It’s funny how cars fall from grace. A few years back the Corsa VXR was the boy racer, hot hatch of choice. Now, you rarely see them.
That crown has been stolen by the all-conquering Fiesta ST. But in fifth generation guise is this VXR any good?
You still get a turbo charged 1.6 litre engine, nowadays making 202 BHP and 245 Nm of torque. There’s a 5 second overboost function that beefs this up to 280Nm. 0-60 takes 6.5 seconds.
Vauxhall also fitted the highly rated Koni Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) shocks in this latest model. They change their damping forces on the fly to maintain ride quality at lower speeds.
Our test model had the £2,400 ‘Performance Pack’ fitted. This gives a Drexler limited slip diff between the front wheels, enlarged 330mm Brembo front disks and 18” alloys fitted with Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres along with further revised damper settings.
Even though the Corsa VXR starts from £19,245, this one had all the options…making it a costly £24,205.
As we’ve said before, this generation Corsa is a slight evolution in terms of design, but we’re seeing that from all the manufacturers these days. Things get tweaked and that’s about it.
This VXR has a more aggressive front end thanks to the bonnet cut out, and long gone is the central tailpipe. You now get two sticky out ones and a wide rear diffuser.
It’s not in your face, just enough to let you know there’s a bit of performance lurking.
The optional ‘Carbon Pack’ adds mirror caps and a carbon front grille…although just underneath that you can see black foam running all the way across the bumper. That’s a bit crap.
Now the last time I drove a VXR Corsa it was a Clubsport edition. Fitted with the Drexlar LSD it was a battle to keep it going straight whenever you added power.
Thankfully, the new Koni dampers, or some other magic adjustment has sorted this out no end. You can actually get on the power with negligible wheel tug. This ‘lil hatch pulls strongly out of, and even through corners. Allowing you to get on the power super early.
Once it hooks in you really feel like the inside wheel is magnetically locked to the tarmac. Match that with the ultra-sticky Supersports, and in the dry you’re super human.
Chassis setup is also sweet. There’s that balance of lightness and power that older hot hatches used to have. You can play with the Corsa. Lifting off and turning in will bring the back end round nicely. Get on the power again and everything sorts itself out. It’s a hot hatch wet dream.
Steering is tight and spring-like in the way it will snap back to centred. Vauxhall have nailed the balance between fine weighting and a crisp clean turn in. The lack of torque steer is a massive improvement over the abomination that was the Clubsport.
A free revving engine is what you need in a hot hatch, Vauxhall haven’t disappointed here. Ferocity is felt right up until the red line, with no noticeable turbo lag. This little VXR is like a rabid dog, straying to get off the leash whenever the chance occurs.
0-62 is achievable in 6.8 seconds, which is quicker than the last gen Fiesta ST, but .3 of a second slower than the Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport.
Switching cogs is also a delight, with a short and accurate throw being an improvement over fast Corsa’s of yesteryear. However, it still can’t quite match the ST in terms of that mechanical, connected sensation.
Inside you’ll find a pair of huge Recaro racing seats. Proper hot hatches should have big seats fitted. Box tick.
The infotainment screen is nicely laid out and relatively easy to use, with basic dial heating controls situated below. There’s no need for fussy climate control in a car of this ilk.
You’ll find a few choice luxuries though courtesy of heated seats and steering wheel. Our car also had the Technical Pack fitted which includes collision alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and darkening mirrors all-round.
As standard the VXR comes with OnStar, an ‘always on’ linked system that can alert Vaux if you’re involved in a crash. It will then send your location, details on what systems have been set off in the car (which airbags) and will connect live to a call centre where an agent will ask if you’re OK and in need of assistance.
OnStar also brings with it connected car capabilities via the MyVauxhall app. With it you can view the cars status, lock/unlock doors, locate the car as well as flash the lights and beep the horn. You can also send sat-nav directions to your vehicle, handy. Oh, and there’s Wi-Fi too.
A quick mention to boot space, it’s something we haven’t noticed on the normal Corsa.
But Vauxhall have fitted the tyre compressor into the right hand side above the wheel arch and a first aid kit in the left hand. Leaving far more usable space than you’d normally have in a little hatchback.
Although the Corsa VXR seems to be suffering from a popularity problem in the last few years, it’s apparent this latest model brings a hell of a lot to the hot hatch table.
In terms of engagement it’s right up there with the best. The Performance Pack is a costly option, but well worth it if you’re a serious enthusiast.
But at nearly £25k with all the goodies, the VXR is looking a little on the pricey side these days.