Review

Vauxhall Corsa VXR hatchback

Price  £18,995 - £22,400

Vauxhall Corsa VXR hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Strong performance and handling
  • Impressive ride comfort
  • Well designed interior
Cons
  • Looks aren't to everybody's taste
  • Steering feel could be better
  • Windscreen pillars cause blind spots

At a glance

The greenest
VXR 1.6i 16v Turbo (192PS) 3dr £18,995
The cheapest
VXR 1.6i 16v Turbo (192PS) 3dr £18,995
The fastest
VXR CLUBSPORT 1.6i 16v Turbo (205PS) 3dr £22,400
Top of the range
VXR CLUBSPORT 1.6i 16v Turbo (205PS) 3dr £22,400

"In contrast to the cheap-looking bodykit, the interior feels very upmarket and the seats are comfortable."

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR is the hot hatchback performance version of the standard Corsa and is powered by a 189bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. That's a lot of power for such a small car and the VXR is the most powerful Corsa ever produced. It can be enormous fun to drive on winding B-roads, with entertaining handling and excellent performance, even if the gaudy exterior tends to divide opinion. You’ll certainly turn heads, but not always for positive reasons, as the central exhaust, bodykit and large alloy wheels all scream 'boy racer'. The Corsa VXR's main rivals are the MINI Cooper S, Abarth 500 and Renaultsport Clio.

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.0 / 5

Use the Corsa VXR's full potential and fuel consumption will suffer

Performance cars aren’t renowned for good fuel consumption, and the Corsa VXR won’t be especially kind to your wallet, but it's still more economical than you’d expect. If you drive conservatively, you should be able to match the claimed fuel economy figure of 37.2mpg, but who buys a fast hatchback to drive conservatively? When we drove the Corsa VXR, we saw around 31mpg. CO2 emissions of 178g/km translate to an annual road tax bill of £220.

Engines, drive & performance

3.0 / 5

Handling to match the performance

The MINI Cooper S and Renaultsport Clio have superior handling to the Corsa VXR, but there’s no denying that the Vauxhall is enormous fun to drive, especially through corners. The steering doesn’t offer much feedback when you're driving in a straight line, however, but it suddenly becomes much more responsive in bends. Body lean is kept to a minimum, which helps when you have a considerable 189bhp at your disposal. The VXR can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, and you can also get a limited-edition Nurburgring version that offers even more power and sharper handling, but at extra cost.

Interior & comfort

2.1 / 5

Better than most of the competition

The best you can really say about the VXR’s ride is that it's surprisingly comfortable for a car that has such stiff suspension. In fact, when you compare it to the Renaultsport Clio, the VXR feels positively soft and cushioned. But around town, you feel lots of jolts, with rough roads proving particularly uncomfortable. However, when you pick up speed the suspension starts to iron out those bumps with amazing effectiveness. The driving position is excellent driving and the superb Recaro seats are fully adjustable, as is the steering wheel. The interior feels well built, too: it's a huge improvement over performance Vauxhalls of the past.

Practicality & boot space

3.0 / 5

The Corsa VXR's cabin feels very upmarket

Because the Corsa VXR is only available as a three-door, it isn’t as practical as cars like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, which is available as a five-door. Having said that, rear space is good enough for short journeys, but adult passengers won’t want to be stuck back there for very long. The interior is well laid-out, though, and actually feels quite special.

In the front, occupants enjoy plenty of legroom, and the huge doors make it easy to get in – unless of course you’re in a tight parking space, in which case the size of the doors is a problem. The boot is just about adequate, but the opening is tiny and makes loading bulky items difficult. No spare tyre is included – you get a puncture repair kit instead. There are plenty of storage cubbies inside, including a tray under the passenger seat.

Reliability & safety

2.1 / 5

Loud exterior isn't to everyone's tastes

Vauxhall doesn’t have a great reputation for reliability, and after an impressive showing in the 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, 2013 saw it fall back down the manufacturer rankings. It dropped 13 places, to finish 26th out of 32 brands. The interior feel well put-together, but the exterior looks a bit tacky, often drawing the wrong kind of attention. The engine has been tried and tested, so should be easy to fix and parts and components are readily available. The VXR shares the standard Corsa's five-star Euro NCAP crash-safety rating.

Price, value for money & options

2.0 / 5

More epensive than other small hot hatches

You’ll have to shell out almost as much for the Corsa VXR as you would for the excellent MINI Cooper S, so the Vauxhall is pretty expensive for what you get. However, it does have a leather steering wheel, cruise control, air-conditioning and fantastic Recaro sports seats as standard. Optional accessories include rear parking sensors for £285, plus sat nav for £750. Resale values on the used market won’t be as strong as the MINI's though, so haggle with the dealership to maximise your return.

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 1 review
It's a good car, the VXR, but perhaps not quite the one we were expecting. For a hot hatch, it makes a remarkably fine miniature GT, but we searched in vain for the thrill gene.
3.0 / 5
The engine's characteristics are similar to the Astra VXR's - it roars purposefully, has a broad powerband and a snappy throttle. Small openings cause it to surge forward, which is entertaining, but makes the VXR tricky to drive in town. The pedals aren't that positive, either.
Last updated 
21 Dec 2013

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