8
Luton looks to a name change to stoke interest in its hottest supermini; we still like it but its silly pricing means its quality is a moot point

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR is accomplished, refined and quick, but it can’t match the Clio’s sheer panache

Nic Cackett
28 April 2014

What is it?

Don’t let the name fool you. This is Vauxhall’s second go at making its tweaked version of the standard Corsa VXR stick.

The Clubsport takes the place of the seldom-seen Nürburgring Edition, which sunk without trace despite our fondness for it. Only a new Remus sports exhaust and a marginally better name differentiate new from old.

That doesn’t immediately seem like enough, but because the previous car had some notably trick items on its kit list (all carried over), there are several good reasons to be cheerful.

Among them is the fact that the Clubsport continues to sit low on bespoke Bilstein springs and inverted dampers, comes to a halt courtesy of lighter Brembo brakes and goes a wee bit quicker than the standard Corsa VXR thanks to the slightly higher 202bhp and 184lb ft of torque rendered by a modified ECU.

What's it like?

All rather familiar. And with the same Drexler Motorsports mechanical limited-slip differential located on the Vauxhall's front axle, no less memorable for it.

Where most manufacturers seem to prefer a subtle level of interaction from their front-drive diffs, the Clubsport can hardly wait to tighten up and screw its nose into an apex. So much so that even minor adjustments on the steering will have the Corsa flexing at the prospect of a direction change.

Succumb to its delinquent charms and there’s much fun to be had. The steering never quite divests itself of Drexler’s influence – making it all too easy to apply too much lock, or not enough, or to saw away at the wheel when the diff momentarily seizes on one line – but the Vauxhall's turn-in is riotously energetic, the communicated grip is generous and the car’s capacity for throttle adjustment is flagrantly high.

Even away from obviously enlivening speeds, the Clubsport’s appeal isn’t significantly chipped away. The ride is taut and noisy yet not easily unsettled. We’d prefer a more positive change from the six-speed manual gearbox and had hoped the new exhaust would redress the turbocharged 1.6’s lack of character (it hasn’t), but these are relatively minor gripes.

Aside from feeling its age – particularly inside, where some of the switchgear on the unflattering dash is now outdated – the Corsa VXR makes a decent case for itself.

Should I buy one?

Unfortunately, once again, that fact that the Corsa's a decent car will remain strictly between us and Vauxhall.

It’s all too likely that no one else will look twice at the Clubsport for the simple fact that it’s £4395 more expensive than a Ford Fiesta ST2 and £3740 more than a Mini Cooper S – both newer, cleverer, cleaner and much more economical.

The difference in price is unfathomable, particularly as it was already so obviously the Nürburgring Edition’s Achilles heel. By doing nothing about it, Vauxhall has almost certainly left its similarly likeable replacement to the same ignominious fate.

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport

Price £22,390; 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 37.2mpg (combined); CO2 178g/km; Kerb weight 1223kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 202bhp at 5750rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 2250-5500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Comments
6

28 April 2014
I know people won't pay full price for this Corsa, but that really is a lot of money! Granted the Mini Cooper S won't have the same equipment levels as this Corsa, but people will easily spend 3k speccing it the way they want. On a PCP finance deal, the mini will blow the Corsa away with its stronger residual value.

28 April 2014
This is a truly daft amount of money for a car that's on its last legs, surely it would have been better to spec a poverty version up to keep the sales going until the new Corsa comes on stream in the next 12 months.

28 April 2014
Is Vauxhall/GM really serious? A lame duck car spected up with a turbo and some extra kit for 22 grand?
Better spend it on a Renault, Fiesta, Mini, Seat or better still that sort of money would buy you a great nearly new BMW M, Subaru Impreza, Lancer Evo, Golf R, Focus RS, all of which are better value and fun than this beefed up granny ride!

28 April 2014
I have the latest F56 Cooper S and I think it's a great car, but I like this Corsa. It's not for me as I like the comfort provided by the adaptive suspension in the MINI, but I'm sure £4k discounts will be easy to find on this car.

29 April 2014
Without too much effort you can source a brand new Corsa VXR for round the £13,500 mark, and about 6 months ago a few of the internet brokers were selling below £13k. Would this good be a good buy for £15k though? Can't imagine it would be good value on a PCP as residuals aren't great and the fuel economy and tax will be dear if you keep it over 5-6 years.

29 April 2014
It seems to me that GM-E were intent on grabbing the best hot hatch mantra at any cost - unfortunately they threw far too much into this one and the price drifted too high as a result.

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