After a quarter-century in the British market, Vauxhall’s evergreen Corsa returns in GSi guise, reinforcing the ‘performance through dynamics’ theme adopted by the recently-launched Insignia GSi.
Available to order now, the Corsa GSi takes the key chassis and design elements from the Corsa VXR model to create an agile and purposeful driver’s car, but with all the space and efficiency of the regular model.
The new Corsa GSi is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine with double overhead camshafts and a 16-valve cylinder head. The unit produces 150PS at 5,000rpm and 220Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-60mph takes just 8.4 seconds, with strong performance right through to its top speed of 129mph. Maximum torque is produced between 2,750 to 4,500rpm, and mated to a short-ratio six-speed gearbox, helps the GSi accelerate from 50-70mph in fifth gear in just 9.9 seconds.
While the standard outputs of Vauxhall’s 1.4 Turbo engine remain unchanged, for the GSi, boost pressure, fuel injection and timing have been subtly re-calibrated to allow the unit to breathe more freely, especially at higher revs. This allows more power to be maintained in the upper reaches of its performance.
In addition to delivering high performance, the Corsa GSi is also part of Vauxhall’s latest Euro 6d-TEMP rollout (fuel economy 47.1mpg combined, CO2 emissions from 138g/km).
The Corsa GSi’s chassis offers all the grip and poise that you’d expect from a set-up that previously underpinned the 210PS Corsa VXR.
Based on the less extreme, standard VXR chassis, the Corsa GSi’s 150PS of power is delivered to the front wheels via an open differential, but provides high levels of mechanical grip, combined with exceptional control at higher speeds.
Like the VXR, the GSi uses Koni’s Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) technology, which provides acceptable comfort for everyday use, but increased damping characteristics for more enthusiastic driving.
Compared with a conventional damper, which works by oil passing through a piston assembly, FSD adds a valve which controls a parallel flow of oil next to the piston. This secondary oil flow can therefore be closed off, giving a rise in damper force when conditions demand it.
Put simply, FSD is a hydraulic amplifier which can delay the build-up of pressure if required, achieving the best possible combination of handling and comfort, without the complexity and expense of a regular adaptive damper.
Completing the Corsa GSi’s dynamic package are optional 18-inch light-weight alloy wheels, with 215/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
The Corsa GSi uses the sporty three-door body, with a raft of exterior design cues to set it apart from the regular car. Large air intakes and a honeycomb grille dominate the front of the car, while deep sill extensions and carbon-look features adorn its flanks. At the rear, a deep rear spoiler not only defines the GSi aesthetically, but also provides downforce to hunker down the rear suspension at higher speeds. A chrome tailpipe and red-painted brake callipers complete the look.
Inside, sport seats allow drivers to sit low in the car, and close to the action. A leather sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals continue the GSi theme. And as with most other Corsas, the GSi comes with Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
RANGE, PRICING AND EQUIPMENT
Arriving in showrooms in September, Vauxhall’s new Corsa GSi is available to order now priced from £18,995 on-the-road. This makes it £250 less expensive than the Ford Fiesta ST1, £1,305 less than the Renault Clio Sport, and £2,525 less than the VW Polo GTi.
The Corsa GSi is also among the cheapest in its class to insure. With a rating of 20E, it beats the lesser-powered Suzuki Swift Sport, which is rated at insurance group 35D.
Standard GSi specification includes 17-inch bi-colour diamond-cut alloy wheels, GSi rear roof spoiler, sports front grille, GSi air dam/bumper and side sills. The GSi also gets dark tinted rear windows, carbon effect exterior mirrors and grille bar, and LED daytime running lights. Inside, sports-style front seats, a leather-covered flat-bottom steering wheel and IntelliLink infotainment, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, complete the package.
Priced at £1,900, a GSi Plus Pack, comprising 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, Recaro leather seats and bi-xenon headlights with cornering light, is also available.
First outing for the GSi moniker was in 1988, when the Cavalier Mk.3 was launched with a GSi 2000 variant. And while the 1983-1990 Vauxhall Nova spawned a 1.6 GTE performance model, when it was facelifted in 1990, it was re-badged ‘GSi’, marking the second outing for a GSi model.
In 1993 – 25 years ago – the first Vauxhall Corsa was launched in Britain, and with it a GSi derivative. Powered by a 16-valve, double-overhead cam 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 105bhp at 6,000rpm, the GSi would sprint to 60mph in 9.2 seconds, and on to a 121mph top speed. A five-speed gearbox, firmer suspension, bigger brakes and wider tyres turned the little Corsa into one of the very first ‘pocket rockets’.
GSi badging was then applied to more driver-focused versions of the Astra Mk3, Vectra and even first-generation Zafira models, before eventually reappearing in the current Insignia range earlier this year.