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LITTLE opel WITH A BIG HEART is ON CORSA for greater success with sleek new look

I don't know what the German is for "all good things come in small packages", but maybe it should be the marketing catchphrase for the all-new Corsa.

You see, with more than 12.5 million satisfied customers spanning 33 years, the little city car is Opel's biggest seller and more than a firm favourite here.

It's therefore no real surprise that the design team in Russelsheim opted not to be too radical with the winning formula.

The basic dimensions have remained the same both in wheelbase and interior space as the outgoing generation.

What the boffins did concentrate on was improving the engines, the drive dynamic and the quality of the cabin.

The last mentioned is especially noticeable with high-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces in the cabin.

The cockpit itself wouldn't look out of place in a mid-range model with the clocks and dials getting a very clinical, Germanic look to them.

Thankfully, Opel didn't make the same mistake as Peugeot by putting the aircon/heating controls into the touch-screen infotainment system, meaning you won't be feverishly stabbing it to get warm or indeed cool down.

What will get your temperature rising is the overall design which is much more aggressive and upmarket, particularly in the top-end models complete with xenon headlamps.

There are four trims on offer - S, Excite, SE and the sporty Limited Edition. Standard kit on the entry model includes hill start assist, while the Excite range (which will be the preferred Irish option)comes with 16-inch alloys, front foglights, Bluetooth, USB connection with iPod control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, LED daytime running lights and a leather steering wheel.

There is a choice of three petrols - a 1.2, 1.4 and a 1.0 litre turbo generating 70, 90 and 115bhp respectively.

One diesel comes in the guise of the 1.3CDTi with 75 or 95bhp with CO2 emissions of only 85g/km while returning 88mpg (3.2 l/100km). We tested the entry level 1.4 petrol which is pretty frugal too and costs €200 a year to tax.

Our test car came with some very welcome extras such as heated seats and heated steering wheel which proved a godsend on these chilly mornings.

Drive-wise, the Corsa wasn't as hot as we would have liked and lacked the nippiness of cheaper rivals such as the Skoda Fabia.

The steering was a joy, though, and with the option of making it lighter with the flick of a button, parking even in cramped underground car parks was an absolute doddle.

The turbo-charged 1.0 litre engine is receiving rave reviews and by all accounts is the complete package.

It comes at a price, though, and at nearly 20 grand may prove too rich for most of us.

If you're happy to compromise on poke, those looking for a comfy, sturdy city car that'll turn heads, the cheaper 1.4 at €14,895 is the perfect choice.