What is it?
A very lightly upgraded Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nürburgring, which keeps all the good bits that impressed us so much about the original car when it was launched in 2011.
Its excellent grip, traction and all-round entertaining manner ranked it alongside the best hot hatches - a very effective mechanical limited-slip differential gave it exceptional levels of grip and precision.
This car, which ditches the Nürburgring name for Clubsport, retains the diff, the 201bhp turbo four-pot, the retuned Bilstein suspension (lower and stiffer than a standard VXR) and gains a new sports exhaust system.
There are a couple of small-scale trim updates, including some Clubsport-badged sill covers, and our test car was fitted with a set of very attractive satin black 18-inch wheels. Oh, and the price has increased by £95, which isn’t much. But the price is an issue - more of this later.
What's it like?
Still exuberant and involving. The moment the car starts moving, you’re thinking, this is going to be amusing. And it is. The Recaro seats are just the thing, supportive and wrap around, the wheel’s exactly the right size and from the off there’s a nicely judged low-level boom from the exhaust. It’s not uncomfortable either, even at high speed on the motorway - the noise isn’t intrusive. It all feels quick, tight, eager.
But you’d be daft to buy this car for driving on motorways. We found a series of tight uphill bends on a mountain road in the French Alps, and it felt like competing on a special rally stage.
Open it up and you can pretty much pilot the Clubsport as fast as it will go, charging through a series of tight bends with very little need to back off. That’s down to the excellence of the diff, which keeps the Corsa’s nose tucked in tightly all the way through a corner and keeps the car going where you point it.
You can feel the diff working in front of you, controlling each wheel’s action as you apply the power. It’s very satisfying and very efficient, and the body control afforded by the damping makes the car feel accurate. That’s not to say it’s predictable and dull - all of this just means you can get on with enjoying the car.
It does suffer from a modicum of torque steer, which is most noticeable from a standing start, but does show itself when you’re exiting a corner, quickly. It clouds the precision and messes with the steering, but not so much that you couldn’t learn to drive around it.
The cabin’s looking a little old, too. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but some of the detailing appears clumsy, especially the heating controls, and the indicator/wiper stalks are a fiddle to use.
Should I buy one?
This is still a fine hot hatch. Fast, accurate, entertaining, involving and usable, it’s still the equal of newer machinery. Just one problem - the £22,390 asking price. Two years ago, when the VXR Nürburgring was launched, we reckoned it was worth its £22,295, but it now has the excellent Fiesta ST to compete with.
The Ford is £5390 less and can match the Corsa in every way. So unless you can track down a very big discount, it’s impossible to recommend the Vauxhall over the Ford.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport
Price £22,390; 0-60mph 6.5sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 37.3mpg; CO2 178g/km; Kerbweight 1307kg; Engine 4 cyls, petrol, turbocharged, 1598cc ; Power 201bhp at 5750rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 2250-5500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual