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  1. #21
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    17th December 2005

    Default Corsa D, 1.6iT (Z16LET),, 16/03/07
    By: Farah AlKhalisi
    Date: 16/03/2007
    Found by user: CATS

    Approaching the Corsa VXR from behind doesn't lead to the best of first impressions: with its squat wheel-to-each-corner stance, broad wheel arches and hind quarters, and gaping hole of a centrally positioned big-bore exhaust pipe, it resembles nothing so much as a bull terrier's bottom. It looks as if it should proceed with a wide-legged waddle, not a smooth forward motion.

    Thankfully, the VXR's a bit better looking from the front. The mesh grille and deep bumper with large integrated foglights set an appropriate tone, and it looks as if Vauxhall has done a good job in pre-empting the bodykitters: why pay out on an aftermarket styling pack when the car already looks like this?

    Butched-up Corsas are so often a case of all show and no go; base 1.2s fitted with half the contents of the Demon Tweeks catalogue in an attempt to make an impression on the streets without being totally uninsurable for a young (male) driver. The VXR, however, is the real deal, with a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine developing 192bhp and 170lb-ft of torque, and an extra 27lb-ft available momentarily on overboost.

    Top speed's claimed to be 140mph, and 0-62mph acceleration takes just 6.8 seconds. Yippee! Oh, and just to get back to the harsh realities of life: fuel consumption's 35.8mpg and carbon dioxide output 190g/km. That means a relatively high tax banding for such a small car. Quite reasonable for something this quick, though.

    Hint of danger
    The pricing's pretty reasonable: the basic package, which includes air conditioning, a CD/MP3 player, electric front windows, remote central locking and 17" alloy wheels, comes in at £15,995. It could tot up sharply with a few options added, however: leather upholstery weighs in at another £1,000, 18" wheels a further £400, adaptive-beam halogen headlights £250, Bluetooth phone compatibility £300, or rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror at £150. Adding metallic or pearlescent paint is a £350 option.

    So they're not exactly giving it away. Still, its pricing is head-to-head with the Renaultsport Clio and the 175bhp Peugeot 207 GTi, and it comes in cheaper than the new Mini Cooper S.

    The Corsa VXR is a very good laugh in an attainable package. As with the common-or-garden Corsas, it feels absolutely solid and stable under hard cornering, confidence-inspiring to drive hard and fast, and predictable and progressive in its steering: it doesn't feel like the most sophisticated of sports cars, but as a damn quick little hatch, it fits the bill nicely.

    It gives just enough of a hint of danger to be rewarding - the subtle suggestion that its tail end could swing out, a wobble towards torque-steer under full throttle. Its stability control and rev limiter are configured to step in and stop things from getting too out of hand, making this the hot hatch with a helping hand.

    Surprisingly civilised
    It was never going to feel quite like one of the rollerskate hot hatches of the 80s, given the need to meet modern safety legislation, but even with the full load of side airbags and structural reinforcements the VXR still comes in at just 1,203kg, light enough for that gutsy engine - with help from the turbocharger - to have no problems propelling it at speed.

    The VXR should be relatively easy to own and use on a daily basis. Its suspension is lowered by 12mm at the front and 19mm at the rear, but even with the 18" wheels the ride remains comfortable. It's firm, but copes well with rough surfaces, and noise levels are low and general intrusion from the outside world is well contained... except the sound of the exhaust, of course, no bad thing at all.
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  2. #22
    VXR Torque of the Devil Sheriff's Avatar
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    17th December 2005

    Default Corsa D, 1.6iT (Z16LET), Pictures

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  3. #23
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    17th December 2005

    Default Corsa D, 1.6iT (Z16LET),, 03/05/07

    Compared to the brutish Astra VXR, Vauxhall's sporting Corsa VXR supermini is far more honed and rounded
    Rating: 3/5

    For: Handles and rides better than a MINI Cooper S, entertaining engine, superb cockpit.

    Against: Wild looks divide opinion, steering vague around the straight-ahead.

    The most powerful Corsa ever packs a 1.6-litre turbo engine shared with the Meriva VXR. Here's it's uprated from 177bhp to 189bhp, thanks to a revised induction system and re-routed exhaust. The engine's characteristics are similar to the Astra VXR's - it roars purposefully, has a broad powerband and a snappy throttle. Small openings cause it to surge forward, which is entertaining, but makes the VXR tricky to drive in town. The pedals aren't that positive, either. But with an overboost function that, on full throttle, increases the torque from 230Nm to 266Nm, the Corsa is fast. Its 30-70mph time is quicker than a VW Golf R32's. Strong brakes and a snappy gearchange further enhance the package. The chassis follows the same lines; it's lower and roll has been cut by 25 per cent. It was tested on UK roads during development, and the benefits are clear. Vauxhall has struck a sweet pot with the set-up; it's great fun to drive, yet never loses its composure or becomes uncomfortable. Cross-country blasts are a riot, too. Where the Astra VXR is rather harsh, its little brother is more fluent in the bents. It has great turn-in and is well balanced, yet never feels edgy or intimidating. So even though it spins an inside wheel on roundabouts and has vague steering around the straight-ahead, the VXR is engaging and fun.

