None of its obvious competitors

- Ford Tracer, Mazda Sting, Toyota Conquest Tazz and VW CitiGolf Chico -

are similarly configured, all having more practical five-door bodies. When it

comes to alternatives, only the Sting comes in four-door saloon guise, and for

the same money as the hatch. But having just a three-door on offer creates another

limitation, and some general customer research convinced Delta that there is

market potential for a conventional saloon, and so it has introduced a Lite

version of the Corsa Classic to answer that need.

The new model is part of a revised line-up, known as Generation 2001. Some

spec changes have been carried out, including power-steering and air-con as

standard on all Corsa hatches and Corsa Classic saloons except for Lite derivatives.

Engine size badging nomenclature is now the same as Astra (eg 1,4i in place

of 140i), and upmarket saloons follow Astra Classic with CD and CDE monikers

denoting spec level. Three-door Corsas continue with S and GSi titles. A series

of limited production models will supplement the range, starting with a top-spec

Classic CDX.

On first acquaintance, the Lite does not have a bare-bones persona, befitting

the fact that it is not on offer at the cheap end of the bargain basement. At

around R65 000, though, it still falls inside the affordable category, and is

by far a more modern overall design than the quartet of rivals listed earlier.

Pity, then, that Delta has not come up with a smarter wheel trim: the carryover

black hubcap is unattractively pimply, and exacerbated by the Classic's

body-colour bumpers and wheelarch extensions. (The three-door Lite retains the

black grained bumpers and extensions, which are less prone to showing nicks

and blemishes.) Wheels aside then, from the outside the Corsa looks attractive,

with a new Lite badge (not a flat decal) on the front doors.

Inside, it is all Corsa familiar and friendly. A new woven cloth trim called

Eisenach, and a slightly revised three-spoke steering wheel (both shared with

the three-door) distinguish 2001 Lites from previous model years. Two things

have not changed: the relative narrowness of the cabin (although it is not as

tight as a CitiGolf), and the high and tilted position of the steering wheel.

The former is only inhibiting when a complement of four adults occupy the seats

-- three in the back is not a realistic prospect - but most parent/child

families will be happy enough inside.

As for the rake of the wheel, it depends on the driver's size and, consequently,

seating position whether or not the angle feels awkward.

Larger Corsa drivers will probably be thinking, "Ah, but what about

the cramped pedal area?" Well, the good news is that during the past

18 months Delta has been doing a lot of intensive development on fine-tuning

Corsa, including answering criticism of footwell room. The panelling and carpeting

around the accelerator have been (expensively) modified to realise more space

with the result that, without knowing of the changes, none of CAR's testers

saw fit to complain after a stint behind the wheel. In discussion, the fact

that something was felt to be different is significant.

For a long time now, Opel has produced facia designs that may not turn any

automotive style councils into raptures, but there can be no questioning the

simple logic and clarity of the instruments and controls. User-friendly is a

genuine accolade. And in fairness, the white-on-turquoise dial faces for the

speedo, fuel and temp gauges do add a fun element.

The spec level is basic, but sufficient, and includes a single courtesy light

on the windscreen header rail, height-adjustable front head restraints, manual

remote exterior mirrors, fixed intermittent plus two speed wipers, heated rear

window, three passenger grab handles, a ticket flap on the driver's visor, and

black bodyside protection strips. There is a non-locking cubby plus numerous

shelves and trays located in the facia and consoles, and oddments bins in the

front doors.

Seat pad density is another aspect that Delta has been working on, and the

Classic Lite is comfortable enough for lengthy journeys. Front seat cushions

appear a little flat, but they are ample in length and provide a modicum of

lateral support. The rear seat backrest is conventionally split, but unusually

for a small car, the angle can be adjusted over a short range. The one-piece

cushion can be left in situ, or tipped forward if a flatter load floor is required.

The neatly upholstered boot has a 680 mm loading height and holds a useful

336 dm3 of our ISO-standard blocks. With the back seat down and taking cognisance

of the limiting bulkhead, utility space is measured at 978 dm3.

With 4,1 turns from lock to lock for a 10,1-metre turning circle, manoeuvring

the 4 026 mm long Classic Lite is easy enough. The basic 155-section tyres offer

minimal scrub resistance at parking speeds. At a quicker pace there is plenty

of grip, with gentle understeer setting in as the limits of adhesion are approached.

Although the steering is initially a tad sticky, turn-in is predictable.

This being an Opel, an absorbent ride is expected and we were not disappointed.

What did surprise us was the well-insulated cabin. Base cars are usually a bit

tinny, but the Classic Lite felt all of a piece with no rattles or squeaks,

and gave the impression of being quite refined.

Then there is the matter of performance. The Opel's Brazilian-sourced

(but locally tuned) 1400 engine is a winner. The ability to accelerate from

zero to 100 km/h in less than 12 seconds ensures that the Lite will not be embarrassed

in traffic: there are 1600s that cannot match the Corsa's sprightlyness.

Cruising ability is correspondingly good. Its 0,33 drag coefficient contrasting

favourably with the three-door Lite's 0,35, the slightly heavier but

more aerodynamically efficient saloon compensates for being slower off the mark

by having a higher top speed. Fuel economy is not brilliant, but most owners

will better our fuel index of 9,42 litres/100 km in general use. This figure

is on par with most other models in its class.

Original article from Car