"In contrast to the cheap looking bodykit, the interior feels very upmarket and the seats are very comfortable"
The Vauxhall Corsa VXR is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that produces 189bhp- a considerable amount for such a small car and the most powerful Vauxhall Corsa ever. Brilliant fun on a B-road, the three-door only baby VXR has entertaining handling and strong performance although the looks can divide opinion. The central exhaust, bodykit and large alloys are far from subtle and certainly attract attention. Competiton comes in the form of the Renaultsport Clio, Abarth 500, or Mini Cooper S.
Vauxhall have hit the jackpot with the handling of the Corsa VXR. The little car dives into corners with very little persusaion and whilst the steering feels numb when pointing dead-ahaed, it importantly weights-up through tighter turns - providing the driver with valuable feedback of the amount of grip on offer. It's quite an accomplished set-up, as body roll is also kept to minimum. With 189bhp at its disposal, it's fast too. The 0-62mph sprint is despatched in 7.2 seconds and the 1.6 turbo engine feels strong throughout the long powerband. Limited edition Nurburgring versions offer even more power and sharper handling but carry a steep premium over the standard VXR.
Considering it sits on stiff, sports suspension, the Corsa VXR's ride is incredibly comfortable. Compared to the Renaultsport Clio 200 it feels positively cushion-like. The ride is still firm in town, especially on bumpy roads but the Corsa's chassis copes with shocks amazingly well. The driving position is excellent, mainly thanks to the superb Reacro seats and highly adjustable steering column. The interior feels well made too, it's a huge improvement over performance Vauxhalls of the past.
Following unimpressive scores in the Driver Power survey and a recall earlier in its life, Vauxhall's Corsa doesn't have the best score for reliability. Following a recent update however, the cabin feels very well made- unlike the exterior of the VXR which looks a bit tacky and can attract some unwanted attention. The engine is also used in other Vauxhall models so any problems should be easy to fix.
Only available as a three door, the Corsa VXR isn't as practical as the Volkswagen Polo GTI but space in the rear is acceptable for short journeys. The interior is well designed however and feels quite special for such a small car. Front passengers get loads of knee room and although the huge doors allow easy access in most cases, crowded car parks can cause problems.
Value for money
Priced above the excellent MINI Cooper S the Corsa VXR is expensive to buy new. FItted as standard with a leather steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning and fantastic Recaro sports seats, the baby VXR is well kitted-out but residual values are not up to the same levels of the MINI however. Optional extras include rear parking sensors at £285 and Touch and Connect sat-nav at £750.
With an official fuel consumption figure of 39mpg the VXR is surprisingly economical if driven sedately, but who are we kidding? Most drivers will be tempted to press-on in the Corsa VXR and in our tests we only managed 31mpg. Annual Road Tax will cost buyers £190 and servicing through Vauxhall dealerships offers good value.