THE fifth generation of Vauxhall’s evergreen Corsa hatchback is making a bold bid to become the UK‘s biggest-selling car.

Armed with its most efficient powertrains ever, a choice of petrol, diesel or electric powertrains and a ten per cent reduction in weight, it offers reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

But before any of these factors come into play, the car’s appearance first has to attract the customer. And this new Corsa looks fab.

As Vauxhall’s best-selling car for as long as I can remember, it has always endured for its compact dimensions and impressive interiors. More than two million have been sold in the UK since launch in 1993.

But there was no doubt that it was time for a new look alongside the powertrain improvements.

What we have now is a more dynamic Corsa that puts it among the most aerodynamic in its class. If it feels a little different behind the wheel, that’s because it is – this new version has a 48mm lower roof and you will be sitting 28mm lower.

A little longer and narrower, it is probably the best-looking car in its class, edging out the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta. Planted and purposeful, it now feels like a car you will want to drive.

Design features include includes an active aero shutter, smooth underbody and rear roof spoiler to make the model ride as clean through the air as possible.

But with a customer profile that cuts across all sections of society, the Corsa treads a line between sportiness and comfort.

The tested Sri version looked splendid with black roof and alloys contrasting with the white bodywork and piercing LED headlights. It both looks and feels bigger, yet behind the wheel it remains such an easy and enjoyable car to drive.

The turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine – which will almost certainly account for most purchasers – is fun if not exciting, and you can match it to eight-speed automatic transmission if six-speed manual is not to your liking.

The engine line-up begins with an entry-level 1.2-litre (75PS) petrol unit, fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox.

A better choice would be the tested three-cylinder, direct-injection, all-aluminium, turbocharged 1.2-litre engine with 100PS. It can achieve 52.3mpg, has CO2 emissions of 96g/km and sprints from 0 to 60mph in a respectable 9.3 seconds.

The two petrol engines are joined by a three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel unit with 102PS.

The first Vauxhall to be developed since the company’s takeover by the PSA group, the new Corsat shares its underpinnings with its cousins, the Peugeot 208 and DS3 Crossback.

On the inside, you will find a large touchscreen and digital instrument panel on the Sri model, plus some semi-sporty seating and lovely touches such as a heated steering wheel and seats.

There’s a little more room, but nothing to shout about in the back, and it’s the same story for the boot.

It comes as no surprise, given the improvements to the powertrain combined with the weight loss and rigorous testing, to find that this version rides and handles better than the previous Corsa. Just don’t expect any fireworks. The forthcoming VXR version might offer those.

The ride is quite firm, but the engine noise is civilised and there’s enough power to enjoy a composed motorway journey.

Safety, comfort and entertainment are taken care of by a suite of systems that are becoming more and more common place in small cars.

After making such a strong impression in the Vauxhall Astra and Insignia, the multiple award-winning IntelliLux LED matrix light technology is also available on the Corsa. Outside urban areas, the matrix headlights automatically switch to high beam. Cleverly controlled by a high-resolution front camera, the light beam continuously adapts to the traffic and the surroundings to ensure optimum output without dazzling.

This is yet another indication that the Corsa has moved on to another more sophisticated level. The electric version will carry you for more than 200 miles and may well make a small impression in sales.

But for the moment, it is this petrol version that will cement the Corsa’s reputation as a great little car.

Vauxhall Corsa Sri Nav Premium 1.2 Turbo

Price: £20,665

Engine: Turbocharged three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol, producing 100PS

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 9.3 seconds; top speed 121mph

Economy: 47.9-52.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 96g/km

Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***