Ricochet News


By Charl Bosch - Oct 9, 2015

Ever since I was old enough to remember, the words automatic transmission have been synonymous with the less than flattering definition of “cars for lazy people”.

Read any road test about a vehicle equipped with a manual box, it would most likely contain the lines “the gearbox has a nice snappy throw” or “the box felt slick and precise” while write-ups on self-shifters would quip “the box hunts too much” and “it remains the weak link in the drivetrain setup”.

While there is very little that could match the sense of being at one with the car as you stir away at each cog, the reality is that more and more automakers have been ditching the three pedal layout in favour of a well-sorted single or dual clutch auto, as well as the rubber band like sounding CVT.

Combine this with ever increasing traffic volumes and more people resenting the idea of furiously prodding away at a clutch pedal to move a few hundred centimetres before hitting the anchors, the benefits of two pedals starts making more sense.

Having previously driven the manual equipped Enjoy and Cosmo models, as well as the performance orientated Sport version of the new Opel Corsa, it was only a matter of time when the sole automatic offering would arrive for testing.

Whereas its manual alternatives are available in a choice of three trim levels, the auto is restricted to the mid-spec Enjoy and also employs a naturally aspirated engine compared to the forced induction setup used on other models.

This aside, there is still no deterring from the fact that the Corsa, tested in eye-catching Peppermint Green, remains one of the most stylish offerings in the segment with its trademark boomerang headlights incorporating daytime running LED’s, prominent chrome logo bar, sporty 16-inch alloy wheels and upwards rear hipline.

Similarly, the interior continues to impress with soft touch plastics used on the dashboard, classy piano key black finish around the optional seven-inch Intellilink touchscreen infotainment system, and simulated aluminium around the leather covered gear lever.

As mentioned during previous evaluations, there is simply no faulting the Intellilink, which is not only easy to use and logically laid out, but integrated with the Bluetooth on my Sony Xperia Z1 compact without so much as a few seconds wait.

In addition, the inclusion of a pre-loaded app for TuneIn digital radio allowed me, once linked to the app on my phone, access to a number of radio stations when not in the mood for streaming music. Seat comfort also came in for considerable praise with head and leg room, especially in the rear, being practically impressive.

Standard spec mirrors that of the manual and includes one touch up/down front electric windows, steering wheel mounted audio controls, auto lock/unlock doors, USB and Aux inputs, height adjustable steering wheels, Hill Start Assist, six airbags and ABS with EBD.

Unlike the manual however, the auto forgoes the characterful 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged EcoFLEX engine, in favour of the same 1.4-litre Ecotec four cylinder used in the previous generation Corsa, due to the box not being programmed to cope with the turbo’s extra boost.

Likely to be final application of a small displacement normally aspirated engine in the Corsa range, the mill produces 66 kW and 130 N.m of torque, channelled to the front wheels through the box’s six speeds. While it doesn’t have the same surge of power delivery as the turbo, the engine does a good job of propelling the Corsa forward if not with the same vigour.

Likewise, the six-speed box is programmed towards comfort and would most often head for top gear in the name of optimal efficiency. That said, the shifts are smooth at normal speeds, and a boon when faced with slow moving traffic. While it offers a manual mode with the same up/down shift button on top of the gear lever as the Mokka, I was more inclined on leaving it make the decisions itself.

The ride also remained compliant and comfortable despite the number of imperfections and potholes around the Metro, while the electric power steering was light enough not to activate the City Steering Mode button on the facia.

Being someone more akin towards enjoying the cut and thrust action of a manual box, the auto-shift Opel Corsa came as a surprise. Given the fact that most of its time would be spent doing the daily commute, its ease of operation and levels of spec would most defiantly secure a position on lists of buyers seeking two pedals instead of three.



MAX POWER66 kW @6000 rpm
MAX TORQUE130 N.m @4000 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUTFront engine; Front-wheel drive
TRANSMISSIONSix-speed automatic