So how does it justify its continued existence?

Because it is easy to park, can be locked away in a domestic garage at night, and is, in many respects, the ideal runabout for a construction site foreman or a mobile security guard plus dog.

Okay, it won’t swallow a mountain of parcels, but it certainly offers sufficient space for a big toolbox and some protective clothing. And if you have to park it on a domestic drive then its profile is low enough not to upset the neighbours.

Revised some three years ago with a reworked exterior plus a new chassis and steering system, the baby of the Vauxhall van line-up has been given a boost with the arrival of the fancy-looking top-of-the-range Limited Edition (LE) Nav. That’s the model What Van? has been sampling.

With twin black stripes running across its bonnet, roof and tailgate, a black front grille bar, black door mirror casings and 16in black alloy wheels, it is unlikely to go unnoticed in the high street. Power comes courtesy of a 95hp 1.3-litre CDTi diesel.

Two other specification levels are up for grabs: the Corsavan and the better-specified Corsavan Sportive.

The aforementioned 1.3-litre engine is also on offer at 75hp. Its 95hp stablemate can be ordered in fuel economy-oriented Ecotec guise with either a conventional manual gearbox or the Easytronic automated manual ’box.

Both versions of the 1.3 diesel are fitted with stop/start. The 95hp engine fitted to Sportive and LE Nav models gets 20Nm more torque than the one fitted to Ecotec variants.

Given the (often unfair) climate of hostility towards diesel emanating from some quarters, mention should also be made of the availability of a 70hp 1.2-litre petrol power plant.

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Load bay

The high-opening tailgate gives access to the 0.92m3 load area and its four tie-down rings.

Anything that breaks away and slides towards the cab should be stopped by the half-height steel bulkhead, in our case topped off by an optional full-height mesh grille.

A comprehensive set of protective plastic panels and mouldings should help ensure the load area’s sides aren’t damaged during loading and unloading, and our demonstrator’s load bed was covered by an optional rubber mat.

On the face of it the lack of side access to the cargo bay is a drawback.

In practice, however, the load bed is so short that it is easy to reach through the door aperture and grab anything resting against the bulkhead.

A low loading height makes lifting heavy items in and out easy too, and interior handles are fitted to help you pull the back door shut.

The door comes with heated glazing – protecting it with an aftermarket security grille or investing in the optional load cover might be advisable – and a wash-wipe system.


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Interior and equipment

The LE Nav’s interior complements the exterior, with sports-style seats and a leather-covered steering wheel. 

Your eye, however, is immediately drawn to the 7in touchscreen designed for use in conjunction with the Navi 4.0 IntelliLink satellite navigation and infotainment system. The satnav offers European as well as UK coverage and features Eco routing: the most fuel-efficient way to get from A to B.

The package includes a DAB digital radio with remote controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming and a USB connection with iPod control.

Our demonstrator and its driver were protected by Vauxhall’s optional OnStar service. Press a button in the cab 24/7 and you will be connected to an assistant who can summon help if you have a problem. If you have been involved in a smash serious enough to trigger an airbag – the Corsavan has six, including curtain airbags – then the assistant will contact you automatically to make sure you are okay. If necessary, he or she will get in touch with the emergency services, tell them what has happened and give them your vehicle’s precise location.

OnStar also delivers a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot that can be employed to connect up to seven devices.

Hopefully, the package of safety measures will make a collision less likely. ABS, electronic stability programme, emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, straight-line stability control, traction control and hill-start assist are all included in the deal, as is a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Ventilated disc brakes are fitted at the front while drum brakes are deployed at the back.

Our demonstrator was equipped with an optional, and rather expensive, Driving Assistance Pack. At its heart is an intelligent front-mounted camera system. It spots traffic signs you might have missed, displays the speed limit, alerts you if you are drifting out of lane on the motorway, and tells you how many seconds you are away from the vehicle in front at speeds above 25mph. Get too close and a red light flashes to warn you to lift your foot off the accelerator pedal and drop back. You get an audible warning too. Collision alert, as it is known, can be switched off, but it makes sense to leave it on.

A sudden cold snap made us appreciate the optional heated seats and heated steering wheel. The latter’s heater imparts gentle warmth, ensuring the wheel is never too hot to touch with ungloved hands. All vans whose drivers have early starts on winter mornings should have both heating features.

Electric windows are fitted, as are electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, and this Corsavan variant comes with air-conditioning, cruise control, a 12V power socket, front fog lights, and a heated windscreen with rain-sensitive wipers. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake and you can alter the height of the driver’s seat.

The cab interior is roomier than one might expect, with even the tallest of drivers unlikely to feel too cramped.

Storage space for oddments includes large bins in the doors with accommodation for a 1.5-litre bottle of water and a lidded glove box. You will find two cup-holders in the centre console between the seats plus a tray and another bottle/flask holder to the rear of the handbrake lever.

