Does this car really need an introduction?
I think everyone has had a go in a Corsa VXR by now, and from personal experience I have always loved them for handling. Some years back I begged a lad in Lowestoft to let me loose in his Black Corsa VXR, and I loved it ever since. As time progressed there have been several 'versions', or new releases of the Corsa VXR but essentially it is the same thing.
You get a Turbocharged 1.6 Litre engine, with the same ECU as its older Brother (Astra VXR). Purists may argue that one uses Bosch ME7.6.2 while the other has Bosch ME7.6.3 - they are interchangeable and hold the same size data file. This vehicle visited for Stage 1 tuning, and I took the car for a review at the same time. I love how easy these things are to drive, visibility is really good, and handling is a hoot when driven hard!
The Recaro seats are really (and I mean 'really') comfortable. I could happily drive this car long distance, and not suffer the usual back ache. Heated seats would be a nice option, but I'm not sure they offer such luxuries. I wouldn't say this car is spacious in the back. I hate having passengers in the rear of cars (they are an audible distraction to the task), so the rear is probably best suited for a baby or toddler. Engine capacity in mind - I wouldn't ever want more than one passenger in this vehicle with me, because it would ruin whatever torque the engine was trying to produce.
Piston Four I hear you shout! PISTON FOUR! Okay - there have been some terrible episodes with these engines going 'pop', but look at the typical owner that drives them. Young. No mechanical sympathy. Cheap fuel, and a remap running something insane like 1.5 bar of boost (I have witnessed this in some tuned models) then wonder when things go wrong. If these engines suffer from 'fuel shortage' - maybe that means their tuner requested TOO MUCH BOOST and the car is now running lean as f&%k - regardless of what AFR they set in Lambda Fahrerwunschmoment/Lambdasoll fúr Bauteileschutz. I have tuned at least 50 of these cars, and have no reported engine failures - probably because I err on the side of safety, as opposed to making the best 'dyno' horsepower from a tiny motor. Tuning for the best 'peak' bhp figure on a Rolling Road will either end in tragedy, or a car that drives without 'character' in the real world. Not every engine is the same, and it takes me 3-4-5-6 (or more) adjustments to software in this before I am satisfied with the improved power delivery. If a customer wishes to visit a Rolling Road they can see the improved power figures, but I prefer to modify and test cars in real (not simulated) conditions. Should they choose a Rolling Road remap I also offer that service, it is more expensive option however.
Perfect! Vauxhall always get the chassis right - well - with the exception of the Astra VXR, but that's a topic we will leave open until I get one for review ;-) The chassis is taut. You can throw it at just about anything and it loves it. Great fun. I instantly feel at home behind the wheel.
I'm not a great fan of the VXR 'look' myself. If buying one of these, I would search for a Corsa 1.6T SRI to keep a low profile. The VXR's don't have the best rep, and the triangular exhaust is a BIG giveaway. If I bought a Corsa D it would definitely be the SRI model - same engine - same tuneable power - less attention from people who may want to race against me in a straight line (which for the record, isn't racing).
As standard this model is quite well set up. Throttle response isn't too bad - it picks up speed relatively quickly, and feels nice under my right foot. I have boost set at just over 1.0 bar. The original request was 0.7 bar in from factory. I am tempted to go a little stronger in this car at some point, nothing crazy but 1.1-1.2 bar is probably fine if the vehicle is maintained and driven respectfully. It feels a lot more sprightly with increased boost. I could happily drive around with this power for daily use.
Not too intrusive, which was a surprise. Usually these things bellow tones that make my nose turn with disgust. I think people - all people - should leave their exhausts alone. Its a car.. Its just a car.. If you want a louder car, work harder and buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini. LEAVE YOUR EXHAUSTS ALONE PLEASE. It just makes the car sound tinny and cheap. While you may have a more pronounced 'noise' inside the cockpit, several road users now hate you. Especially four cylinder cars with humongous 4 inch holes at the end (including Subaru Impreza - they're probably the worst). It is an unnecessary modification - none of my cars have aftermarket exhausts, and I tune engines for a living. I could gain a 'whopping' 4bhp by fitting an exhaust system for £700. What is the point in that? Stop it.
As a package - these are really cool cars if you want a nice hatchback on a budget. I would choose the Ford Fiesta MK7 ST180 myself - because Ford have come a long way, and their new 1.0 Litre and 1.6 Litre Ecoboost engines are incredible.
Would I buy this car? No I wouldn't. But that shouldn't put a prospective buyer off them.
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS
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