Opel has taken the opportunity of a range-wide refresh and facelift of the Corsa supermini hatchback to upgrade the flagship Electric model. Now featuring a bigger battery pack for greater one-shot driving range and a more powerful electric motor for improved performance, the smart-looking Corsa Electric promises to be a strong contender in the affordable, zero-emissions marketplace. If you can get hold of one...
In the metal
Opel's Corsa has never been the showiest of superminis but, for some, that'll be a big part of its appeal. By the same token, neither has this generation of Corsa ever been anything but nicely handsome, with chiselled, clean looks and good proportions. For 2024 it has finally, like every other Opel model in the range, received the 'Vizor' corporate front-end styling. This is essentially a smooth panel situated between its now-all-LED headlights, which also feature the horizontal-line daytime running lamps within them. As with all facelifts, there are new alloy wheel designs, additional paint colours and subtly altered badging here and there, but in essence the tidying-up of the Corsa Electric's nose has worked well.
Inside, every model now benefits from a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is augmented with over-the-air software updating capabilities, while the seven-inch digital driver's cluster is also standard-fit on all Corsas. True, this latter item doesn't look as nice or as advanced as the 3D system in the related Peugeot E-208, but it works well enough and displays its crucial information concisely. Wireless smartphone charging and wireless connection of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are drafted in to keep the tech-heads happy, while there are new upholsteries and trim finishes, plus a different centre boss for the steering wheel which has a lateral ridge across it - this is supposed to remind you of the Vizor grille at the front of the car.
It's a nice place to be, inside the Corsa Electric, and higher-grade models get decent AGR-approved seats too, but the dashboard design is still pretty staid. The E-208 again trumps the Opel here, as its cabin is far more visually interesting than the flat, largely monochrome surfaces of the Corsa's interior. Sure, it's all bolted together well inside, but it'd be nice if Opel would just push the boat out a bit when it comes to cabin aesthetics.
There's also a practicality hit, which is the usual electric v ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) lament in that the boot is smaller on this Corsa Electric than it is on the petrol models. You get 267 litres here with all seats in use, rising to 1,081 litres with the rear row folded away, compared to 309-1,118 litres for the equivalent petrol car. At least rear-seat passenger space is the same in any Corsa, regardless of what's powering it, which is to say that it is adequate for this size of vehicle.
Opel calls this new electric powertrain the Long Range, for reasons which will become immediately obvious. Joining the Corsa Electric line-up alongside the pre-existing 100kW (136hp) model with the 46kWh (net capacity) battery pack, the new car has the familiar zero-emissions drivetrain which is making its way throughout any number of Stellantis electric vehicles (EVs) right now. That means a 115kW (156hp) motor, with a 51kWh battery. This increases the range of the car from 357km previously to 396km here (hence the 'Long Range' thing), while also trimming the 0-100km/h run from 8.9 seconds down to 8.2 seconds. Maximum torque is unchanged at 260Nm.
Charging times are broadly the same as they were before, although the Corsa Electric now has 11kW AC maximum capability, which results in a 0-100 per cent top-up of the battery in five hours and 15 minutes. On typical 7.4kW domestic chargers, you'll be looking at more like approaching seven hours for the same charging process. For DC rapid connections, the new Long Range Corsa Electric retains the 100kW maximum charging speed, so Opel says a 0-80 per cent charge will take a shade less than 30 minutes if you can find the right public unit. For our last point on the electrical systems, Opel is also quoting greater efficiency from the electric motor, saying the Long Range achieves as low as 12.9kWh/100km.
So you've got an additional 20hp and 39km of range to play with - how does that change the Corsa Electric's driving experience as a Long Range? Well, it's not exactly transformative, but then that's no bad thing. As compact EVs go, the Opel Corsa is a pleasant operator. It has surprisingly engaging steering, for example, especially in Sport mode where it weights up in a decent fashion, and there's good body control too, which makes it quite enjoyable to drive. But if you test it back-to-back with a petrol Corsa, you'll notice (mostly when you're braking) the car's extra weight - the Electric Long Range is anything from 311- to 434kg portlier than the internal-combustion-powered cars. That's like driving a petrol version with three big passengers in it, all the time.
There's also a feature on the Corsa Electric Long Range which we've seen on other Stellantis EVs with this 115kW/51kWh powertrain, which is that - in order to access the headline 156hp and 260Nm outputs - you need the car in Sport mode. If you run it in Normal, the figures drop to 109hp and 220Nm, while in Eco there are even greater reductions to 82hp and 180Nm as the car attempts to eke every last electrical drop out of its 51 usable kWh.
Kudos to Opel's engineers, though, as they've managed to make the accelerator feel acceptably well graded in Eco mode, with none of the horrid fuzziness you usually get from such settings; however, the car defaults to Normal every time you get in it so if you're not paying attention and forget to switch it into Sport, it doesn't feel any sprightlier than the 100kW Corsa Electric, and it's not ridiculously quick even with 156hp coursing through its front tyres. Naturally, a city-biased electric supermini doesn't need to do 0-100km/h in sub-four-seconds, but if Opel hadn't told us that the 0-100km/h time had been significantly reduced with the new motor, we would never have guessed at such a thing ourselves.
Yet that's no drama, because the way everything is calibrated on the Corsa Electric Long Range - the steering, the delivery of the power reserves, the brakes - is all nicely in balance, while traction and grip seem good. Even in slippery conditions with the traction control momentarily disabled (it reapplies itself automatically once a certain speed is surpassed), the Opel didn't scrabble when putting its full power down, while torque-steer seems largely absent from proceedings.
And the overall refinement of the car is also very good. Tyre roar on 17-inch alloys on our test vehicle was noticeable on poorer road surfaces but not horrendous, while wind noise blustering about the glasshouse was admirably suppressed. The suspension is also as quiet as it is smooth, so the ride quality in the Corsa Electric is most agreeable. All in all, it's a nicely polished electric runaround that you'd primarily buy because you need its added range - the enhanced performance of this drivetrain is not as discernible over and above the 100kW model, if we're honest.
What you get for your money
We can't give you details here just yet, as Opel Ireland hasn't yet priced the revised Corsa Electric, probably because supply of the model for 2024 is known to be tight. However, we do know that the facelifted petrol models kick off at €23,995 and rise to €29,595. We'd expect the Corsa Electric Long Range to follow the SC, Elegance and GS trim hierarchy of other Opel models right now, while - looking to the related Peugeot E-208 line-up - those cars start at around €32,000 and rise to €35,995. We're thinking that, with the SEAI grant and applicable VRT relief factored in, the Corsa Electric will be in roughly the same ballpark, but Opel is expected to keep the 100kW model going alongside the new version, which means you might still be able to get in a facelifted Corsa Electric for less than €30,000. We'll keep you updated as we know more.
A set of carefully considered and, in the case of the enhanced one-shot driving range figure, most useful updates are applied to the Opel Corsa Electric, all of which add up to a car with increased appeal. Much of its success will depend on how it is priced here, and there's also a phalanx of deeply desirable, talented rivals on the way that could outmanoeuvre it - such as the incoming MINI Cooper Electric, the Citroen E-C3 and the Renault 5 EV. But they are worries for another day, in all honesty. Right now, along with the related Peugeot E-208, you can't do much better than the Opel Corsa Electric Long Range if you want a compact, reasonably affordable electric runaround.