Dancing with the Lady in red

Opel Corsa 120Y

“A journey of retracing steps…”

Founded by sewing machine maker Adam Opel in 1862, the company produced its first vehicle in 1899. Together with his wife Sophie, Opel continued to build a brand of cars still enjoyed to this day. In celebration of this history, Opel South Africa introduced the Opel Corsa 120Y special edition, which I had the opportunity to sample recently. Lady in Red, I dubbed it.

Opel Corsa 120Y

As a celebratory model, I also chose to do something worth celebrating: to drive to a place where it all began – to the venue of my very first contribution to the automotive media space, fuelled by my mentor, founder and former publisher of www.petrosexual.co.za Phuti Mpyane. It was April of 2012 and in front of my lens was a German make cabriolet. In front of that open-top machine was the view of the Amathutshana Mountain range – a special place on the Isandlwana Battlefields in KZN. My first pictures were later to be published in the now-defunct Cars In Action magazine.

Not only is this place a reminder of my very first contribution to motoring but carries a rich traditional and cultural history of the Battle of Isandlwana which took place on the 22nd of January 1879. This is the day where both Zulus and English lost their troops and blood was shed, that of my forefathers too. This thought alone had me wondering the amount of blood sweat and tears it took Opel to create a brand as big what we have now.

That’s 450km worth of road from JHB, and the Corsa averaged 6L/100km. Seeing as Opel says the Corsa 120Y engine is economical, R450 worth of fuel from empty should return a run that equals  R1 per kilometre. Was this even possible? The driving took me on the N3 South; the R23 through Standerton, Volksrust then down the infamous Amajuba Mountain Pass road. With the Corsa cruising well, and Maskandi music jumping out of the car’s standard fitment system, the drive was already worth it.

Opel Corsa 120Y

The Opel Corsa 120Y edition has convenience features such as smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth streaming and a 7-inch Opel IntelliLink Infotainment System which, should you come to a complete standstill, it can also project videos. The cabin is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate four adults with sufficient boot space.

A relaxed cruise returned an average 20km/L average which didn’t last long. I was right back up to 17.5km/L – the equivalent of 5.7l/100km as preferred by the commonwealth.

Upon arrival at Isandlwana’s exclusively gravelled but well-maintained roads, Lady in Red’s soft suspension absorbed the coarse surface with reasonable comfort. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that develops 66kW and 170Nm and is mated to a six-speed manual proved a good companion for the trip. Not even the steep drive back to Johannesburg managed to faze the urge under Lady in Red’s bonnet. Not so many downshifts were required for overtaking. Safety features such as front and rear parking sensors, a reverse camera and City mode steering wheel are just some of its urban driving cosiness features.

Opel Corsa 120Y

While the sun was setting on the Battlefield’s view, I took some time to appreciate the exterior design of the Opel Corsa 120Y edition and couldn’t help to be smitten by the lines on the bonnet leading the eye onto the front grille with a chrome beltline. The 16-inch gunmetal silver wheels completed the view.

Lady in Red’s interior is ergonomically designed but can be a little uncomfortable for taller Petrosexuals who are used to driving cars with armrests as the one on both door panels is a little short forcing one to lean on the window frame for added comfort driving. The steering wheel can be adjusted for both reach and height but feels plasticky together with the dashboard.

Opel Corsa 120Y

The Opel Corsa 120Y retails at R259,900 and comes with a 3 years/60 000km service plan and a warranty with road assistance.


At R259,900 with a 10% deposit and 0% balloon payment, the Opel Corsa 120Y will cost you a repayment of R5298,84 over a period of 5 years (60 months).

With a balloon payment of 10% and a 10% deposit added, the special edition Corsa will set you back an amount of R4980,60 over a period of 5 years (60 months).

With no deposit and a 10% balloon payment, a monthly repayment of R5558,96 will set you back for 5 years (60 months)

Data provided by Williams Hunt finance calculators

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