For a good while, it embodied the classic Vauxhall approach to hot hatches, being for the most part brash, overpowered, overpriced and a little under-talented to make a dent on a segment utterly dominated by the previous Renault Clio RS 200 and now passed on to the imperious Ford Fiesta ST.
Then, in 2011, Vauxhall – or more specifically the Opel Performance Centre – launched the Nürburgring Edition, which finally had us nodding along.
With its uprated engine, exhaust, brakes, stability management and, crucially, a standard limited-slip differential, the model suddenly had the sauce to threaten the Renault on the track.
Unfortunately, it also never made a real mark because it was several thousand pounds pricier than a Clio.
Now the VXR is back as a fully fledged part of the latest Corsa line-up, and this time Vauxhall might have got it right. The standard VXR is £50 cheaper than the equivalent Ford Fiesta ST, the car that’s replaced the Clio RS 200 as our hot supermini benchmark.
It’s more powerful than the Ford, although there has been an attempt to redress this through the ST200 (and plenty of others in this price bracket), too, a VXR trait that its customers tend to appreciate.
They’re an enthusiastic bunch, according to Vauxhall, so to better cater for their harder-core requirements from the start, many of the components from the Nürburgring Edition have been swept into a £2400 Performance Pack. That’s the version we put to the test here.
Of course, the VXR must prove not just quicker but also fundamentally better than the Fiesta ST to eclipse it in our estimations – which, for the past three years, Mini, Peugeot and Renault have all failed to do.