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Vauxhall Corsa SRi | Shed of the Week

Incredibly, Shed hasn't considered a 'D' Corsa before. That streak ends now

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, November 8, 2019

One of the key qualifications of Sheddery is that each week's selected motor must have a valid MOT certificate. As Shed sits down to pen these words, this week's effort - a 2008 Vauxhall Corsa SRi - fulfils this essential brief. By the time you read these words though, it won't. The certificate expires - or to be temporally correct, expired - on Thursday November 7th.

PH's powerfully-built Editor has relaxed his iron grip on this because, believe it or not, no Corsa has graced this column for at least seven years, or possibly ever, which seems almost incredible. Plus, after gazing intently at his crystal ball for several hours, Shed thinks that this one should pass a new test without too much bother. Plus, at the time of writing, the car is legal. So, for all these reasons and in the spirit of impending Christmas, a sort of exemption is being made.

The Corsa's non-appearance in Shed of the Week isn't that hard to explain when you think about it. It's not because they've never dropped under our £1,500-max-price limbo bar. Far from it. It's because a Corsa that any self-respecting PHer might want, ie a sporting one, has always been out of reach.

When the Corsa 'B' arrived in 1993, Vauxhall enthusiasts wondered where the equivalents of the Nova SR, GSI or GTE were, not to mention the extremely rare Nova Sport 1.3, fully restored versions of which now command prices of over £20k.

The answer was that they didn't exist, not then and not even in 2000 when the gen-two 'C' Corsa came out. None of that mattered to Vauxhall, though, because boggo Corsas were selling like hot cakes, even toppling the mighty Fiesta from the top of the supermini charts for a year in 2005.

But then somebody noticed that the 'C' Corsa was terribly boring. The word eventually reached Luton, and the result was the 2006 gen-three 'D' Corsa range which included a new, madly exciting but also rather punishing 190hp VXR. The 147hp SRi that arrived in late 2007 used a softer version of the VXR's 1.6 turbo. It didn't have the VXR's central exhaust, mesh details, big bumpers, Recaro seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel or Lotus-tweaked suspension damping, but it was vaguely affordable at £13.5k, the insurance was reasonable and you could have it with five as well as three doors.

The SRi was summed up thusly by none other than Riggers, late of this parish and an Autocar tester in a previous life. "Just like every other Corsa (VXR excluded), the SRi feels like a mature, sophisticated device rather than a chuckable nutcase. A Fiesta ST it is not, so if you're looking for out-and-out fun from your pocket rocket, look elsewhere. But if you want a sensible and good-looking hatch that can turn a smile when required, you could do far worse."

Riggers, who Shed hopes will not mind being quoted without copyright permission, also liked the crisper but not over-firm suspension and the variable assistance steering that he said was an improvement on that of ordinary Corsas. Mind you, just about anything short of a Series 2 Land Rover had superior steering to that of ordinary Corsas.

Various lesser journos rated the SRi higher than something like the Peugeot 207 THP GT (not difficult) or the SEAT Ibiza FR (more debatable). One motoring monthly reckoned it was a typical Vauxhall hot hatch in that it gave you plenty of straight line whizz for your cash (0-60 in 7.6sec, 130mph, 155lb ft of torque from 1,850-5,000rpm) but that the fun-o-meter needle would slump somewhat as soon as the first corner hoved into view.

Although we don't have the benefit of any interior shots here, Shed is fairly certain that the SRi had a strong red'n'black theme that took in the seats, steering wheel and seatbelts. Nice if you liked that sort of thing, horrid if you didn't. The central section of the dash reflected quite badly in the windscreen too, but generally speaking this Spanish-built Vauxhall's cabin was well put together.

Our SRi Shed is not a minter and there's some sort of issue with the mileage. The vendor says 78k, but last November's MOT certificate had it at 85k, when there were advisories on rear tyre wear and a worn front suspension bush.

The Corsa D was only just pipped to the European Car of the Year title in 2007, but 12 years on, what problems can you expect? Well, the brakes might screech, but with any luck that will be drowned out by the squeaking of the suspension. Turbo failure, clutch judder, coolant and washer bottle leaks, and clogging washer jets join dodgy handbrakes, fuel regulators and mass air flow sensors on the roster of shame. Normal 21st century car stuff in other words.


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