40 years of Opel Corsa: a success story in six acts
2022 is an anniversary year for Opel: it celebrates its 160th anniversary and marks the 40th anniversary of one of its most successful achievements, the best-selling Opel Corsa. The model that revolutionized the small car class when it premiered in 1982 and today, in its sixth generation, is in greater demand than ever.
Last year, the current Corsa was the most popular small car in Germany and the best selling car in the UK. The electric Opel Corsa-e won the Golden Steering Wheel 2020 and accounts for about a quarter of Corsa sales.
To understand how Corsa’s popularity began immediately after its debut in 1982, you need to look at another successful model of the brand — Opel Kadett. A small car conceived and designed to provide mobility to more people at a time when driving is still a true luxury. After that, the story moves quickly, with customers becoming more demanding as their options expand. The little Kadett got bigger and more powerful in the second half of the 20th century, moving closer to the compact class with every version from Rüsselsheim.
That’s how the decision to introduce a small and compact car comes — it’s time for the new Opel Corsa. The subcompact car first rolled off the production line in the fall of 1982 at a newly built automobile plant in Zaragoza, Spain, and immediately gained widespread popularity, becoming Opel’s best seller. To date, 40 years after its creation, more than 14 million units have been produced at Opel’s plants in Zaragoza and Eisenach.
This success is largely due to the numerous innovative technologies implemented in various generations of Corsa, which were previously only available in cars of higher classes. These include safety and assistance systems such as ABS and airbags, as well as a front camera with distance indicator, traffic sign recognition and lane keeping assistant, and the new Intelli-Lux LED® Matrix adaptive light. Now in its sixth generation, the best-selling compact car is proving to be the future. As of 2019, it is available for the first time as a battery-electric Opel Corsa-e.
Opel Corsa — a success story in six steps
Act one: Opel Corsa A from 1982 to 1993
The Corsa A has compact proportions and is only 3.62 meters long. The model has bold, protruding, like a rally car, wheel arches and an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.36, which was perhaps the record for a car in this class. Design chief Erhard Schnell created this sporty compact car with clean, chiselled lines to catch the attention of the «owner of the house». The highlight is the 100 hp Corsa GSi, which also has a diesel version. The range of two-door hatchbacks and sedans was expanded in 1985 with the addition of the popular five-door model. Corsa A becomes the brand’s bestseller. 3.1 million units of this model were produced.
Act Two: Opel Corsa B from 1993 to 2000
Despite the success of the first Corsa model, the decision was made at the brand’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim to position the successor as a true favorite of the ladies. Opel design legend Hideo Kodama took on the project to design and create a much rounder and sleeker shape for the Corsa, with attractive eye-shaped headlights that matched the boyish-cute exterior perfectly. Corsa B is ten centimeters longer and much more spacious inside than its predecessor. It introduces higher safety standards in its segment, including ABS brakes, side impact protection and frontal airbags. For some markets, in addition to the hatchback, Opel offers a sedan, station wagon and pickup. Gasoline engines now have fuel injection technology and catalytic converters, while the GSi has 16 valves and powerful turbocharged diesel engines. The second Corsa model quickly became popular all over the world, with sales exceeding the four million mark.
Act Three: Opel Corsa C from 2000 to 2006
After the remarkable success achieved with the Corsa B, Hideo Kodama was once again tasked with designing the new Corsa C. The styling deliberately partially copied the design of its successful predecessor. The Corsa increases its length by ten centimeters and has a wider stance with a longer wheelbase, which greatly increases interior space. For the first time the body is completely galvanized. An advanced ECOTEC four-valve petrol engine and new direct-injection turbo-diesel engines guarantee power, low fuel consumption and the lowest CO2 emissions — all variants now comply with Euro 4 emission standards. The Corsa C also becomes a sales star, reaching up to 2.5 million units .
Act Four: Opel Corsa D from 2006 to 2014
Since then, the three- and five-door versions of the Corsa have evolved in different ways: the three-door Corsa has a unique coupe-like style, customer-oriented with a sporty spirit, just like the original Corsa A. The five-door version is spacious, fully suitable for a family car. The Corsa D measures just under four meters and reaches exactly 3999 meters. Thanks to ecoFLEX technology, the Opel Corsa features economical Start/Stop systems and highly efficient engines. Version 1.3 of the CDTI ecoFLEX consumes just 3.3 l/100 km on the combined cycle and emits just 88 g/km CO2 (according to NEDC). Since the release of the fourth generation Corsa, over 2.9 million units have been sold.
Act Five: Opel Corsa E from 2014 to 2019
Dynamic, practical and stylish, the Corsa E is a bestseller with around 1.3 million cars sold. The fifth generation is produced at the Opel factories in Zaragoza and Eisenach. For the first time, the little star exceeds its size limit of four meters, offering high comfort and advanced technology at a length of 4.02 meters. Heated steering wheel, heated seats and automatic climate control are available, as well as a front camera with distance indicator, traffic sign recognition and lane keeping assist. Corsa drivers are optimally connected to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible IntelliLink infotainment systems, including a seven-inch color touchscreen. The top performance subcompact model was originally the 152 kW (207 hp) Corsa OPC and later the 110 kW (150 hp) Corsa GSi.
Act six: the electric version of the Opel CorsaF is presented in 2019.
Opel Corsa number 6 is optimally equipped for future challenges. The latest generation subcompact, which made its world premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show 2019, is also available in an emission-free, all-electric version. The real highlight of the model is the anti-dazzle Intelli-Lux LED® Matrix adaptive lighting, which Opel is offering for the first time in the small car segment with the current Corsa. Equipped with numerous advanced assistance systems, such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and radar-based adaptive cruise control, which make driving even safer and more comfortable. Length 4.06 meters, handling, modern design, The layout of the details and the practicality of the five-seater Corsa guarantee complete comfort and driving pleasure. The coupe-shaped roofline is 48 millimeters lower than its predecessor without sacrificing headroom. The driver’s seat is 28 millimeters lower. The low center of gravity improves ride and handling. The latest version of the Corsa is sportier and more dynamic for more driving pleasure. Thanks to this recipe for success, the small car with the lightning bolt logo has again become the most popular small car and the best-selling car in countries such as Germany and the UK.
Opel’s electric Corsa-e model proves its electrifying effect on customers in several ways: in Germany, the production Corsa-e model won the Golden Steering Wheel 2020, the modified Corsa-e Rally model demonstrated in rally competitions how high performance can be combined with environmental friendliness . By creating a zero-emission subcompact car, Opel is the first manufacturer to develop a battery-electric rally car that competes in the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup, the world’s first electric rally cup from 2021, defining the future of rallying.