Took my car into a mates garage to have 2 new tyres and rear brake pads fitted yesterday and got the loan car for 24 hours.

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 petrol Auto.

Not driven any Corsa before but years ago had a hankering for the mildly tuned Rally version that was popular in the early 80's, can remember the model designation but I digress.

This 57 plate looked quite smart in black and once inside was trimmed to a fairly high standard for what I believe to be a fairly basic model. There was a socket for my ipod but no air conditioning, no problem at the moment though.

I was shown how to work the gear box but not the rear windscreen wiper which took most of my journey from Harrow to Slough to switch off! Back to the gear box, it isn't a true auto, more of an auto clutch affair but had a nice modern electronic selector that reminded me of the latest type in the 5 series. On pulling away from the garage forecourt the gear box made its presence felt as the change was carried out as if I had the setting on learner driver mode. The engine revved for ages and then I was jerked forwards as forward momentum was momentarily lost the next gear engaged and I was thrown back into my seat.

What a crap gear change and there were plenty more where that came from. I soon discovered that gentle acceleration combined with a slight easing on the throttle as the gear changed was the best way to proceed. I was very wary about trying to pull out into traffic quickly though as you never quite new when the gearbox would do its stuff leaving you losing drive when speed was of the essence.
The morning drive to work saw me select the sport setting which just made things worse, more revs and an even coarser change however the snow setting seemed to improve things with a much more gentle change when combined with a delicate right foot.

On the whole the car was a pleasant place to be with quality materials and supportive seats, apart from the previously mentioned air con all the basics were there from electric windows to RDS stereo. The ride was quite good over potholes and speed bumps and the steering was fairly direct and the car felt stable at speed. Minor gripes include lack of heated door mirrors and a difficult to reach seatbelt due to the 3 door layout putting the door pillar quite a way behind an average height driver. I had to put £12 worth of fuel in to allow for my commute on motorways and crawling traffic of about 70 miles.

All in all not a bad small car but I would rather have a manual gearbox than the very poor auto.