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Vauxhall Corsa VXR hatchback (2006 – ) expert review

By Stuart Milne, 24th August 2007

The verdict

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR’s bold, in-your-face styling grabs attention wherever it goes. Thankfully its got the ability to back up those looks, being fantastic fun to drive.

Expert rating:

4.0

Pros

  • Bold, aggressive looks
  • Blistering performance
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Torque steer
  • Too much body roll
  • High running costs

Full Review

1. Exterior

Some say the Vauxhall Corsa VXR’s bulky bodykit is over the top, but hot hatches are about standing out from the crowd as much as being fun to drive. It’s available in a range of bold colours, including its trademark red – and the fantastic electric blue our test car was finished in. The VXR wears unique front and rear bumpers, side skirts, honeycombe grille and roof spoiler. But the real stars of the show are the wing mirrors which sit on two stalks and a huge rear ‘diffuser’ on the rear bumper which houses a centrally-mounted exhaust.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The interior features a pair of fantastically supportive half-leather Recaro seats. They are capable of pinning the occupants in, under even the most extreme cornering, and are very comfortable too. VXR logos appear on the gearknob, dials and on the flat-bottomed steering wheel, while the pedals have alloy covers. The centre console is shiny black plastic, and although looking suitably ‘Max Power’, reminds some roadtesters of a cheap home stereo system. The dials always remain illuminated, while the knobs for the stereo, lights and air-con, and the window switches are attractively finished in translucent, illuminated plastic.
Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

For such a small car, the Vauxhall Corsa offers a decent amount of space – more than any previous model. There’s plenty of leg, head and shoulder room in the front, and enough space in the rear for all but the tallest passengers. The floor lifts out and can be stored in the compartment it covers to reveal an additional 135 litres raising the total storage under the parcel shelf to 285 litres. The rear seats split and fold, increasing capacity to 700 litres (to window level) or 1,100 if loaded to the roof.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

The Corsa VXR is fantastic fun on the move, with responsive steering reacting to the tiniest of inputs. Only two things go against the Corsa – slightly too much bodyroll and too much torque steer (that’s when the steering wants to pull to one side under hard acceleration). While the later is perfect for the car’s hooligan demeanour, and becomes quite endearing, the former means the ride quality is excellent for a hot hatch.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

This is a Corsa which will hit 140mph and reach 62mph from rest in 6.8 seconds – a real fireball. That’s because it has a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet, which produces 189bhp and a clever ‘overboost’ function which spins the turbo harder for short periods to add to the VXR’s blistering overtaking potential. The power is channelled to the front wheels via a slick six-speed, close-ratio gearbox.
Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

At more than £15,500, the VXR is one costly Corsa, but it’s priced to do battle with the MINI Cooper S and Renault Clio 197. And insurance, although average for a hot hatch, is an expensive group 16. Vauxhall gives an official average fuel consumption figure of 35.8mpg, which isn’t too bad considering the power available on tap. Emissions of 190g/km of CO2 place it in tax Band F.
Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

The Corsa has been around for a little while now, so any niggles should have been ironed out, and there’s no anecdotal evidence of common problems. The only point of concern should be around crash damage on used examples.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

With its full five-star rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests, the Corsa range is a safe one. The VXR model – like many others in the range – has driver, passenger, front side and curtain airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points. It also comes with ABS, electronic stability programme (ESP) with brake assist, traction control, hill start assistance and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

The Corsa VXR is so well equipped, few buyers need to dip into the options list, unless sat-nav is a must-have. The VXR boasts its bodykit, alloys, sports suspension, uprated brakes, electrically-heated wing mirrors (which don’t fold), cruise control, a trip computer, MP3-compatible CD player, air-con and even a chrome-lipped ashtray.
Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Other hot hatches might handle better on paper, and purists could describe a Corsa VXR at speed as rough around the edges, but it never fails to entertain. It looks like a hot hatch should, with its brash bodykit, and works wonders for Vauxhall’s intoxicating VXR brand. Only the Clio 197 looms large in its mirrors.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.9stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

The Corsa VXR is fantastic fun on the move