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Vauxhall Corsa VXR 1.6i Turbo

Click to view picture gallery“The new Corsa VXR hits the gold
  on the hot-hatch target. Some would
  argue that the Fiesta ST pips it but
  Ford vs Vauxhall has been going on
  longer than the War of the Roses
  and both sides’ supporters claim
  their champion is the better.
  But wear Vauxhall’s Griffin on your
  sleeve and you’ll never need to make
  excuses for your ride...”


AND TO BE SURE you can always along with 50% of all Corsa VXR owners specify the optional £2,400 Performance Pack that sees your VXR ready for the joust with 18-inch wheels, a stiffer suspension, beefier Brembo anchors and a Motorsport-derived Drexler mechanical limited-slip diff.

With or without the extra 'trackday' performance pack the Corsa VXR packs a hefty 202bhp wallop and spears to 62mph in a sharp 6.8 seconds (for the record the 139mph Fiesta ST musters 179bhp and does 0-62mph in 6.9).

“Rolling on 18-inch
alloys, clad in its VXR
bodykit with its eye-
catching rear roof spoiler
and dual exhaust pipes,
it has the cheeky
swagger of Heath Ledger
in A Knight’s Tale...
Rolling on 18-inch alloys shod with 215/40 Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, clad in its VXR bodykit with its eye-catching rear roof spoiler and dual exhaust pipes, it has the cheeky swagger of Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale.

Swing open one of the side doors and you'll find that the performance show continues inside with a pair of very inviting, prominently-bolstered Recaro sports seats upholstered in leather with a 3D-effect 'techie' fabric used for the centre panels. Ribs and outer thighs are clasped firmly, and there's welcome support all the way up your spine.

The driving position is bang to rights and ready for the off is a grippy flat-bottomed steering wheel with perforated work areas and a rim that's not overly chunky but perfectly judged for finger-grip during hard-driving.

The three-spoker is multifunctional with fingertip control of cruise, speed limiter (if you're planning on keeping your licence then you'll need to get acquainted with this), voice, phone, and audio; a central touchscreen is where your finger also goes for audio, Bluetooth, apps, and settings.

For a compact three-door, the Corsa VXR offers decent room with a fist of headroom in the front and good knee/shin room and plenty of space around the shoulders and elbows. The side doors are big and long and serve both the front and rear cabin but you don't have to open them fully for easy entries or exits.

The fascia is neat and de-cluttered in fact, likeably, there's nothing flash or bling about the VXR's cockpit. The main dials are easy to take in at a glance, as is the driver information display between the rev-counter and the speedo although it'll be the digital speed readout that your eyes will flick to more than the analogue dial.

Don't look for a rear-view parking camera or audible parking sensors because there aren't any visibility to the rear is fine; and it's not a big car so you won't have need of either. And it's reassuring to have a traditional handbrake down by your left thigh.

“Power there is aplenty.
The turboed 1.6-litre four-
pot is a real goer and
benefits from a wide rev-
band for its 180lb ft to
strut its stuff. While some
may long for their fifteen
seconds of fame,
the VXR goes one better:
kicking in a maxed-out
206lb ft for 5 seconds
of overboost that will
send the VXR surging
forward like a
well hit pool ball...
Standard equipment includes a full VXR bodykit, dual Remus exhaust system, Recaro sports seats, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, VXR instrument panel, IntelliLink infotainment system with Bluetooth and DAB tuner, sports pedal set, heated windscreen, AirCon, Cruise, trip computer, power door mirrors, one-shot up/down front windows (the rears are fixed), LED daytime running lights, and Bi-Xenon headlights.

You might think sitting in the rear would be a big no-no in something this hard charging and hard riding but, actually, so long as your pilot isn't switched to go-for-it mode you'll be okay. Three headrests and three belts remind you that in less angry spec the three-door Corsa is a practical everyday player.

Helped by a two-setting backrest, there's enough foot, knee and headroom for averagely-built adults to travel in the comfortably ribbed back seats. The outers have bottle/can-holders at each end of the bench while easy-slide front seats make for safe entry and exit.

The Corsa VXR will also carry your bags pop the high-opening, bespoilered rear hatch and you'll find 285 litres of space for your luggage. The 60:40-split rear backrests also fold down to provide 1,050 litres when you have the need for some informal load-lugging. Nice, too, to see a rear wash-wipe fitted too many carmakers skip this essential when they can; but not Vauxhall.

We Will Rock You
the music from A Knight's Tale finds an strong echo in the manner in which the VXR attacks the road. Away from smoother motorways, the physically hardcore feel of a Performance Pack-specced VXR needs a resolute hand at the helm at full blat you need to keep your wits about you and the ride will definitely rock you. Slingshot exits from severe bends and corners are there for the taking with a little help from the limited-slip diff.

Conversely, when the time comes to shed speed quickly and with control you can rely on the Brembo brakes to see you right; they bite with determination while sending back progressive 'feel' through the middle pedal.

Power there is aplenty. Oh, yes. The VXR's turboed 1.6-litre four-pot is a real goer and benefits from a wide rev-band 1,900 to 5,800rpm for its 180lb ft to strut its stuff. While some may long for their fifteen seconds of fame, the VXR goes one better: kicking in a maxed-out and muscular 206lb ft for five seconds of overboost that will send the VXR surging forward like a well hit pool ball ideal for that perfect overtake.

“For all the ‘berserker’ in
its character it will do
everyday ‘tame’. Cruising
at the legal limit is
smooth with the engine
turning over at an
unruffled 3,000rpm, and
while the ride is track-
friendly firm, so long as
you are sensible over
speed bumps you and
your VXR
will remain friends...
Max speed, incidentally, is just over double the legal limit at 143mph. Of corsa, it's always nice to have a bit in reserve…

For all the 'berserker' in its character the VXR will do everyday 'tame'. Cruising at the legal limit is smooth with the engine turning over at an unruffled 3,000rpm, and while the ride is track-friendly firm, so long as you are sensible over speed bumps you and your VXR will remain friends.

In keeping with its trackday demeanour the VXR comes with a manual gearbox only the short-throw six-speeder (topped by a fist-filling VXR-branded gearknob) is a clean-shifter and won't trouble you in heavy traffic.

When you're having this much fun you really don't care about the cost at the pumps but, like death and taxes, there's no escaping the consequences of driving this VXR in the manner Vauxhall's engineers intended. Belt it around and you won't get near the official combined figure of 37.7mpg.

But then in the real-world no hard-charging motor worth its weight ever does. The good news is that even having fun you should at least match our week-long overall figure of 32.1mpg, the result of a mix of fast-flowing motorways to glutinous town traffic but sprinkled with enough smile-inducing, firecracker driving to make it all worthwhile.

So, is the new Corsa VXR the hot-hatch to wear the crown? We had a great time driving it but only you can decide if it, or the Fiesta ST, is the better warhorse for you. Go out and joust in both; whatever you decide you can be sure of one thing you will have had fun! And, like in A Knight's Tale, there will be a happy ending.
MotorBar

Vauxhall Corsa VXR 1.6i Turbo | £17,995
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 6.8 seconds | Test Average: 32.1mpg
Power: 202bhp | Torque: 206lb ft | CO2 174g/km