Our LE Nav’s alloys were shod with Continental ContiEcoContact 195/55 R16 H tyres. Get a puncture and you can always call on the steel space-saver spare wheel.


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Engine and gearbox

Equipped with a variable geometry turbocharger and an intercooler and married to a six-speed manual gearbox, the LE Nav’s four-cylinder 16-valve double overhead camshaft common-rail diesel delivers maximum power at 3,750rpm.

Top torque of 210Nm bites across a 1,500-3000rpm plateau.

A particulate filter is fitted but Euro6 has been achieved without the need to employ AdBlue.

Stop/start can be switched on and off using a button on the fascia.


With rapid acceleration and a quick, precise gear change, the Corsavan LE Nav is huge fun to drive. It really does corner as though it were on rails, and the sports seats help keep you in place as you tackle tight bends.

Few vans are as handy around town. Spot a tight parking space and you can swing into it quickly thanks to the speed-sensitive electric rack-and-pinion power steering, which delivers a 10.6m kerb-to-kerb turning circle. You can always push the City Mode button on the fascia if you need a bit more assistance, although this facility is lost if you specify the Driving Assistance Pack.

Low-speed manoeuvring was made easier by the optional rear-view camera and sensors.

Independent suspension with MacPherson struts plus an anti-roll bar help support the front of the vehicle, while a compound crank axle with a Watts link designed to assist straight-line stability does the same job at the rear. Coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers are fitted all round.

The suspension system works well, delivering a smooth ride over all but the worst road surfaces.

Drawbacks? The vehicle’s in-cab noise levels need a bit of attention, with the engine and tyres among the culprits, although it is far from being a major issue.

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No matter how hard you push you still get respectable fuel economy, although perhaps not quite as respectable as the official figures suggest.

We were achieving a steady 60mpg compared with an official combined cycle figure of 68.9mpg.

Service intervals are set at one-year/20,000 miles and the Corsavan is covered by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty with no mileage limit for the first year.

Roadside assistance is provided for the first 12 months and the anti-perforation corrosion warranty lasts for six years.

Exterior side-rubbing strips might make sense in order to protect the little van from minor damage.

They could be matched to the LE Nav’s body-coloured exterior handles.

Vauxhall Corsavan Limited Edition Nav 1.3CDTi 95hp

Price (ex VAT)                             £15,115
Price range (ex VAT)    £11,830-£15,115
Gross payload                                  543kg
Load length                                1,257mm
Load width (min/max)    969/1,264mm
Load bay height                            921mm
Load volume                                  0.92m3
Loading height                              532mm
Rear door aperture               771x650mm
Gross vehicle weight                    1,720kg
Braked trailer towing weight     1,250kg
Residual value                               15.6%*
Cost per mile                                    33.0p
Engine size/power 1,248cc, 95hp @ 3,750rpm
Torque            210Nm @ 1,500-3,000rpm
Gearbox                                      6-speed
Fuel economy                              68.9mpg
Fuel tank                                     45 litres
CO2                                            108g/km
Warranty                         3yrs/60,000mls
Service interval                1yr/20,000mls
Insurance group                                    2E
Price as tested                             £17,415

*after 4yrs/80,000mls source: KwikCarcost

Options fitted

Driving Assistance Pack      £1,110
OnStar                                      £360
Rear parking sensors                £260
Rear-view camera                    £235
Winter Pack                             £205
Upper load restraint mesh         £75
Load area rubber mat                £55

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Ford Transit Courier

Price (ex VAT)            £12,295-£15,295
Load volume               2.3m3
Gross payload              577-663kg
Engines      100hp 1.0 petrol, 75hp, 95hp 1.5 diesel

Verdict: As the What Van? Small Van of the Year for 2018, the Ford Transit Courier offers impressive handling, copes well with this country’s battered road surfaces, and delivers a slick gear change as well as respectable fuel economy. The petrol variant of this light commercial vehicle is worth investigating given the growing hostility that diesel is attracting.

Dacia Duster Commercial

Price (ex VAT)            £10,095-£13,045
Load volume               1.6m3
Gross payload              550kg
Engines      109hp 1.5 diesel

Verdict: The bargain-price five-door Dacia Duster Commercial has been winner of What Van?’s 4×4 Van of the Year prize for three years running. It is available as a 4×2, and comes with a decent level of equipment, plus (in 4×4 guise) an ability to keep going in demanding conditions. A new Duster Commercial is on its way later this year.

Fiat Professional Fiorino Cargo

Price (ex VAT)            £11,765-£14,995
Load volume              2.5m3
Gross payload               610-660kg
Engines      77hp 1.4 petrol, 80hp, 95hp 1.3 diesel

Verdict:  What Van? ran a Fiat Professional Fiorino Cargo for almost a year and we can confirm it is a practical, inexpensive, cost-effective runabout that in Adventure guise is as at home in the countryside as it is in crowded urban streets. The light commercial is marketed as a combi and crew van as well as in van guise.