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Aside from feeling its age – particularly inside, where some of the switchgear on the unflattering dash is now outdated – the Corsa VXR makes a decent case for itself.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