Former motor racing executive, Roger Holliday, takes the '93 edition of an $18 a day rental car for a test spin and is impressed.

It's not very often you get to try out a brand new car whose pretty face is currently appearing on the cover of practically every automotive magazine in Europe.

But that's exactly what happened to us when the Steinke-Autohansa rental car agency dealt us a new duck-egg blue Opel Corsa-GM, Europe's latest entry in the field of small family hatchbacks, also known as super- minis.

From the instant we installed ourselves in the front of this super-chic bubble of fun, we recognized that Opel had got this one right and all the Ford Fiestas, Nissan Micros and Renault Clios that compete in the European econobox class would have to scramble to keep up.

Fit and finish were perfect. The driving position and controls were properly located and the seats gave us quite enough support to make long distance driving a pleasant and tireless experience.

Despite its micro dimensions 147 inches long by 69 inches wide the Corsa somehow manages to be at the same time spacious, sporty and extremely cute. We intercepted many an admiring glance from the normally power hungry local fahrers.

Large windows gave us excellent all-round vision, front seat entry and egress is easy and the car's 9.9 cu. ft. boot capacity is by far the largest in its class.

If our particular Corsa, a very basic two-door model, had one serious downside, it was in the power department. With just 1.2 liters under the hood, this is definitely not your autobahn racer. In fact, it was only by using maximum revs in all five gears and some judicious overhauling that we managed to avoid being classified as a road hazard in the face of the 150 mph Mercedes, Porsches and Bimmers that patrol the autobahns these days.

Get on the yellow roads, however, and the Corsa comes into its own, gamboling along at 50 miles per hour as happy as you please. Safety hasn't been sacrificed either with seatbelt pre-tensioners, anti-intrusion door beams and special safety seats as standard. Parking, of course, is a snap with less than 12 feet to worry about!

As the Opel Corsa (built by Vauxhall in the U.K.) is likely to find its way onto most of the rental car options in a hurry, chances are that you'll get to try out one soon. If so, you might see if there's a 1.4 liter, 4-door version available. It could avoid some flashing lights or finger pointing on the autobahn.

As a basic rental car for two people with luggage, who are looking for some backroad touring at economy prices, we can't think of a better machine.

With our Gemütlichkeit discount, we paid $126 per week, not including 15% German Value Added Tax. We used an AmEx card to pay for the rental and it provided the Collision Damage Waiver insurance.

Opel Corsa Rating: Stunning in its class