The VXR Vauxhalls are a rowdy bunch. Loud, high-powered and unruly. Going in a straight line is what they do best while leaving some of the finer aspects of vehicle dynamics to others.
But with the new Corsa VXR there has been a subtle shift from the ‘whack a big engine in and see what happens’ approach.
Sure, it’s loud. Certainly, with 190bhp from its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, it’s fast. But unruly? Not really. This is a very finely-honed hot hatch, not only evident in its chirpy handling and performance but in the attention to detail to the car as a whole.
The standard three-door Corsa is already a sharp-looking thing and adding 17-inch alloys, side skirts, mesh grille, triangular exhaust, funky mirrors and a rear spoiler accentuates the effect. It’s the best-looking hot supermini on the market, managing to look racy without teetering over the edge into chavvy-ness.
If Vauxhall has done a great job with the exterior, it has aced the interior. It seems to have shamelessly lifted parts from an Audi RS4 (costing around £40,000 more than the little Corsa).
All the launch cars had the optional £1,000 full leather Recaro seats, which are exceptional (part-leather is standard), with a one-piece back unti and a hard-backed shell.
The Corsa is not only competitive on specification, though. The price beats the Clio Renaultsport 197 by a few hundred pounds, while Ford’s 150bhp Fiesta ST is much cheaper but is starting to look seriously down on power and showmanship.
The VXR also has the strongest residual values in the Corsa range by a distance, no doubt thanks in part to its limited 2,500 run. CAP is predicting RVs at 39% after three-years/60,000-miles.
The Corsa VXR is a prime example of just how quickly the Vauxhall brand is moving away from a sensible but dull image towards something altogether more sexy. This car is capable, classy and very desirable.
Behind the wheel
After being mightily impressed by the package and its presentation, it would have been a real shame if the Corsa was all show and no go. Fortunately, it’s not.
The steering is sharp and responsive, the engine pulls willingly and with a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds feels quick without giving the impression you’re being dragged along by a raging bull, as in some other VXRs.
It is also grippy and stable under cornering, although (risk management types might like to skip the rest of this paragraph) if you lift off mid-corner, you can make the back swing out like the legendary Peugeot 205 GTI, the accepted hot hatch handling king.
And there aren’t many cars deliberately set up like this these days. They’re a wild bunch, these VXR engineers.
This is a car set up for thrills rather than thrift, although electronics keep a pixellated eye on you and cut in if everything gets a little too out of shape.
But it’s also a car you can happily tootle about in without thrashing it, although the exhaust note is rather dull whether being silly or sensible. An optional sports pack for the exhaust is supposed to be on the way to counter this rare failing.
Model: Corsa VXR
Power (bhp/rpm): 190/5,850
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 170/5,800
Max speed (mph): 140
0-62mph (secs): 6.8
Fuel consumption (mpg): 35.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 190
On sale: Now
Prices (OTR): £15,595