Opel Corsa A
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The third phase of Opel's move towards front-wheel drive, following the Kadett in 1979 and the Ascona in 1980, the Corsa enabled General Motors to attack a segment of the market which was previously closed to them, that of the supermini.
In fact, the Corsa was virtually a scaled-down Kadett on a smaller wheelbase of 92.2 as against 99 inches. The suspension layout was also similar, with MacPherson struts and coil springs at the front located by forward-facing tension rods with an anti-roll bar attached to them on the 1200 and 1300 cc models, similar to the one fitted on the Fiat Strada 105 and 125.
At the rear there was a system of trailing arms attached to a transverse torsion beam to locate the wheels. Springing was by unusual coils wound into a barrel shape and there were separate telescopic dampers. The engine was mounted Fiat-style, i.e. transverse with the gearbox on the end, and was mounted at a slight angle to minimize torque effects on acceleration. The basic power unit was the old Opel push rod four from the old Kadett.
It has been improved by an increase in compression and modifications to the carburettor and camshaft, and produced 33 kW (45 hp) from 993 cc at 5400 rpm. Torque is 68 Nm (50.1 Ib-ft) at 2600 rpm. The larger engines were from Opel's then new generation which was develped for the Ascona and Kadett. They had an alloy, cross-flow head, an overhead camshaft driven by a toothed belt, hydraulic tappets, and electronic ignition.
The 1196 cc version gaves 40.5 kW (55 hp) @ 5600 rpm and 90 Nm (66.3 Ib-ft) of torque at 2200 rpm. At the top of the range is a 1297 cc unit that gives 51 kW (69 hp) at 5600 rpm and produces its maximum torque of 101 Nm at 3800 rpm.
A 1.6 L multi-point fuel injected engine with 100 PS (74 kW) and capable of 186 km/h (116 mph) was later added to the Corsa/Nova, giving decent performance and being badged as a GSi (GTE in pre-facelift models in the UK, later models were all called GSi). A model with an 82 PS (60 kW) 1.4 L multi-point fuel injected engine also became available as the SRi, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi. The design was freshened in 1990 with new bumpers, headlights, grille and interior, but the car was showing its age against strong competition such as the Renault Clio and Peugeot 106.
The standard gearbox had four speeds, but a five-speed with economy-style ratios was available for the 1.3 version. The braking layout was conventional, with servoassistance to discs at the front and drums at the rear, and rack and pinion steering was fitted, with a turning circle of 32.8 ft between walls and 3.9 turns from lock to lock. The tyres were 145.13 for the largerengined cars, and 135.13 for the base model. In order to attack the market more effectively, Opel announced two versions of the car simultaneously, a traditional three-box booted model, and a hatchback, which coincided more closely with the general idea of a supermini in the Fiesta/Metro mould.
This hatchback had two doors and a rear door which opened right down to the rear bumper and measured 142.5 inches overall. Cd was 0.36, and aerodynamic studies were evident in the smooth frontend contours and deep bib spoiler. Pretensions to a sporty image are shown by the vestigial wheelarch enlargements, which owe more to the Porsche 944's track record than that of General Motors. The booted model was called the TR and was also only available as a two-door but, like other hatchbacks that had a boot grafted on, it had a cavernous rear load space, some 15 cu ft. Only the bonnet and door pressings were shared with the hatchback. Overall length is 1 55.7 inches and the Cd is 0.38.
Following their tradition, Opel offered three trim variations; basic, Berlina and SR. The basic car came with a particularly high standard of trim and equipment. The SR's performance came from improved aerodynamics rather than from increased power, as it used the same engine as the other 1.3 models. A larger front bib and a spoiler on the rear lower this model's Cd to 0.35 and the trim follows the pattern set by Opel's other SR versions: black window frames and door pillar trim, a darker colour on the lower body panels, wide tyres on alloy rims, stiffer suspension, sports seats, and a more fully equipped fascia with a rev counter, oil-pressure guage, and voltmeter. The Corsa SR would top 100 mph and went from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 13.5 sec. The 1- and 1.2-litre versions had top speeds of 140 and 152 km/h (87 and 94.5 mph). respectively.
A rare "Sport" model was produced from 1983 in order to homologate for the sub 1300 cc class of group A rallying for the British Championship. These sport models had SR suspension, SR engine with twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, a bespoke camshaft, close ratio GTE gearbox and few luxurys. This gave 93 hp and a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) with a 0-60 mph time of 8.9 seconds These are far the rarest models (500 produced) and thus acquire a high market price if one does become available.
The new model Corsa B was seen for the first time in its pre-production stage in a veriety of media (vehicle magazines, adverts, photographs etc..) back in 1992, but In 1993 the Corsa B was finally unveiled, and in the UK, Vauxhall dropped the Nova name, with the car now being known as the Corsa. The following year, it was launched by Holden in Australia, as the Barina, replacing a version of the Suzuki Swift sold under that name. This proved a success, and was the first Spanish-built car to be sold in significant volumes in the Australian market.