The current Corsa passenger car has been on sale for a while now to much acclaim — it is What Car?'s Car of the Year for 2007 — and it is now available in bespoke light commercial trim.

Based around the three-door bodyshell, the all-new Corsavan shares its platform with the Fiat Punto Grande Van — due for launch in the summer — as well as one of its engine options; the excellent little 1.3-litre common rail CDTi.

This engine is already well at home in Vauxhall's light commercial line-up and can be found under the bonnet of the Combo and Astravan. Anyone familiar with What Van? will already be aware of the high regard we have for this powerplant.

Producing a maximum power of 75 bhp (at 4,000rpm) it manages to develop peak torque of 125 lb/ft at between 1,750rpm and 2,000rpm. The other option is Vauxhall's 1.2-litre Twinport petrol unit which although producing slightly more power (80 bhp) is woefully lacking in the torque department; a lowly 81 lb/ft at a very high 4,000rpm.

Both engines have service intervals of 20,000 miles or one year, whichever occurs sooner.

Corsavan's front wheels are driven via a manual five-speed gearbox and unlike its predecessor there is no semi-automatic option. The rack and pinion steering has speed-variable electric power assistance and the brakes are discs at the front (ventilated on the 1.3CDTi) and drums at the rear.

ABS is fitted as standard we are pleased to report and ESP is available as an option for a very reasonable £215, but this may be slight overkill on a van of this size unless it's destined to be in the hands of an over-confident youth who has recently passed his test.

Load Area

Vauxhall mentions in the press pack that the new Corsavan was destined to be a van from day one of its development and we don't doubt it. Good use has been made of the relatively limited space with no remnants of the rear seat fittings and fixtures from the passenger car in evidence.

The floor of the 0.92m3 (VDA) load area is completely flat with four load-tie rings and there's a half height solid steel bulkhead to protect the cab occupants from any errant items. This can be topped off to roof height by a steel mesh grille for an additional £65; well worth the money in our opinion.

Access to the load area is via a high-opening tailgate which reveals an aperture 980mm wide and 650mm high (maximum figures as it's not rectangular). Maximum internal load height is 650mm, width is 980mm, narrowing to 969mm between the small wheelarch intrusions, and maximum length is 1,257mm.

Gross payload (including driver) is 550kg which represents a handy increase of 18 per cent over the previous generation vans.

Optional extras for the load space include a full-size tailored rubber floor mat for £75 and a neat four-piece load cover which fits in the same position as the passenger car's parcel shelf — but full length — and offers the same protection from prying eyes. It folds up for easy storage when not in use.

Cab Comfort

The cab is, of course, identical to that of the passenger car and is dominated by the centre console and its metallic-appearance faceplate. It houses the built-in radio/CD player with a separate display housed in a cowling on top of the dash. Good to see large well laid out controls rather than those fiddly little ones we so often come across.

The rest of the space is taken up by the heater/ventilation controls and two large vents, along with a large button for the hazard warning lights; parking lights in van-speak.

For such a small van the in-cab storage is pretty impressive. There's a large — but not lockable — glovebox, both doors have large bins which can take a big bottle of water horizontally and there's a shallow tray which slides out from under the passenger seat. A couple of drinks holders are provided behind the gearstick.

Remote central locking — including deadlocking — a driver's airbag and electrically adjustable door mirrors are standard features, but electric windows are an £85 option. Other optional extras include air conditioning (£555), heated door mirrors (£85) and rear parking sensors (£225). Why anyone would need the latter item on such a small vehicle quite defeats us!

On the Road

Before going any further let's get the petrol engine out of the way. Unless it's converted to run on LPG — something currently not offered by Vauxhall — to avoid the London congestion tax don't bother. It's low torque output means it is gutless on the motorway, even unladen.

The 1.3CDTi is a completely different story. This engine was made for the Corsavan and we can't think of anything to criticise. It's smooth, noise and vibration are well isolated from the cab and performance is pleasingly good. We also reckon that average fuel consumption should be around the 60mpg mark, although we will have to wait until we do a full Road Test to verify this.

The ride and handling are well up to par, but the latter is spoilt slightly by the tendency of the electric power steering to lose 'feel' mid corner. This is something, however, which a driver will soon adapt to; a shame all the same.

The driving position is good, but we would recommend specifying the optional tilt/reach steering column and seat height adjustment pack (£85) for the additional 'just right' setting it affords.

One slight annoyance is the way the 'metallic' trim around the cowling which houses the radio/CD display causes a 'V' reflection in the windscreen.


Go for the 1.3CDTi and you will not be disappointed. It's a sophisticated little van with a useful load area, performance is more than adequate and fuel consumption shouldn't damage the wallet too much at a basic price of £9,125.