Britain loves the Vauxhall Corsa and despite never being the sharpest supermini in the box, it’s somehow remained one of our best-selling cars for what feels like an eternity. Now eight years into its life an all-new from the ground-up replacement is due in a couple of months, but that hasn't stopped our insatiable appetite for the Corsa. Even though it’s living on borrowed time, last year we Brits bought 83,000 Corsas and this year, the ageing pensioner has already racked up almost 50,000 sales.
With engineers busying themselves making the finishing touches to the new fifth-gen Vauxhall Corsa, miraculously they’ve found some spare cash to create the Corsa VXR Clubsport. Think of it as Vauxhall’s farewell to the sportiest Corsa ever made.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport: sounds racy, what exactly has Vauxhall done to the VXR?
Not much actually. Based on the Corsa VXR Nurburgring that it replaces, engineers have worked with exhaust specialist Remus to create a new stainless steel twin exhaust for the Corsa that reduces back-pressure.
Vauxhall claims power and torque remain unchanged and that the turbocharged 1.6-litre still produces 202bhp – exactly the same as the old VXR Nurburgring edition.
Any conspiracy theorists out there, or loyal VXR fan, might be tempted to accuse Vauxhall of fibbing to avoid any costly re-homologation of the little VXR Corsa, but for now Vauxhall claims its new Clubsport is no quicker, capable of a 0-60mph dash of 6.5sec and 143mph top speed.
Is that it, just a new exhaust, why should we care? Isn’t the Corsa well past its sell-by date?
It is feeling its age, but in an era where even cars like the Renaultsport Clio 200 have lost their way, a brief drive of the engaging Corsa reminds you why you love small hot hatches in the first place.
We shouldn’t be surprised, though; remember this car is based on the Nurburgring that was a bit of trackday hero with its Bilstein-tuned chassis that sits 20mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the back – it even has inverted dampers (for extra strength on trackdays) and large 305mm discs at the front and 284mm at the rear, plus big Brembo four-piston calipers.
The Clubsport also carries over the Nurburgring’s Drexlar LSD and pair of Recaro seats.
Sounds impressive, so what’s the Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport like to drive?
Terrible and fantastic at the same time! Let’s start with the fantastic. In isolation the Clubsport can feel really wonderful on a tight, twisty B-road. The smooth-spinning turbocharged 1.6-litre hurtles to its redline and provides a useful 207lb ft, briefly on over-boost from just 2250rpm. What dominates the Clubsport experience and separates the small hot hatch from the likes of the Renaultsport and Fiesta ST Mountune (more on that car later) is its limited slip differential. Flatten the throttle and even in the tightest of curves the Corsa’s nose is dragged back to the apex. It means cross-country it has unbeatable traction – and pace.
But it is far from perfect. The ride when not flat-out on B-roads is very compromised and sometimes makes you feel like you’re riding a pogo stick.
When you’re not in the mood that diff will begin to grate, tugging the steering wheel with every provocation of the throtttle. The Recaro seats, meanwhile, are mounted too high and it’s not easy to feel comfortable behind the wheel and the interior feels as old as it is.
But if it’s cheap, surely you can forgive a few foibles?
And that’s the the biggest problem with the Clubsport. It’s hideously expensive and costs an eye watering £22,400. A Ford Fiesta ST ST2 with the Mountune upgrades (that boosts power to 212bhp) costs £18,849 - £3551 less and that car is quicker in a straight line, more comfortable, has a better interior and is better all-round. That said, it doesn’t have the diff and if you track it its brakes will soon cook themselves.
Anything else we need to know about the Corsa VXR Clubsport?
Even at its stratospheric price, you still have to cough up an outrageous £315 for Bluetooth. Avoid the geriatric £750 touch screen satnav too – it’s not very good.
Averaging 37.3mpg and emitting 178g/km of CO2 it’s also one of the thirstiest hot hatches money can buy. Even the BMW’s M135i is more efficient.
Surprisingly hardcore Corsa is great fun and engaging when you’re in the mood, but expensive and dated when you’re not. Only consider if you’re in the market for a front-wheel drive track day hero.