There was no doubt that my last week long tenure behind the wheel of the new Opel Corsa, rated as one of my favourites.

From the daily commute and meandering around town, to negotiating a 515 km section of baking hot tar in the Karoo, and arriving back home with the fuel consumption indicator reading 5.7 L/100 km, it never once put a foot wrong and despite the somewhat conservative Meteor Grey paint scheme, it did attract a fair amount of stairs and smiles when parked or on the move.

Naturally, handing it back proved to be difficult as, stepping back into my own vehicle, I immediately noticed the dip in built quality, lack of modern gadgetry and most of all, the shove provided by the one-litre turbocharged three cylinder EcoFLEX engine.

Having returned the keys of my previous Chevrolet Cruze tester, I was in for quite a surprise when the next set opened the doors of the range topping Cosmo model in a not so conservative colour called Limelight Green, which, under bright lights at darkness, had a tendency to turn white.

This oddity aside, it did not take long for the Corsa to come into its own after a short drive back to our office.

As mentioned, the Cosmo represents the top end of the Corsa range slotting in above the base spec Essentia and the subject of my previous review, the mid-spec Enjoy. Although my first experience of this model some four months ago had been limited, I was keen to find out what the additions of more time and extra standard equipment over the Enjoy would lead to.

On first glance, there is no denying that the Corsa remains one of the most striking offerings in this segment. Compared to the Enjoy, the Cosmo‘s subtle additions of chrome foglight surrounds, 16-inch wire-like alloy wheels and coloured / chrome door handles not only lends a sporty touch, but also hints at the Spanish-built supermini’s premium aspirations.

Where it further impresses, is on the inside. It might be a cliché by now but there is no escaping the fact that the type of materials used are some of the best in class. Not only are plastics on the dashboard soft, but the leather covered steering wheel feels chunky while the Adam inspired coloured plastic insert looks smart and devoid of feeling cheap.

An optional extra on the Enjoy, but standard on the Cosmo, the much lauded Intellilink infotainment system was extensively used and again proved not only easy to navigate, but connected with my phone’s Bluetooth without any hassle.

In addition, the fitment of the system adds front and rear parking sensors as well as Blind Spot Detection (BLIS) which, as its name suggests, flashes a light in the side-mirrors when a vehicle is detected in your blind spot. Further standard kit includes cruise control, auto on/off Bi-directional xenon headlights, interior ambient lighting and auto on/off wipers.

While its Enjoy sibling had to proof its worth on the open road, the Cosmo spend most of its time performing the daily commute, which once again highlighted what is without question one of the best the drivetrain setups available today.

Stepping straight from the 1.4-litre turbocharged Cruze, the Corsa’s three pot mill felt that little more powerful and response despite being 18 kW and 30 N.m of torque down. Yes, the Cruze is heavier and in a completely different segment, but the way the EcoFLEX unit delivers its power from 1 800 rpm remains astonishing as it seems shrug of its weight off in building forward momentum.

Then there is the six-speed manual gearbox. Whereas the similar ratio auto unit in the Cruze is geared for comfort and economy, the slick shifting manual felt sporty while the ratio spacing strikes the perfect balance between extracting optimal power and fuel economy.

Although slightly on the firm side, the ride proved comfortable and only truly became bumpy when forced to traverse badly patched pieces of tar.

The electric power steering also came in for considerable praise by being light and providing just enough feedback, although the former could be further enhanced by pressing the City Mode button. As its name suggests, the system is primarily designed for city confines and makes the steering overly light when negotiating tight turns or parking areas.

Whereas the Enjoy struck the perfect balance between form and function, the Cosmo takes supermini opulence to the next level without any drawbacks. More importantly, its demonstrates that the top spec Opel Corsa is more than capable of taking the fight to its pricier and less well equipped competition.



ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 12v Inline 3 Turbo
MAX POWER 85 kW @5000-6000 rpm
MAX TORQUE 170 N.m @1800-4500 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; Front-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual
EMISSIONS 117 g/km

*Figure as tested on Enjoy spec