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
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
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