is nothing new to report in how the Opel Corsa drives, we can reaffirm that it is big on the feel-good factor. Having only had the chance to drive the GS Line, the engine is very punchy, with good steering feedback and solid suspension adding to the drive.

And in that regard, the updated Opel Corsa manages to raise your inner driver’s heartbeat in the way the brand’s iconic models once did.

Opel Corsa pricing

  • Lite 1.2T MT R374 900
  • Edition 1.2T MT R394 900
  • GS Line 1.2T AT R459 900

Pricing includes three-year/45 000km service plan and five-year/100 000km warranty.

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