Vauxhall took the wraps off the new Corsa VXR, its ultra-powerful small hot-hatch, at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show last month.
Benefiting from the significant revisions in technology, interior/exterior design and chassis showcased in the recently launched New Corsa, the VXR is set to raise the bar for small, fast hatchbacks when it appears in UK showrooms in May.
First launched in 2007, the Corsa VXR is now in its second generation. The original car spawned four special editions: VXRacing, VXR Artic, VXR Nürburgring and VXR Clubsport. UK sales exceed 9,000 vehicles.
Priced from £17,995 on-the-road, the Corsa VXR’s list price has been rolled back by over £1,000 versus the outgoing model. It’s also less expensive than key competitors including the Volkswagen Polo GTi, the Renault Sport Clio and the Ford Fiesta ST2.
Customers can now buy a VXR Performance Pack for £2,400 which specs the Corsa VXR up to a Nürburgring/Clubsport equivalent, but for £2,000 less than the previous model. The pack features a motorsport-derived Drexler Limited Slip Differential (LSD), Brembo four-piston brakes and re-tuned Koni FSD system above the standard set up.
Making it even more affordable, the Corsa VXR will be available on either zero per cent Flexible Finance or Flexible PCP with a £500 Vauxhall deposit contribution.
Headline performance figures for the Corsa VXR are 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 143mph – quicker than the outgoing car, but more importantly the VXR produces its 245Nm of torque from lower revs (between 1,900rpm – 5,800rpm, compared with 2,250rpm – 5,500rpm for the outgoing Nürburgring and ClubSport models). This makes the VXR a potent performer between 50-75mph, which it can dispatch in just 6.4 seconds in fifth gear.
An overboost facility provides an additional 35Nm of torque, ideal for swift and safe overtaking. Maximum power from its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is 205PS, while the Corsa VXR achieves 37.7mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 174g/km.
Vauxhall’s powertrain engineers had to re-develop numerous components in the VXR’s engine to achieve its impressive performance values.
“We initially thought that the Nürburgring Edition of the Corsa VXR represented the end of the line from a developmental point of view,” said Volker Strycek, Vauxhall/Opel’s Director Performance Cars and Motorsport.
“But the new Corsa VXR actually makes its predecessors look almost ordinary. Improved power delivery across the entire rev band, more power especially at low revs and moderate consumption for a car with this performance including compliance with Euro-6 emissions standard make the Corsa VXR a benchmark in its class.”
Engineers constructed a completely new intake line leading to the turbocharger. A new intercooler is also used. New fuel injectors, controlled by the new engine management system, ensure an even finer and more precise delivery of fuel. This results in a noticeable improvement in responsiveness, especially at low engine speeds, and optimised power output at higher engine speeds.
The exhaust system is almost completely new. Working with exhaust specialists Remus, Vauxhall engineers developed a new exhaust manifold with an integrated turbocharger.
They also sound engineered to Lex Ferrari, a rule on pass-by-noise. An amendment in the European regulation allows performance cars over 190PS output and 102PS/ton to produce one extra decibel. The Corsa VXR twin-pipe exhaust is exactly in line with legal pass-by-noise regulations.
As before, power is delivered to the front wheels via a second-generation six-speed transmission with a short, fluid gear change. The gearbox features a new design shift lever, shift cable and bearing cap with adjusted end stops. This helps reduce shift travel by 13 per cent versus this outgoing model.
Vauxhall has worked closely with damper-supplier, Koni, to develop a new technology, known as Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) for the new Corsa VXR.
FSD allows damping forces to adapt to the car’s movements, ensuring that body control is maintained when the car is driven fast, but ride quality is optimised at lower speeds. The systems is an entirely mechanical solution and does not require any electronic components such as sensors, cables or engine control units. In addition, the car’s ride height has been lowered by 10mm all round.
There’s also a new rear axle with new geometry for a modified roll rate. In combination with a new torsion profile rod, this results in improved responsiveness compared to the outgoing model. The Corsa VXR’s spring rates, anti-roll bars, rear-axle bearing bushes are also new or revised.
