Road test: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nrburgring

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A thoroughly reworked version of the Corsa VXR that’s improved in virtually every dynamic regard, the 202bhp Nrburgring model adds attitude and ability. And a sizeable price tag too. That said, it looks to have the talent to appeal to those who can look beyond the mainstream badge and recognise it for what it is - a specialist performance car.

The cynical among you are probably thinking, remap, exhaust and a few shiny bits. When news of the Corsa VXR Nrburgring arrived that was exactly what I was expecting. Rather joyously, however, Vauxhall has invested in a smart and meticulous job on the Nrburgring model. The engine first. Power rises from the standard Corsa VXR’s 189bhp to 202bhp (using 98RON petrol) thanks to - you guessed it - a remap and a freer-breathing exhaust. This means 6.5 seconds to 60mph and 143mph. In other words, right in the mix with the hardest of the hatches, the MINI Cooper S JCW and the Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup.

What’s perhaps more impressive is the effort that’s gone into making the Corsa VXR Nrburgring a convincing car through the corners. The standard VXR isn’t a bad little thing but could use higher quality suspension parts. They’re duly supplied here in the form of Bilstein dampers, progressive springs rather than the VXR’s linear-rated items, beefier bumpstops. Best of all, there’s a Drexler mechanical limited slip differential so that you don’t bleed all that power away through an unweighted inside wheel when powering out of corners.

As well as the suspension components, Vauxhall has also fitted lighter Brembo brake calipers, with the same company supplying improved vented discs. There are also lighter forged alloy wheels to further reduce unsprung weight. The stability control and anti-lock braking software has been revised to cope with the new set up.

With revised eagle eye headlights, a body kit and the replacement of the traditional triangular VXR tail pipe with twin round exhaust finishers, the Corsa VXR Nrburgring certainly looks the part. The standard VXR is quite a tall car but this version’s lowered suspension helps its stance significantly. The high-gloss grey alloy wheels and Nrburgring badging also serve to distinguish this Corsa. Two new colours - Grasshopper (green) and Henna (red) are also offered.

It’s hard to see how Vauxhall could have done much better with the VXR Nrburgring. The big-budget feel of the car is due to the fact that it was developed by sister company Opel OPC (Opel Performance Company) as a spin-off project designed to claw revenue back from the Group N rally version of the Corsa VXR that OPC had built for the German Rally Championship. Much of the know-how gleaned from fettling the rally car now sees light of day in the VXR Nrburgring.

All too often we hear that racing improves the breed but rarely has there been such an instant and unambiguous benefit. The Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nrburgring might be saddled with a big badge and a big price tag but it has mighty broad shoulders.

CAR: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nürburgring

PRICE: £22,295

INSURANCE GROUP: 34 [est]

CO2 EMISSIONS: 178g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-60 6.5s / top speed 143mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (urban) 28.5 (extra urban) 45.6 (combined) 37.2mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: stability control, traction control, ABS with EBA & EBD, twin front and side airbags

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 3999/1713/1468