Unusually fast and focused special edition Corsa is an old-fashioned thriller with considerable talents. Pricey, but worth every penny.

What is it?

It's doubtful that any affordable fast car - anything short of a special edition Porsche 956, frankly - could pull off a name like 'Nurburgring'. A fast supermini would have to be very special indeed to justify being named after the most notorious motor racing circuit in the world.

Good job, then, that the new Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition is exactly that sort of car.

What’s it like?

Using a regular 189bhp Corsa VXR as a departure point, Opel/Vauxhall's performance division OPC revised the turbo, fitted a new exhaust and ECU, and raised power by 13bhp to 202bhp, and torque to 207lb ft on overboost. Running on 100 octane petrol, this Corsa can even produce a class leading 207bhp.

And that's just for starters: this Corsa also gets specially selected progressive springs and inverted monotube dampers by Bilstein, and rides 20mm lower than a regular VXR at the front. It's got lightweight Brembo brakes, lightweight forged alloys, and a torque-sensing mechanical limited slip differential between its driven front wheels. It's the first Vauxhall fitted with an LSD since the 1990s Omega.

And it's fast, focused and sensationally fun to drive on track. Opel/Vauxhall took us to the Lausitzring in eastern Germany to test its new hot hatchback, and there unearthed a front driver with quite incredible traction, agility and outright pace.

The diff's the key. Turn into a corner in this car and there's grip, balance and body control to match the plentiful available performance. But pick up the throttle mid-corner and, instead of steadily nosing wide like most front drivers, the Corsa Nurburgring serves up nothing but traction and cornering yaw, hauling you further towards the apex. Both through apices and out of corners, it's unbelievably fast and composed. Even Renault's mighty Clio Cup couldn't keep up.

Should I buy one?

A question mark remains about the Corsa's road manners: our test route was exclusively on circuit, so it remains to be seen how well this thoroughly hardcore Vauxhall will ride on British roads.

That said, little except some manageable brake fade marred a first impression nothing short of stunning for this new fast hatchback. Before driving it, you might wonder how any superminis could justify a £22k pricetag - but if the likes of the Mini JCW and Citroen DS3 Racing manage it, the Corsa Nurburgring pulls it off with ease.

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition

Price: £22,295; Top speed: 143mph; 0-60mph: 6.5sec; Economy: 37.2mpg; CO2: 178g/km; Kerbweight: 1307kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged petrol; Power: 202bhp at 5750rpm; Torque: 207lb ft at 2250-5500rpm (on overboost); Gearbox: 6-spd manual


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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gazza5 10 May 2011

Re: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring

Another traveller wrote:
It's a German car

Yes it is but what I meant is it isn't VW, BMW, Merc, Audi - if you say a vauxhall people don't associate vauxhall as being a german car

ethnotechnic3 10 May 2011

Re: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring

Wow! A positive Autocar review on a Vauxhall. Even some positive comments in the forum too. Think I'll frame it!

ACCobra427 9 May 2011

Re: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring

£23,000 for a turbo 1.6 Vauxhall Corsa? I don't care how good autocar reckon it is, you'd have to be one sandwich short of a picnic. Now, if you must, £10k in the used section in 12 months sounds better.

£23K chuckle, chuckle....