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Steering, suspension and comfort

A quick note to Vauxhall’s marketing department: you could, and should, do an important service to Corsa VXR buyers by renaming this car’s optional ‘Performance Pack’.

It needs something that better communicates just how uncompromising it’ll make their new hot hatchback. ‘Track Day Pack’ would be entirely appropriate – as would a strongly worded warning for anyone who expects to do the vast majority of their driving on the road.

With the optional Performance Pack, the Corsa VXR is capable of humbling plenty of more powerful front-drivers on high days at Brands Hatch

With the Performance Pack, the Corsa VXR is easily the most hardcore car of its type since the last Mini GP. It’s a compelling circuit machine, capable of humbling plenty of more powerful front-drivers on high days at Brands Hatch – and it’s very likeable in that mode.

But it’s also sufficiently coarse and hard-riding on the road that it would most likely test your commitment and enthusiasm for its highly strung temperament over every rough bit of asphalt and raised bit of ironwork.

Needless to say, the car’s ride is firm. It’s easily excited into some high-frequency pitching and vertical pogoing on its springs but also quite unyielding in its damping.

Those Koni shocks aren’t clever enough to avoid maxing out over sharper intrusions, making the car feel skittish at times. Neither will they respond quickly or delicately enough to smooth out the low-level fidgeting that those firm springs cause.

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Add into that mix the effect of the limited-slip differential on the way the Corsa handles and steers and – over an uneven surface – you have a recipe for waywardness and unpredictability not unlike that of a cub scout armed with a gattling gun.

Steering weight fluctuates markedly as that slippy diff sends traction-related forces back through the rack, making this a car to guide with two steady hands on the wheel at all times. There is also notable torque steer to account for, the suspension deforming as you open the throttle mid-corner.

On a smooth circuit, such things can be managed and mitigated – and the traction and directional impetus granted makes them worth the trade. But on the road, characteristics like that are harder to tolerate.