The Fast And The Few-rious New Vauxhall Corsa
To quote the little knitted bloke behind the wheel, C’MON!
You’ll find yourself saying it quite a bit when it’s you with the keys of Vauxhall’s most powerful Corsa ever, the VXR, nestling in your pocket.
C’mon, let’s go for a run will be the most oft-used, because it’s a car you’ll want to go out and play with. And perfect the art of driving of said machine, because it’s got to be pointed out it’s more of a four wheeled Cruise missile than your common or garden pocket rocket.
It’s unique ‘overboost’ facility, which can increase the torque on demand to a staggering 266Nm (and it’s only a 1.6 engine, remember) means it can overtake before the ‘victim’ realises you’re planning the move. Floor the throttle and the engine management system gives you a five second burst of up to 15 per cent more torque. It’s dubbed ‘Popeye’s spinach for your car’ by Vauxhall, which says it all. The in-gear acceleration is simply remarkable and the challenge is to be able to get it all working smoothly because that power is instantly on the button. It can at times give it an unsettling and almost uncontrolled feel. I say almost, because it quickly gets back into step with what you’re doing with it, and that only adds to the fun factor. And it’s a sure thing that there will be a lot of disappointed people around once word gets fully around about how good the little VXR is.
Because of restrictions at the factory, only 2,500 Corsa VXRs a year will make it to the UK market – that’s around half the amount that some rivals have available to buyers, so safe to assume that Corsa VXR should be much sought-after.
The performance flagship of a range that has attracted plenty of awards since it hit the streets is designed from the wheels up to serve up big chunks of verve and style. The door mirrors, front fog lamp surrounds and centrally located triangular exhaust pipe which exits through a smart underfloor diffuser are all VXR styling cues, and the chunky front and rear bumpers are also unique to the VXR. Then there’s the mesh front grille, blue painted brake callipers and 17 inch alloys (18 inchers are an option), side skirts and a rear roof spoiler to set it off further.
The interior has shell backed Recaro sports seats and a race car style flat bottomed steering wheel – the sort of equipment one of our office colleagues, Nitin Luthra, will be acquainting himself with soon as he has reached the final 12 of the VXR Racing Driver of the Year contest. Weighing probably no more than half of yours truly, he would doubtless make the Corsa travel even quicker than Mr Lardy Bottom here. But I can tell you, from close experience, it’s quick. The 192ps unit imbues it with a top speed of 140mph but more impressively with a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds. Its ‘normal’ torque figure of 230Nm is on tap from 1950rpm to 5800rpm – punchy performance to say the least, but at all times displaying a commendable ‘glued to the road’ feel. A specially tuned ESP system is standard, but you can switch it off if you take the car to a track day (no Nitin, you can’t have the keys for the afternoon) and play around with the responsive chassis that the Corsa was born with. The brakes are uprated, and highly efficient, and it has variably assisted power steering, altering the weight and feel of the wheel depending on how you’re driving the car.
Inside they’ve attempted to make it as special as the exterior, with alloy pedals, and unique VXR detailing on dials, steering wheel and gear knob – and piano black facia trim, so smart in daylight, but highly annoying at night as it reflects every street light you pass under. The cabin is actually a great place to sit. The translucent dials are a refreshing change from the norm, and the overall feel is warm and welcoming. Decent size windows give the cabin an airy feel and the room in the rear is not as cramped as you might expect – a higher roofline effectively sees to that. Doors open far and wide, so there’s never a problem getting in and out.
The latest addition to Vauxhall’s growing performance family offers value for money.