For the first time, Vauxhall is offering a two-stage switchable electronic stability programme (ESP) and traction control (TC) with the Corsa VXR. In Competition Mode the traction control is inactive, while the ESP is relaxed to allow less intervention. For track use, the ESP can be fully disabled.
“A high degree of driving involvement was our priority right from the start of development,” said Volker Strycek, Vauxhall/Opel’s Director Performance Cars & Motorsport.
Revisions have been made to the new Corsa VXR’s steering, making it more direct and precise, with improved feedback through the wheel. Michelin 215/45 R17 tyres are standard, as are 308mm front brake discs.
For Corsa VXR customers keen to enhance their car’s dynamics still further, Vauxhall is offering an optional Performance Package, which includes certain features previously seen in the outgoing Nürburgring and ClubSport models. Priced keenly at £2,400, highlights include a Drexler limited-slip differential, larger 330mm-diameter Brembo front brake discs, 18-inch alloy wheels with super sticky Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres and more focused FSD damper settings.
“The Performance Pack is the Corsa VXR’s entry ticket for the race track,” added Strycek.
Standard bi-xenon lighting and a choice of six exterior colours help the new Corsa VXR stand out in its class. An aggressive new front-end design features large air intakes and an aluminium-framed opening below the headlights. A small scoop is located below the bonnet and side-sill extensions enhance the Corsa VXR’s performance credentials still further. At the rear, a rear spoiler provides meaningful downforce over the back axle, and twin Remus exhaust pipes further distinguish it from regular Corsas.
Six exterior colours – including Flash Blue, which is unique to the Corsa VXR – are available for the Corsa VXR. The car’s cabin has standard Recaro seats, a leather, flat-bottomed steering wheel, sports pedals, as well as a VXR gear-lever and instruments. A heated front windscreen and Intellilink connectivity for Apple iOS and Android smartphones are also standard.
In addition to the Performance Pack, other new options for Corsa VXR are the VXR Carbon Pack which will include carbon fibre effect mirrors covers and front grille logo bar priced at £150.
A Panoramic glass sunroof is also now available which was only previously available on the Corsa VXR Arctic Edition.
Also available is the VXR Technical Pack which includes forward collision alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, following distance indicator, electro-chromatic anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Standard equipment includes:
Vauxhall’s Corsa VXR is the latest addition to the VXR brand which currently consists of three other cars: Astra VXR, the Insignia VXR and the VXR8 GTS.
Having celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, the VXR range has been embraced by UK car enthusiasts, and has built up a loyal following to the brand with sales exceeding 20,000 vehicles. As a result, Britain has always been the leading market in Europe for Vauxhall/Opel performance cars, known as OPCs in other countries.
The first cars to bear the VXR nameplate were the VXR220 and the Monaro VXR, both of which were launched at the British Motor Show in Summer 2004. Number One VXR220 still resides in Vauxhall’s Heritage Centre, while the Monaro VXR – ‘…a true rear-wheel drive car for enthusiasts’ – was 40 per cent cheaper than a BMW 6-series at launch, yet developed 330PS from it 5.7-litre V8 engine.
But sports cars and rear-drive coupes haven’t been the only models subjected to VXR makeovers. The Zafira and Meriva MPVs were unlikely candidates, but proved that up to 240PS in a front-wheel drive people-carrier needn’t be an unruly experience. Chassis development at the Nordschleife helped, as did a raft of cabin upgrades, including Recaro front seats.
More recently, models like the Astra VXR and Corsa VXR ClubSport have adopted sophisticated differential technology to cater for ever-increasing power outputs. Manufactured by Drexler, the units help power to be applied more effectively through bends, giving the impression that driver is being pulled towards the apex under power.
And technological innovation is now the VXR bedrock. Torque Vectoring and magnetorheological damping (VXR8 GTS), adaptive all-wheel drive (Insignia VXR), FlexRide adaptive damping (Astra and Insignia VXRs), as well as generous levels of standard equipment in all VXRs have made the range a firm favourite with British enthusiasts.