Review

Vauxhall Corsa VXR hatchback

£22,405

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 actually the most powerful Corsa ever produced. It’ll travel from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds, which puts it into the premier league of hot hatches.

But if that's not enough, there's also a Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport model, which develops a massive 202bhp and cuts the 0-62mph time to just 6.5 seconds. The Clubsport model also comes with a range of suspension and brake upgrades to help tame that additional power.

Whichever Corsa VXR you choose, 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 Hatchback Cooper S, Abarth 500 and Renault Clio Renaultsport.

It's a similar story inside, with big – but extremely comfortable – sports seats and a chunky steering wheel. But other than that, the VXR is as practical as the standard Vauxhall Corsa on which it is based.

We should point out that the current Corsa VXR is actually based on the old Corsa, which has now been replaced. An all-new Corsa VXR is expected in 2015.

When it comes to choosing a Corsa VXR, there will be plenty drawn to the more expensive Clubsport version, because it represents the ultimate in Corsa performance. That pace comes at a price, though: while its stiff suspension makes it great on a race track, it's just too uncomfortable on the road. The standard Corsa VXR isn’t exactly lacking in performance, so it's the one we’d recommend.

But the elephant in the room is the Ford Fiesta ST – it's cheaper, almost as fast, but more fun to drive.