Saturday 18 November 2017

You'll have to go 'extra' mile to get right spec for your Corsa

The Opel Corsa: No bigger but drives much better.
The Opel Corsa: No bigger but drives much better.
Up-front change: The Corsa's cabin is much improved but the displays are cluttered
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Car makers can overdo it sometimes in their boasts about the 'awesome' stuff they have in their vehicles. The thing is, it is usually only in the high or top-spec versions - and not standard as you might think. So it can cost a good deal extra.

Of course they should highlight their breakthrough, new wares. Absolutely. But some have become disingenuous, frankly, and can give the impression their wonderful equipment comes in every model - when it doesn't.

It builds expectations that can't be fulfilled for those budgeting on buying entry-price or lower-trim versions.

So when you hear, or see, an ad extolling the virtues of the latest advances, you can take it as read that you will have to pay a fair bit more than the entry-level price in the vast majority of cases.

It is all about the carmaker getting and whetting your interest with a low starting price. If that price is 'in the ballpark' of what you intend spending then the strategy works - because when you're looking, there is a chance you'll stay.

And if you stay there is a good chance you will buy something with a bit more equipment or add a few optional extras. That is the psychology of the game.

I just thought I'd bring it to your notice because it can be confusing for buyers, many of whom have complained to me recently that they ended up paying much more for 'extras' and delivery charges than they expected.

In fairness, more distributors are making their delivery costs crystal clear now. Maybe they will soon do the same on the price/equipment front? The core point is: it is better to know.

For example this week's review car, the 'new' Opel Corsa carries a €700 delivery charge. You may not like it but at least you know where you stand. It's upfront. And in fairness to Opel, they make their equipment/price/trim levels fairly clear too.

I do think, however, they missed a trick by not having their IntelliLink infotainment system on board the Corsa as standard across the range.

This includes a 7ins touchscreen and apps such as BringGo, Stitcher and TuneIn. It's most likely down to the cost (a reasonable €350 extra) possibly pushing the 'ballpark' price outside the 'fishing net' of potential buyers.

I'm not a big fan of the system, but it is improving all the time, and I think it is well priced at €350. I can see a lot of people opting to add it on. Expect an even better system later on in the year, by the way.

They have certainly rung the changes with this latest Corsa, though this is not 'all new' (another liberty some take with language to describe a heavily-updated version).

Opel have changed a lot of elements, especially up the front. For example, you get a new front suspension. The whole front look is changed too.

And there is a new 1-litre petrol engine, while others have had major revisions - my 1.4-litre petrol remains the staple diet. They have reworked the rear suspension as well; the car drives better as a result.

There's a new steering set-up too but I definitely wanted more feel-and-feedback from it.

The big changes for me came is the much-improved cabin. I had a decent driving position and there was a better quality feel and look to the materials. Probably the biggest improvement was noticeable by its near-absence: engine, road, tyre noise have been reduced.

My other quibble was with the small and cluttered lettering on the instrument displays. Do we really need to know how long a life the oil has, as a core piece of information? I'd rather have three/four key elements clearly shown. Room for improvement there.

Elsewhere they've done a good job on the gear change while my 1.4-litre engine had plenty of power; it came across nice and lively in lots of city driving.

The Corsa remains 4.02 metres long; research showed people didn't want it any bigger. For all that it was roomy enough with a reasonable boot.

Now, I know I usually only talk about 5dr versions of these superminis but for the young and young-at-heart might I draw your attention to the 3dr? It looks a smarter and sharper package.

In either guise it's fair to say the Corsa has improved a lot. It has had to. The competition is ferocious. And it is going to intensify as differences between cars narrow. That's why we need to be so clear from the outset on what exactly we are getting for our money.

Facts and figures: Corsa 5dr Excite

1.4i EcoFLEX petrol (90bhp, 5.2l/100kms, 120g/km, €200 road tax).

Price, excluding options on my test car, is €16,495.

Prices for the Corsa range start at €14,895 for the 1.2-litre (70bhp) 3dr petrol. There is a €700 delivery/related charge.

Equipment on my car included cruise control, hill-start assist, six airbags, CD/MP3 player/stereo radio and aux-in socket, electric door mirror, front electric windows, 16ins 8-spoke alloys, front fogs, Bluetooth connectivity, USB connection with iPod control, steering wheel mounted audio controls.

Options on my test car included a winter pack (€395), the IntelliLink infotainment system (€350), metallic paint (€550), an electrically operated Panorama sunroof (€961), bi-xenon headlamps (with cornering lights) €600 and front/rear park assist (€420).

My side of the road

I've been driving at dusk a lot of late and I am now convinced there is a real crisis out there.

Pedestrians, virtually all in dark clothes, see nothing wrong with crossing busy roads in the blackness of evening. I'm convinced they believe they are clearly visible. Otherwise why would they act the way they do?

No sensible or rational person would step out on to a road in fading light. I'm sorry to put it that bluntly and I certainly do not want to tar all pedestrians with the same brush. But there has been a massive, and I mean massive, number of instances where even my passengers inhaled sharply at what was unfolding at the limits of my dipped-beam headlights.

You can't expect to dart across urban roads in fashionable black suits and coats and not risk being knocked down.

I consider this so serious now I'm going to appeal to the RSA to treat it as a crisis. Yes, it is that bad. What do you think?

ecunningham@independent.ie

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