28 Jul 20

Test drive Opel Corsa-e: above-average car for the average driver

The all-electric Opel/Vauxhall Corsa-e is part of the wave of electric cars that bring electric mobility within reach of the average consumer. If you fit that bill, it should even bring you within range of your destination.

What is it?

The Corsa-e is the regular Corsa’s electric variant, and both are very closely related to the Peugeot 208. As per the PSA family’s market positioning, the e-208 delivers a somewhat more playful driving experience, but that’s not saying the e-Corsa is a boring car.

The two-tone orange and black paint job helps it stand out and the colours suit it well. Apart from this colour scheme, some e-badges and the absence of tailpipes, there’s little to give away the green credentials of the Corsa-e.

How much does it cost?

Prices start around €30,000 or about twice as much as the petrol-powered variants. But don’t compare pears to oranges: electric cars require less maintenance so you’ll save money on that. Taxes are lower on electric cars and many countries have incentives in place. Importantly, charging electricity is less expensive than putting petrol or diesel in a car.

There’s also the environmental aspect, and the look-what-we’re-doing-for-the-environment aspect, which is probably priceless.

How far does it go?

In theory, the Corsa-e can take you to a destination 337km away, but that’s an optimistic range. Real-life range can easily be 100km less, depending on your driving style.

Nevertheless, the little Opel/Vauxhall compares favourably to the trendier likes of the Mini Electric or the Honda e, being equipped with a 50kWh-battery pack and an electric motor with an output of 260Nm/136hp.

You can charge it up to 80% in just 30 minutes, provided you find a fast charger. Today, most public chargers in our cities are still of the slower kind, meaning they can easily spend up to twelve hours charging the batteries. So forget about going electric if you don’t have a decent charger at the office or at home.

What’s it like inside?

The inside hardly looks different from the other Corsas. You won’t be lost in an exotic driving cabin and you won’t feel overwhelmed, like you need a three-year university degree to figure the user interface out, as is the case with some of the premium Germans.

Some will call the interior bland but it is well laid out and well put together. Importantly, the Corsa-e still has physical climate control buttons, which its funkier brother e-208 is missing in lieu of a touchscreen menu only approach.

The batteries take up some room, making the boot smaller than that of non-electric Corsas, but it can still hold 267 litres of baggage compared to 309 litres if you go petrol or diesel.

Headroom and legroom for the rear passengers is acceptable but not brilliant. But you’ll need to take a long break every 300km anyway, so people in the back should be all right.

What’s it like to drive?

As is typical for electric cars, acceleration is instantaneous, although it does appear to plateau when you reach 90km/h or so. Hitting 50km/h only takes 2.8 seconds, and it is guaranteed to put a small on your face each time. Reaching 100km/h takes 8.1 seconds. A hot hatch it isn’t, but it gets close.

Switching the car from D to B activates one-pedal driving. If you keep it in good old D, lifting off the throttle won’t slow the car down enough for the brake lights to go on and you will need to push the brake pedal yourself. But that’s a good thing: there’s no learning curve when getting behind the wheel of this car.

The Corsa-e’s top speed is capped at 150km/h – don’t ask how we found out. On today’s roads, strewn with speed cameras, that’s another way this electric Corsa can help you save money.

How usable is it in practice?

The average European commuter travels less than 30km per day. If that’s you and if you rarely go on longer trips, this Corsa-e should be an enjoyable, fun daily driver. And yes, you should get it in the launch colours.

Images: Opel

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck