What is it?
The hot turbocharged version of Vauxhall’s new Corsa supermini. VXRs are known for being well, lairy is the most polite way we can think of putting it. Visually, at least, the latest product from the Luton-town tuners isn’t about to change anyone’s preconceptions.
With its brash grille, 17-inch alloys, big spoiler, rear diffuser and central exhaust, the Corsa VXR makes the Clio 197 look understated.
No upsets from the figures, either. With 189bhp the Corsa might lag the Clio on power, but with 192lb ft from the turbocharged 1.6 engine (on 15-second overboost; 169lb ft is normal from 1980rpm), the Corsa is the hardest-hitting of the sub-16-grand hot hatches, 0-60mph taking just 6.8sec.
What’s it like?
It might have the usual styling cues, but to drive though, the Corsa is quite different to what we’ve come to expect from VXR.
Power delivery is progressive, the throttle mapping sensible, with none of the sudden, attention-seeking turbo surge that can make the Astra VXR such a frustratingly blunt tool. Drop the windows an inch and it even does a decent impression of the Astra’s ripping turbo snarl.
More surprises are in store at the first corner. First, how with very little steering effort the Corsa darts towards the apex – the electrically assisted variable-ratio rack making the steering quick-acting around the straight ahead, more progressive mid-corner and then faster again at full lock. It takes a little learning and, like the flat-bottomed steering wheel, feels a bit gimmicky until you get used to it.