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Opel Corsa Utility 1,8 Sport 

Broadcast dates : 24th July 2005
30th July 2005

The light commercial vehicle market in South Africa is often glossed over by newspapers, motoring magazines and, yes Ė television-shows like this one, in terms of its importance.

Yet without these hardy half-ton and three-quarter-ton work-horses, thousands of small businesses would be forced to rely on larger pick-ups which are more expensive to buy and maintain.

A glance through the price lists will reveal how competitive this sector of the market is.

Starting at just over R70 000 for a Nissan 1400, there is a choice of twenty models from the four major players Ė Nissan, Ford, General motors and Volkswagen.

The Opel Corsa Utility 1,8 Sport is a recent addition to the second-generation Corsa range launched a year ago. It comes with more power, but a not inconsiderable price tag of R166 470.

The engine fitted to the Corsa Utility 1,8i is straight out of the Corsa GSi hatchback.

Itís a fairly conservative single-overhead-cam unit with two valves per cylinder.

Although itís profiled for low end torque, it likes to rev and is happiest between 3500 and 5000 rpm, with a redline at 6500 rpm.

In fact the pick-up offers almost identical performance to the GSi hatchback.

The slick gearshift action makes for an easy press-on style through the gears, and with a 160 Newton-metres of torque at just 2600 rpm, lugging power is very good.

In keeping with light pick-up tradition, the suspension is of a simple, rugged design.

Being a front-wheel-drive vehicle, it made a lot of sense to use a torsion beam axle, mounted transversely beneath the load bay.

This is suspended on stiff coil springs, which enables the Corsa to accept a load of close to 700 kilograms. The load bay is much bigger than most half-ton units.

It has a total volume of 1.9 cubic metres, which makes it ideal for lugging heavy objects.

Front suspension is the common MacPherson strut system, and this seemed to cope well on both tar and dirt roads.

Braking is via discs in the font and drums in the rear. The drums tend to lock a little easily when braking really hard.

The Sport version of the Corsa pick-up will appeal to the younger set and many previous-generation Corsa bakkies were modified for sprint use.

The one-comma-eight-i Sport features alloy wheels as standard and colour-coded bumpers.

Air intakes have a sporty appeal, as do the rugged wheel-arch blisters.

The interior is pretty much like the front half of a Corsa GSi hatch back.

Individual sports seats are covered in hardy cloth, thereís electric window operation, and the instrumentation is white-faced, a-la GSi.

Other Sports touches include the brushed aluminium console with CD audio and aircon, and leather and alloy gear lever trim.

Fuel consumption is around the ten litres per hundred mark when unladen, and the fifth gear gives quite relaxed open-road cruising.

At a 120 kilometres-per-hour, the engine is spinning at just 3000 rpm, this low rev cruising being possible thanks to the low torque peak at 2600 rpm.

With a fifty-two litre tank, the Corsa Utility is good for over 500 kilometres in general use and over 600 on long trips.

Noise levels are a bit high in the cabin, but overall the driving experience is car-like, showing that light bakkies have come a long way in terms of refinement over the past few years.

The Corsa Utility has good ground clearance despite its rather modest fourteen-inch wheel sizing.

Consequently, farm roads pose little challenge to the Ute. The Corsa was commendably free of squeaks and rattles after quite spirited dirt road use.

The overall air of solidity is welcome, with General Motors seeming to pay extra attention to build quality to all its vehicles these days.

The clever cabin design, which includes quarter windows behind the doors, opens up plenty of storage space behind the seats. This is a very livable pick-up on a day-to-day basis.

Opel Corsa Utility 1,8i Sport
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 1 796 cc
  • Power: 79 kW @ 5 400 rpm
  • Torque 160 Nm @ 2 600 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 10,2 seconds
  • Top speed: 185 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 10,6 litres/100 km
  • Price: R136 470
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