Vauxhall Corsa VXR Review & Ratings
- 15 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
VAUXHALL’S GO-FASTER CORSA VXR supermini has earned itself a fairly loutish reputation. However, although this new one is faster and arguably more specialised than its predecessors, it strides off in a new direction by toning down its act a little and becoming more civilised and easier to drive than before.
Considering this is the first time Vauxhall has had the chance to do a full overhaul of the Corsa VXR, there’s little new under the bonnet. That said, there are new induction and exhaust systems that make the car marginally quicker and more efficient.
The suspension and steering benefits from the upgrades made to the standard Corsa’s mechanicals as part of last year’s wider model overhaul. Not only that, but the VXR also gets stiffer, shorter springs, so-called frequency selective dampers that claim to combine good high-speed body control with a supple low-speed ride, and an all-new torsion beam suspension arrangement for the rear axle. There’s a new six-speed manual gearbox, too.
Punchy with crisp handling The VXR remains a relatively unreconstructed hot hatch: small but punchy with fairly heavy controls and sharpened handling reactions. Anyone used to the muscular but smooth manners of a VW Polo GTI or even a Renaultsport Clio 200 probably won’t be convinced by the VXR’s balance of civility and pace. Still, on its standard suspension settings, the
Vauxhall has a fairly supple ride, doesn’t deafen you with road roar or chassis noise, and has a sufficiently moderate temperament that you could use it every day in reasonable comfort.
The VXR tackles comers with directness, balanced grip and good body control, although it’s a little less agile or engaging than a Ford Fiesta ST or a Mini Cooper S.
The engine’s broad spread of torque allows the VXR to put on speed through the higher gears with real urgency and overtake at will. The engine resists breathlessness at the top end of the rev range, too.
Good spec and a roomy boot
The VXR is a three-door only, so access to the back seats isn’t as easy as with five-door rivals. The boot’s usefully large at 285 litres but a bit encumbered by a narrow opening and a deep lip. The standard part-leather Recaro bucket seats are comfortable, although light on under-thigh and shoulder support.
The dashboard is well finished but the dark swathes of plastic make the cabin feel a little gloomy. Optional leather seats and Vauxhall’s ritzier-looking electronic climate control console improve things a bit. At least a heated windscreen, touchscreen multimedia and cruise control are fitted as standard.
Still a riot but hard to justify No other hot hatchback offers quite as much bang for your buck as the Corsa VXR, and this new one does it with greater maturity and restraint than many will expect.
However, it faces tough competition from Ford Fiesta ST and Mini Cooper S. Both have it variously cornered on desirability, handling poise, cabin ambience and running costs, all of which makes the VXR a hard car to justify.