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Old 12th December 2005, 23:52   #1
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Default My Corsa - Initial impressions

Hello guys,

Its been two weeks since i took out my new Corsa 1.4. I was planning a couple of long trips each weekend, but then the cyclones (Baaz and Fanoos) had other plans!

I took my car out from MPL Automobiles Chennai. Had an interesting presale tussle between Sundaram and MPL - with Sundaram bad mouthing MPL at every turn. That in itself put me off Sundaram. I also visited Sundaram's showroom at Mount Road. The display Corsa was shoved upstairs and surprise surprise there were no lights in the display area. So, i had to make do with a Corsa standing in the parking lot outside. What was refreshing though was the number of Opel Astras that could be seen there. I also spoke to an Astra owner and he was very happy at the service that he was getting.

MPL was much better. The Team Leader and their Corporate Manager personally visited me at my office and took me in their Optra Elite (snob value i think!) to their showroom at Nelson Manickam road. Had a good look at the display vehicle there and made up my mind.

The delivery was taken out from MPL automobiles on November 16th with the usual puja. We drove the car over to ultra crowded T.Nagar for fitting accessories. I had the base model MP3 player taken out and fitted in a Blaupunkt Monterrey player. I also had them add in 'Keyless Entry'. That was about it as far as modifications to the vehicle goes.

Oh - one thing to mention - the left front tyre had low air (22 psi) after i had driven out of the showroom. I found this out the next day and had it set right. Also informed MPL about this and they apologized for the oversight and thanked me for mentioning this to them.

The best unhindered drive that i had was a 40 km stretch on the East Coast Road in Chennai. And i did have fun on that drive.

Initial impressions:

- There is a significant difference in power delivery when you switch on the A/C. There is a drop of course! While it is not too bad after you rev the engine past 2000 rpms, i couldnt get a good taste of the engine as i am not supposed to rev past 3000 rpms.

- The fifth gear is pretty hard to slot into (expected in a new car). And the fifth is definitely not the gear to get into if you want to overtake anybody.

- The car is a very relaxed cruiser. I was able to do only a 100 kmph on the ECR Road on my way back into Chennai. Funnily i was able to zip past Ikons and Accents easily (the Ikons were 1.6 models). Well, an OHC put me in my place with a rousing exhaust note to boot! No worries there, really. More to the point, i was still below 3000 rpms when i was doing a 100 on the 5th gear. That is promising. The car promises a lot more muscle on tap. Also its easy to squeeze into gaps and twist and turn with this car. The twisting and turning is hardly for fun in Chennai - its very much called for.

- The ride quality is just superb. I really want to wade into all those reviewers where they say that the only area that the Corsa does good is in the ride quality department, and that too, dismissively. Is ride quality so down in your priorities, pray? Having had a taste of Chennai, i am not going to compromise on ride quality in a hurry!

- Once more, power delivery is laid back. Even though the car is capable of doing a 0-60 in close to 5 second times, it does not feel so fast. I believe it might be because of a combination of things - the gas filled suspension, the heavy frame and the ultra soft ride. The other thing could be that the steering is on the chunky side. But i quite like it that way - the steering i mean.

- The car is extremely well built - inside and out. The bonnet and the doors are very heavy. All control knobs are very nice to touch, feel and use. The A/C controls, admittedly, are an eyesore. But they work well and the A/C itself is an absolute chiller.

- Vibration damping is also extremely good. I could feel the A/C compressor along with the engine's thrum in my friend's NHC, but i couldnt in my car. The steering has a slight vibration but the gear stalk is completely free of it. A commendable job.

- Speaking of the gear shift, its a positive delight. It does not have a short throw that feels sporty, but all gears have a tight and slotted feel to them. They suck into place with a minimum of effort and i like the way the stalk is rounded off (i.e. all gears except the fifth where a bit of muscle is called for, at present). Oh and i forgot - i am still getting into terms with the GM norm of having a separate protective ring in the gear stalk to go into reverse gear. You have to pull in the ring and shift towards and past the first gear to get into reverse. I was told that all GM cars have this.

Those are my initial impressions. I will update this after i have been able to explore the vehicle a bit more over the next two months or so. And i think its far too early to yap on about German technology just yet!

