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Opel’s new Corsa will start from €17,975 as the first models arrive in Ireland. The outgoing five-door started at €17,050 and Opel claims the difference arises from lots more spec – and the advantages and advances that come with a new car.

The sixth-generation supermini has petrol (mostly) and diesel engines (75hp to 130hp), while an electric model is due in March.

The petrol engines, specifically the 100bhp, 1.2-litre 3cyl turbo, will power a lot of the cars. There are 5spd, 6spd manuals and an optional 8spd auto.

At 4.06 metres it is longer, lower and wider. In the flesh it looks significantly different: the tightly drawn front end, longitudinal crease down the centre of the bonnet, the lift along the flanks and the muscular hips at the rear.

The roofline is 48mm down on before, but due to lower seating (-28mm versus the current one) I had loads of headroom.

As you know, Opel is now in the PSA (Peugeot, Citroen) group, so many of the Corsa’s underpinnings are from the collective parts bin: 1.2-litre petrol (75bhp, 100bhp, 130bhp), platform, transmission etc.

The trick in distinguishing it from a Peugeot 208, for example, lies in making the Opel look substantially different inside and out – and to give a strong variation on driving.

It’s certainly a roomier cabin now with more style and sweep around the dials and touchscreen, though I feel the steering wheel is too large.

On an atmospheric drive up the twisty hill roads and along the Dalmatian coast in the 100bhp version, it was nicely brisk with good pulling power.

The chassis was well balanced as I swung it around dark roads with sharp, narrow bends and some poor surfaces.

The steering was moderately too light for me; I’d like a firmer feel. And I thought the 3cyl turbo engine sounded a bit harsh under pressure. Nonetheless, it was a good runout for car and the (optional) adaptive glare-free IntelliLux LED matrix lights.

The 130bhp version I drove later in broad daylight serves for now as the performance pick of the bunch. Sadly, traffic marred my attempts to test it properly; on a limited run, it showed a good turn of foot. At 4,060mm long (+39mm) it is much the same width (1,745mm), but that significant 48mm lower. Better internal space stems from a 28mm wheelbase stretch. The boot is up 24 to 309 litres

There are three trims: SC, SRi Line and Elite. SC and SRi have additional Premium packs.

Prices start at €17,975 for the SC 1.2 75PS 5spd petrol, with the SC Premium version costing €18,875. The 100PS SC auto costs €21,695. The 6spd SRi (100PS) starts at €23,000 (Premium €24,300). And Elite begins at €23,645. The 1.5 diesel is from €22,545.

Standard SC trim includes cruise control, 7ins touchscreen, air con, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, 16ins alloys, lane departure warning, auto emergency city braking, front collision warning with AEB. Premium SC adds heated front seats/steering wheel, auto lights/wipers and rear parking distance sensors.

SRi adds LED lights/front fogs, sports switch/front seats. Premium SRi has heated front seats/steering wheel, auto lights/wipers and climate control. Elite includes 10ins infotainment screen, multimedia Navi, 17ins alloys; black roof/A-pillars etc.

Opel executives at the launch emphasised the car’s Germanic qualities (low road noise due to the ‘autobahn test’), despite the prevalence of PSA parts.

Regardless of components, the new Corsa is sufficiently different and a big improvement on the current one.

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