Juliet reviews…The Opel GSI

When Opel announced that it was bringing the GSI badge back to South Africa, we were ecstatic. It is synonymous with the speed and performance of the iconic Opel’s back in the 80s. This badge has now found its way on to the Opel Corsa. Does it deliver on that nostalgic feeling? Unfortunately, I would have to say no.

Opel does say that it is distancing the GSI badge from its historical pure performance roots, which is a shame, though. Someone might purchase this three-door Corsa GSI thinking they were getting a pure racing machine and be quite disappointed when they find out that the 1.4-litre engine only produces 110 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque. Compare that to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTI which sees a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 147 kW and a whopping 320 Nm. Do you see why some might be a bit disheartened by this Corsa GSI?

With that said, it might not have the performance numbers to compete with the Polo GTI, but it is certainly more engaging to drive. The chassis set up, taken from the Corsa OPC, is so much so that it provides a very firm, very sporty ride. The standard 18-inch alloy wheels with high-grip tyres grip like nothing else, so you are able to throw this car around and know you will be sticking to the road no matter what. It is a dynamic little ‘hot hatch’, even if a bit down on speed. Off the mark it is not particularly exhilarating, but once you get in to second and third gear, you can have quite a bit of fun with it.

Something this Corsa GSI offers over its rivals is its lengthy list of standard specification. They stem from the Recaro performance front bucket seats and a sport steering wheel that can be heated to front heated seats and aluminium pedals. The design is certainly sporty with large air intakes, a sculpted bonnet, prominent rear spoiler and moulded side sills. There’s a large honeycomb grill up front with chrome-ringed design elements.

A hot hatch to the average South African means speed and dynamics. Unfortunately, this Corsa GSI does not meet the standards to be called a true hot hatch. One would need a little more from that engine. But it does offer something unique to those who don’t want a plain, standard Corsa. If you want something a little more engaging to drive and something that will certainly grab attention, if just for the badge on the back, the GSi might appeal to you. If you want more power (but a less engaging drive), you will have to op for the Polo GTI. But it will cost you a few thousand more and it won’t be as specced out as this Corsa GSI.

OPEL CORSA GSI 1.4T M/T 3-DR PRICING

From: R365 900

Key Standard Features Include:

  • Electronic Climate Control
  • Cruise Control with Speed Limiter
  • Defroster Heated Windscreen
  • Moisture-Sensitive Windscreen Wipers
  • Driver Assistance Pack

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