Nobody at MPL seems to have heard about the K&N filters being mentioned in the forums. Can i fit one in my car and will it boost the performance regardless of whether the A/C is on or off? Are K&N filters model specific, i.e, is there a specific filter for a Corsa 1.4? And am i supposed to get this fitted in the GM showroom or at any other specific place? What are your thoughts?
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Old 13th December 2005, 00:24   #2
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Hey bala, nice review man... Yeah I agree to the ride quaity part completely, needless to say its a german thingie but yup corsa is one helll of a cruiser!!!My VTEC feels like a gocart after having a good ride in an astra or corsa...awesome. Got any clue as to what are your FE figures?? Ive heard quite a few complaints on that aspect, you better take your run in period serious or else you FE will not be too pleasing for a 1.4l car. Talking about the k&n fitment, dont bother, go to a decent performance shop or k&n dealer and get it plumbed. You might wanna chk your options before installation as there are quite a few models and types in k&n, I mean stock replacement, racing, performance etc. Well, the 5th gear that you are waiting to slick out might just not be around the corner Corsa's 5th gear is always a wee bit on the stiffer side but you never know....After finishing your run in period take it for a good long drive and post the observations, would love to have 'em. I have always liked a corsa, its a great car, Im sure you will be a satisfied customer. Congrats and keep revving!

Last edited by The Wolf : 13th December 2005 at 00:26.
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Old 13th December 2005, 02:29   #3
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Nice report. How about some pics. Did you get the station wagon like you wanted?

Quote:
Originally Posted by balashome
. You have to pull in the ring and shift towards and past the first gear to get into reverse. I was told that all GM cars have this.
Its actually Opel specific. Also used in TATA RWD vehicles where you have to pull the whole lever up.
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Old 13th December 2005, 04:12   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower

Its actually Opel specific. Also used in TATA RWD vehicles where you have to pull the whole lever up.
My Cielo had that feature, kinda liked having it
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Old 13th December 2005, 08:24   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raihan
My Cielo had that feature, kinda liked having it
Yup....know why? Cielo is nothing but an Opel Kaddet that's one generation older than the desi Astra, which itself is 2 generations old now. Pretty sure the Matiz dosent.
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Old 13th December 2005, 08:28   #6
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Hey bala my dad runs a Corsa 1.4 Gsi. We got a stereo(pioneer I think) plus 13 inch Alloys on our car for free ( plus the ex-showroom price equals on road price offer). We purchased the car in end 2003-beginning 2004).
mileage is around 8-8.5 only, very disappointing. Pickup also not that great.
But what comfort!! Even though the interior is a bit cosy, long trips are a breeze in this car. It just wafts over any road imperfection with disdain, its occupants not feeling anything.
Interior quality is good, overall build quality is outstanding, it is very solid.
The funny reverse gear engaging mechanism wasnt looked up in the owners manual( and the guy who delivered the car failed to mention it properly), so we took a while to figure it out.
Engine is coarse outside the car, very very well dampened inside.

Overall, my parents love the car (it suits their laid back attitude well), I preferrred my dad'sa old Ikon 1.6 for my more sporty needs.

All the best with ur car, man!! Keep updating us!!!
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Old 13th December 2005, 11:11   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower
Its actually Opel specific. Also used in TATA RWD vehicles where you have to pull the whole lever up.
Not Opel specific! My Fiat has it too. I guess, most european cars have it.

@Balashome, if you are wondering what is it for, trust that it's there for a good reason. My good friend was traveling on highway in his Santro Xing at 110-120, in 5th gear. He wanted to downshift quickly and casually pulled the gearstick down. Voila! Huge stuttering noise, gears griding and car shaking violently. Why? He had accidently tried to put it in reverse. Gears didnt engage luckily, but that day he realized importance of that small ring
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Old 13th December 2005, 12:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RX135
Not Opel specific! My Fiat has it too. I guess, most european cars have it.

@Balashome, if you are wondering what is it for, trust that it's there for a good reason. My good friend was traveling on highway in his Santro Xing at 110-120, in 5th gear. He wanted to downshift quickly and casually pulled the gearstick down. Voila! Huge stuttering noise, gears griding and car shaking violently. Why? He had accidently tried to put it in reverse. Gears didnt engage luckily, but that day he realized importance of that small ring
I agree that it is not Opel specific. Different manufacturers have tackled it in a different way. Opel, Skoda and if I am not wrong, Optra have the same mechanism. Fiats have a similar mechanism, but the reverse gear is below the 5th and we need to "up" the ring before engaging it. One of my friends who owns a zen also had the same issue your friend in his santro had. This mechanism of differentiating the reverse gear is really beneficial according to me.
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Old 13th December 2005, 12:38   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepakhon
I agree that it is not Opel specific. Different manufacturers have tackled it in a different way. Opel, Skoda and if I am not wrong, Optra have the same mechanism. Fiats have a similar mechanism, but the reverse gear is below the 5th and we need to "up" the ring before engaging it. One of my friends who owns a zen also had the same issue your friend in his santro had. This mechanism of differentiating the reverse gear is really beneficial according to me.
Yeah, manufacturers have built ways to circumvent this accidental engagement. My Indica has a reverse lock so that no matter how much you try you won't be able to move from the 5th gear to the reverse. However it does not require the driver to do anything to engage (or disengage) this lock. The flip side being what stops the driver to mistakenly get into this mishap in two steps? That is from 5th to neutral and then to the reverse? i know people who strangely enough never shift at one go. They always do it albeit very quickly in two stages. From any gear to neutral and then to the next.
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Old 13th December 2005, 12:45   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zappo
The flip side being what stops the driver to mistakenly get into this mishap in two steps? That is from 5th to neutral and then to the reverse? i know people who strangely enough never shift at one go. They always do it albeit very quickly in two stages. From any gear to neutral and then to the next.
Good point raised. I am sure manufacturers will have made it difficult to engage the reverse accidentally eventhough they do not have any rings or any other obvious mechanism. Otherwise accidental shifting to reverse would have been too common a problem and I really wonder what impact the gearbox would have had because of this. Anyways, as you have rightly pointed out, without an obvious mechanism, some people might end up doing something like you have mentioned and at that time, it is going to be disastrous.
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Old 13th December 2005, 13:36   #11
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Nice review Bala!

