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Vauxhall Corsa-E 2020 Griffin Gains Ground.

So far so promising, but what do you get for your money?

With prices starting at £27,165 including the plug-in vehicle grant (PICG) of £3,500, the Corsa presents quite an attractive proposition, though that’s for the 7.4kW charging system in base form – an 11kW charging system is coming at the end of the year and will cost £31,515. Rivals include Nissan’s 40kWh Leaf, which starts at £29,845, Renault’s Zoe which starts at £29,170, and the Hyundai Kona, which in 39kWh base model form is £32,600. All of those prices are before the plug-in car grant has been applied.

Vauxhall claims that if charged at home, paying around 13 pence per kWh (Unit) of electricity, the Corsa-e will cost about £65 a month less than the equivalent automatic 1.2 turbo Corsa equivalent. Peugeot claims that the 208-e has total life costs about the same as a 1.2 auto equivalent, but that’s charging in France. In the UK, Vauxhall isn’t being drawn into whole-life cost comparisons.

How’s the performance?

The AC synchronous electric motor gives a power output of 134bhp between and 191lb ft of torque. That’s in Sport mode and there are two other driving programs which restrict that power and torque; Normal, 105bhp/162lb ft; and Eco, 79bhp/132lb ft. There’s also an enhanced regeneration braking mode, which increases the amount of electricity flowing back into the battery on over run.

Top speed is quoted at 93mph, 0-62mph is covered in 8.1sec and range is quoted at 209 miles in the tough WLTP standard, though hills, temperature extremes and high speeds can more than halve that. Given the usable battery capacity of 46kWh, the Corsa has an efficiency rating of 4.54 miles per kWh and using the latest Government power generation figures, a well-to-wheels CO2 output of 37.7g/km.

And how has that extra weight affected the ride and handling?

The ride isn’t bad, despite that weight and extra damping stiffness. There’s refinement and decent body control, which contrasts with the initial softness (verging on galumphing) Peugeot e-208. On broken UK roads, the little Vauxhall might feel a bit too firmly sprung, but not painfully so. With eco Michelin 17-inch tyres, a series of regular small bumps sets up a corresponding rhythmic clatter at the rear end, but that’s the worst of it.

With the Berlin launch roads so slimy, it was difficult to judge the handling fully, though body roll is well controlled and the steering is direct and well weighted if not over endowed with feedback. In fact the Corsa-e’s weight distribution is closer to an ideal 50/50 than its petrol counterpart and the centre of gravity is 10 per cent lower, which is a good start, but that extra weight means like most battery electric cars, it corners flat with a slightly uncanny feeling of grip which tells you nothing about just where the limits of that grip are. So you end up driving on trust rather than knowledge.

And the cabin?

Unlike the space-age, three-dimensional binnacle of the Peugeot, the Vauxhall is resolutely conventional. You might find it a bit dull, but the facia is clear, concise and is well built out of decent materials. Even the heater controls which are under the centre console are like Audi’s with the digital display of the temperature inside the centre of the switch.

The cabin displays consist of a black and somewhat cluttered driver’s instrument binnacle and a colour centre touch screen with good graphics and an easy to read sat nav which repeats its instructions in the drivers’ binnacle. The seats are comfortable, though the cushions under your bottom feel a bit thin.