First Drive: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport

Sharp steering and bags of front-end grip make the Corsa VXR a first-class point-to-point machine
Sharp steering and bags of front-end grip make the Corsa VXR a first-class point-to-point machine
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The latest evolution of the Corsa VXR is a bit of an animal, and it’s very easy to see why you’d want one.

The Clubsport is a development of the Corsa VXR Nurburgring, with a more powerful evolution of the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a new, freer-flowing exhaust to release a few extra horses, taking the new total to 202bhp.

The snappy Drexler mechanical limited-slip differential remains, but the ABS and traction control systems have been recalibrated to account for the Clubsport’s altogether harder, more 
aggressive approach to country roads.

The Corsa VXR has always been the Astra VXR’s better-looking younger brother, and so it remains. The Corsa’s proportions are just perfect and, in black, the Clubsport sits on its large, black wheels like a puma ready to pounce.

Its image is neither of one end of the hot hatch market nor the other, neither the driver’s choice nor the comfortable all-rounder, but the Clubsport has been tweaked into existence with such purpose and performance intent that it’s impossible to ignore.

There are all the usual Corsa practicality features like a decent-sized boot, but the wide, supportive seats can get in the way of passengers trying to get past the long doors into the back. Those long doors pose another problem when you’re trying to reach all the way back to grab the seat belt, but ultimately that’s the same in most three-door 
superminis.

Vauxhall’s VXR cars have a justifiable reputation for lunacy and the Clubsport has a healthy dash of it – although it doesn’t necessarily define the car. The steering is incredibly fast and direct, which, in tandem with the remarkable front-end grip provided by the special differential, makes this Corsa unbelievably darty and agile.

It can feel frantic in really tight, twisty sections and you have to be on your game to keep it in check, but chasing its actual limits of capability is as focusing as being the last runner at the Pamplona bull run. But on slightly more open B-roads the Clubsport’s firm suspension relaxes and the car falls into an impressive rhythm, flowing rapidly across country in a composed but exciting way.

The seats offer seriously impressive lateral support to let you load up the outside wheels without fear of sliding out of your chair. This is a car in which a keen driver can instantly feel happy to push on and enjoy themselves.

The Corsa is quite a lot pricier than its key rival, the Ford Fiesta ST. It has one or two things that the Ford doesn’t, and that frisky front end is a charm unique to this car, but there is very stiff competition for less money. You might be justified in simply wanting this one more, though.

One item to consider is that it needs to be run on pricier premium unleaded fuel, which might make a further dent in your wallet. Younger buyers who are nonetheless old enough to afford the insurance will love the Clubsport. It has advanced drivetrain tech and bucketfuls of adrenaline running through its pipework, so young men, in particular, will engage with it. It’s not too firm to preclude its use as a daily car for that demographic, either.

VITAL STATS

Car Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport

Price £22,390

Engine 1.6-litre turbo petrol, 4 cyl, 202bhp, 207 lb ft

Performance Max speed 143mph; 0-62mph 6.5s

Economy 37.2mpg

CO2 emissions 178g/km