In my books, heres the Corsa in a nutshell:

PROS

Build Quality
Ride Quality
High Speed Stability
Safety
Interiors fit and finish

CONS

High cost of ownership (maintenance and depreciation)
Ergonomics (Especially the cramped footwell)
Cramped interiors
Niggling problems
FE (Not that I care about this aspect)

GTO
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Old 13th December 2005, 15:43   #12
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The suspension of Corsa is not due to German engineering contrary to popular belief, the suspension is good for Indian roads as the original car was designed for latin America, which has similar roads to India, thus keeping the roads in mind, the suspension of Corsa was made to absorb those bumps in roads without trouble. However this has nothing to do with German engineering, I guess hardly anyone in Germany would drive a Corsa. Also due to the soft suspension, the car is difficult to steer, as in you get thrown around in your seat as you dont get proper feedback from the steering.
I was very close in buying Corsa myself, but was put off by a fellow owner telling me that it gives FE of 9. Else, me too was quite impressed with the suspension of the car. However in the longer run, I guess it will be a little expensive to maintain due to high costing spares.
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Old 13th December 2005, 17:36   #13
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nice review bala,

the fifth gear will ease up and slot in like the lower gears ..
about the k&n ..dont go for the performance one ,get a factory replacement filter for FE purposes ..

i have been very satisfied with the Corsa 1.4 gsi average..it has regularly returned me 10-12 in city with a/c..worst i have ever got 8kmpl..keep the revs low make all the shifts at or approaching 2000rpm ...

on highways it returned 14-15 kmpl...
i also dont put the 4th gear to much use ..i hardly use it , 1,2,3 thn 5th for me..5th pulls the car easily from 45km/h..

cheers
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Old 13th December 2005, 17:56   #14
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I agree with the cramped footwell problem, GTO. It sucks major time. In fact that was my gripe right from the presales stage - but the positives, at that time, seemed to outweigh the negatives. What other ergonomic disadvantage(s) would you attribute to the Corsa? Because i was quite happy with the other aspects of ergonomy it exhibits.

At that time, i convinced myself saying i was spoilt by the large footwells and the stretching space offered in the other cars that i had driven (most of them had automatic transmission).

Also, i need some more pointers on installing K&N filters. I am an absolute novice at car modding. It would be fabulous if somebody could explain the pros and cons of installing a K&N filter for the Corsa in particular. Searching the threads, the general impression i got is that installing a K&N filter will lift the performance so that you feel a 5 to 6 BHP increase and that your exhaust quality is also improved. Some posts also indicated an improvement to FE. Would somebody please throw some light on these aspects related to the K&N filters - again with specific focus on the Corsa, if possible?

If i am supposed to go to a specific K&N dealer, would the modification interfere in any way with my warranty on the car with MPL (the GM dealership)?

Also, in response to another question, i have not really paid heed to the fuel consumption as of now. Thats the next thing on my list.
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Old 13th December 2005, 18:29   #15
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Excellent review Bala. One thing i want out of this car would definitely be the footwell space. The pedals are quiet close. Especially the clutch. I would love to have more space to the left of the clutch pedal. The rest of the issues, i do not agree.

I am not being defensive over Corsa, but just wanted to share some of my experiences with this car.

I own a 1.4GSI and i never faced any issues with the car so far. The only cost i ever had is the fuel. I do not understand what everyone means by "high cost of maintenance" considering a service interval of 10000km.

On the fuel average, I get a consistent 11 - 12 (with a/c) within the city and more than 15 on highways. Maybe you guys should just go a little easy on the gas pedal. Revving & braking hard in traffic doesnt help. Keep the car below 2500 rpm and shift at the right time to get the best out of the car.

Its a very good car overall. Drive it (not in mumbai traffic) and let me know
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