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Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring

We push Vauxhall's track-inspired new Corsa VXR to the limit to see if it can topple Renault's all conquering Clio RS

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We’ll reserve final judgement on the Nürburgring Edition until we see how it copes with UK potholes, but first impressions on the track are good. This is a quick, sharp, and entertaining little hot hatch. The scope of its chassis upgrades, including its LSD, suspension and brakes, puts it in a league of its own in the supermini sector. The big issue is price, though: it’s over £5,000 more expensive than its purer, and more exciting, Renaultsport Clio Cup rival. 

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It’s the fastest Corsa ever! This VXR Nürburgring Edition is a more focused version of Vauxhall’s smallest hot hatch – and we got behind the wheel to try it. The car has been developed at sister firm Opel’s Performance Centre inside Germany’s legendary race circuit complex, hence the badges on the car we drove.

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Its 1.6-litre turbo is boosted to 202bhp – up from 189bhp – while torque increases by 20Nm to 250Nm, with a temporary overboost function upping this to 280Nm in short bursts. This potential has come from revised engine management software, an uprated turbo and a new sports exhaust, which replaces the standard
central triangular tailpipe with twin circular units.

Other visual tweaks include the latest ‘eagle-eye’ headlights and a mean bodykit. Engineers have revised the chassis, too, and it’s these changes that aim to justify the near-£4,000 premium over the standard model. The car gets a limited-slip differential (LSD) to improve grip. It’s a mechanical system, and more effective than the electronic versions found in hot hatches such as the VW Golf GTI.

The VXR’s standard brakes are replaced by a Brembo set-up that’s 30 per cent lighter, and provides greater stopping power. Also new is the suspension, with springs and dampers by Bilstein; the Nürburgring Edition rides 20mm lower than a regular VXR.

Our time with it was limited to the track, although clearly this special Corsa has been transformed. There’s so much grip that, at times, it follows the road like a bobsled! However, the LSD is quite forceful, partly removing you from the action by pulling the car round corners. It never feels as pure as the Renaultsport Clio, for instance.

The engine is a highlight, with plenty of pulling power and a great bark from the new tailpipes. Standard equipment includes leather Recaro bucket seats, which are embossed with the Nürburgring logo, and 18-inch alloys. But they can’t quite hide the Corsa’s humble supermini origins. And away from the circuit, that’s sure to be a bit of a bugbear when you look at the price tag.

Rival: Renaultsport Clio Cup
Cheaper, stripped-out version of Renaultsport’s legendary hot hatch is also the best. It trails the VXR for power and ultimate grip, but is the more entertaining car. 

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