Vauxhall Corsa VXR
It was our top supermini earlier this year, but does the VXR version of the Vauxhall Corsa cut it in this esteemed company?
The Corsa was crowned Best Supermini in our New Car Honours 2007... but that alone isn’t enough to guarantee the VXR variant entry to Greatest Drives. It takes something special to earn a place in this line-up. And for the first time in years, Vauxhall has a baby hot hatch that is on the pace.
Fully kitted out with purposeful bumpers and side skirts, the Corsa is the most aggressively styled car of its type here. Inside, a chunky gearstick, drilled pedals and heavily bolstered seats await you, and once on the move the 189bhp 1.6-litre turbo offers serious performance.
Power delivery is verging on brutal, accompanied by a hard-breathing induction noise. Yet there’s no denying the Corsa’s ability to flex its muscle readily throughout the rev range. There’s also a pliancy to the damping that rivals lack, and as a result it feels surprisingly grown-up and refined. But don’t be fooled. In reality, the Vauxhall isn’t soft or woolly, and body control is impressive over bumpy surfaces.
It turns in sharply and offers surprisingly good grip, while that suspension also helps to give less experienced drivers confidence they might lack in the stiffly sprung Clio.
As a result, when the Corsa is driven at the limit on the track, it will push its nose wider than the Renault. Nor can you adjust the VXR’s attitude with the throttle in the same way as you can in the more agile and edgy French car.
The Corsa feels nose heavy and, as in the MINI Cooper S, the weight shifting over the front axle can unload a front wheel, causing it to spin out of tight corners. Yet it’s a rapid, usable and capable road car, and Vauxhall’s best-ever hot hatch.
- 1Welcome to Greatest Drives 2007We've gathered together this year's hottest cars to fight it out on road and track for the title of Auto Express's Greatest Drives 2007
- 2Mercedes CL63 AMGThe latest Mercedes AMG is a variant of the Bentley Continental-rivalling CL63. Does a two-tonne sports saloon make sense?
- 3BMW 130i M SportAlthough it's the baby of the BMW range, it bears the M Sport pack, giving it a formidable 261bhp
- 4Vauxhall Corsa VXR - currently readingIt was our top supermini earlier this year, but does the VXR version of the Vauxhall Corsa cut it in this esteemed company?
- 5Audi S5It might not be the most thrilling to drive, but the Audi S5 is one of the easiest cars to drive quickly
- 6BMW M5 TouringThe estate version of the BMW M5 is no slouch, but it doesn't feel as special as previous M cars from BMW
- 7Lotus 2-ElevenThe Lotus 2-Eleven is an uncompromised trackday car - driveable, if not comfortable, on the road, but unsurpassed on a circuit
- 8Morgan Aero 8 AmericaThe most visually distinctive car here, the Morgan Aero 8 may look old-fashioned but it's a precise and powerful sports car with an engine note to die for
- 9Vauxhall VXR8The Vauxhall from down-under is very much an old-style muscle car - and the VXR8 knows how to let you have fun
- 10Nissan 350ZA previous overall winner, the Nissan 350Z still impresses in its current incarnation, even if it's not quite as fresh three years later
- 11MINI Cooper SNow a more mature drive, the latest MINI is slightly less fun than previous Cooper models - which is why it's outside the top 10
- 12Caterham Sigma Roadsport 125It's a perennial favourite of Greatest Drives, and this year's Caterham Roadsport is no different - brilliant on the track, a little rough on the road
- 13Fiat Panda 100HPAs much fun as cars 10 times its price, the Fiat Panda 100HP won't set any lap records, but will leave a big smile on your face
- 14Mazda MX-5 RCIt's the top-selling two-seater of all time, but does the Mazda MX-5 still have the flair to challenge for the title of Greatest Drive?
- 15Renaultsport Mégane F1 Team R26The latest F1-inspired Renaultsport Megane has learnt from previous models' failings, and is now a brilliant all-round package
- 16Porsche 911 GT3 RSThe hardcore Porsche 911 GT3 RS is an unequivocal supercar. With incredible performance, the only doubt is its real-world usability - and price tag
- 17Renaultsport Clio 197 F1 Team R27If you thought the Megane was impressive, the hot Renaultsport Clio R27 manages to force its way into the top 5 with sheer poise
- 18Lamborghini Gallardo SuperleggeraThe Lamborghini was the most expensive car on test. Luckily the super-light Gallardo was also the most rewarding to drive
- 19Honda Civic Type RThe Type R version of the Honda Civic is not only the best hot hatch, its chassis makes it one of the best drivers' cars, full stop
- 20Audi R8The hottest car of the year, the Audi R8 isn't perfect, but driving it is such a thrilling experience, you won't care
- 21Porsche Cayman SDespite the presence of serious rivals from Lamborghini and Audi, the amazing Porsche Cayman S retains its title