A Corsa VXR probably doesn't feature high on on your hot hatch shortlist. This one certainly should
By Cam Tait / Thursday, 19 October 2023 / Loading comments
Where have all the small hot hatches gone? The Renault Clio R.S. is no more, the Ford Fiesta ST has one foot in the grave and a Toyota GR Yaris will set you back at least £30,000. And it isn’t front-wheel drive. That leaves you the ageing Abarth 595, the (admittedly very good) Hyundai i20N and whatever Mini has up its sleeve for the new Cooper. That’s it.
Fear not, hot hatch lovers (which is all of us, right?) because though the future of the pocket rocket is uncertain, the classifieds will always be brimmed with affordable thrills in three-or-five-door packages. We’ve all had our eye on a Renaultsport Clio at one stage, while a Fiesta ST of any generation still offers some of the best bang-for-buck hot hatchery on the market. Chances are, however, that the Vauxhall Corsa VXR doesn’t appear at the top of your hot hatch wish list. It offers big horsepower for peanuts, though it lacks the agility of the equivalent Clio. That’s how it goes for the standard car, anyway. For the Nurburgring Edition we have here, it’s a completely different story.
It’s been a while since a car manufacturer has slapped the Nurburgring name onto a performance car to help shift sales, but back in the early 2010s it served as some sort of gold seal of approval. It wasn’t just a marketing ploy for the Corsa VXR, either. The Nurburgring Edition really was honed at the Green Hell, resulting in new Bilstein dampers being fitted, the ride height being lowered by 20mm at the front and 15mm at the rear, not to mention the introduction of a Drexler limited-slip differential and uprated Brembo brakes.
The changes had a drastic effect on the car’s handling. Speaking of the mechanically identical Clubsport back in 2020, Dan P said he had “never come across a more effective LSD” in a hot hatch since. “I could hurl it into the tighter bends at whatever speed I liked, knowing that as long as it pointed the front wheels in roughly the right direction and flattened the accelerator pedal, the diff would haul the car through without a trace of understeer or even wheelspin.” High praise for a Vauxhall, especially as VXR products of the era were the hot hatch equivalents of blunt instruments.
Of course, Vauxhall couldn’t resist upping the power now that it had sorted out the Corsa’s chassis. The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot was tuned to 205hp and 184lb ft, 13hp and 14 more torques than the regular VXR. That slashed 0.2 seconds off the 0-62mph time, now down to 6.5 seconds, and bumped up the top speed to 143mph. The aggressive styling was untouched, save for a set of lightweight forged wheels, though the interior benefitted from a set of grippy Recaro sports seats and (as far as I can tell) they came fully loaded as standard.
Even then, the Nurburgring Edition was still on the pricey side. It went on sale in 2011 for £22,295, making it considerably more expensive than the equivalent Fiesta ST and Mini Cooper S. But we’re not in 2011, and the subsequent 12 years have seen used values fall by around 50 per cent. That does mean you’ll still be paying a not inconsiderable £9,100 for this example here, though it’s only clocked 28,000 miles and looks to have been cherished by its previous owners. And in the world of used Corsa VXRs, a well-looked-after example that hasn’t been chipped to high heaven is very much a rarity. It’s easy to follow the herd and pick up a Clio R.S., but do the daring thing instead and go for the Vauxhall. The Nurburgring Edition will reward you for it.
SPECIFICATION | VAUXHALL CORSA VXR NURBURGRING EDITION
Engine: 1,598cc four-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 205@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@2,250-5,550rpm
Year registered: 2012
Recorded mileage: 28,000
Price new: £22,295
Yours for: £9,100
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