    Are you VXR enough? Vauxhall's advertising slogan has helped make the VXR brand one of the most high profile in the industry. This has been helped by Vauxhall pinning it on everything from a two-seat sports car to a seven-seat MPV. But if its hardcore appeal has been diluted recently, the Corsa should give some bite back to the brand. Certainly, with its triangular-themed central exhaust, mirrors and front foglights, it's about as subtle as a bull in a china shop. In short, it polarises opinion; just what the creators of the brand want - not least because they hope younger buyers who can't quite stretch to it will go for an SXi or SRi Corsa, and fit some of the VXR's features as accessories. Rivals include the ubiquitous MINI Cooper S and RenaultSport Clio 197, plus the VW Polo GTI and Peugeot 207 GTI.

    Compared to the bodywork, the cabin is upmarket. It boasts a superb driving position and fantastic chairs. With a wide range of steering reach adjustment and hard-backed Recaro seats (which share side airbag units with the Lamborghini Gallardo), it is all but unbeatable for driver comfort and support. It also has glossy piano black trim and a neat centre console. However, the angled A-pillars restrict visibility, the long doors make access tricky in tight spaces and mean the front seatbelt is set back a long way, so it's hard to reach. The VXR-branded gearknob is also awkwardly shaped and looks out of place in such a small interior. Maintaining a Corsa VXR is a cheap business though, which may compensate for fuel consumption - in our hands, it averaged 31.2mpg. Retained values are unlikely to match the class-leading MINI Cooper S, either.
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  4. #24
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    17th December 2005

    Default Corsa D, 1.6iT (Z16LET),, '07
    By: Andrew English

    Vuxhall's new Corsa VXR is meant to be annoying, but is it any good?

    'This music was acceptable in the 80s," sings Calvin Harris in his knowing and horribly catchy electro-pop release. Cars like this new Vauxhall Corsa VXR were acceptable in the 1980s, too. I remember them well: standard Euro-hatchbacks with horribly peaky turbo boost, lairy graphics and always-on foglamps - Southend seafront specials.

    I was told off for calling the Corsa VXR thus by Vauxhall's brand manager. This was at the car's launch when, for one night only, Vauxhall transformed Goodwood's elegant sculpture park into a hell's kitchen nightclub filled with snake dancers, satanic nymphs, fire-eaters and hostesses in thigh-high boots and PVC catsuits. While middle Britain was vacillating about its green credentials, food miles and offsetting holiday carbon, Vauxhall was launching its new fire-breathing shopping trolley in the most un-PC way.

    Well hello pot, meet kettle.

    Actually we're both right. These cars are meant to be Biro-in-the-eye annoying. They are meant to blow a big, fat, chromium-plated raspberry at arrogant chief coppers, doom-saying environmentalists and the sanctimonious mummery of Gordon and David playing Texas Hold'em with our "green" taxes.

    Yet the Corsa's predecessor, the Nova, has become a sort of counter-culture idol, breathed on (cosmetically rather than mechanically) by young folk as an expression of freedom, artistic intent, rebellion or whatever. For a brilliant send-up of this hot Nova culture, have a look at Gaz's new car at…y-new-car.html - in fact, the whole website is a perfect scream. No it's not exactly Britain's alternative to the American hot-rod, found in Sainsbury's car parks rather than LA's Melrose Avenue, but at least it's a bit of fun before you get moved on by the police.

    Vauxhall has always tried to hold on to the lion's tail of this counter culture by making its own hepped-up Novas and Corsas, with varied degrees of success. The VXR badge, though, is an altogether more confident stab at creating a performance brand through the whole model range, although we're still a bit puzzled as to what exactly the VXR version of the Meriva compact MPV is for.

    The nice thing about the VXR Corsa is that its lairy style is more than skin deep, although you can buy the devilish wing mirrors to perk up your bog-standard 1.0-litre Corsa Expression. Step inside the three-door cabin and the standard Recaro seats hug you tighter than a dancer's python. Those Lilliputian rear perches are not exactly accommodating, but then they're only for taking Kevin's sister to the fish shop. There's a VXR logo on the gearknob - very acceptable in the 1980s - and the dashboard gleams with polished aluminium-alloy bezels and piano-black lacquer. Red-lined instrument needles fizz up and down the gradations when you turn the key, just like a racing car's Stack telemetry. Fortunately all this standard bling doesn't hide the Corsa's innate good style and comfort. Pity there's only one ancillary gauge, though; perhaps VXR owners aren't familiar with the idea of oil pressure and water temperature - we live in a throwaway society, after all.

    The engine is a belt-driven twin-cam four-pot with a whacking great Borg Warner turbocharger producing 189bhp and overboosted torque spike of 196lb ft for five seconds, or just about the time it takes to put yourself in harm's way. The six-speed manual gearbox takes power to the front wheels with a specially tuned electronic stability control, which is claimed to allow you to have fun without too much danger - or you can switch it off... Standard 17-inch wheels can be swapped for the £400 18in option. The steering is a variable-ratio, power-assisted rack and pinion, which gets more direct the harder you turn.

    “The VXR feels like a Tasmanian devil on a short lead... its Recaro seats grip you tighter than a dancer’s python”

    At idle the engine burbles softly but noticeably. The gearlever slots positively and quickly and the clutch is light and progressive. Just yards down the road it's clear the turbo is noticeable in the way a modern turbodiesel's is not. There's that shunt as the boost comes off and on between gear changes, the slightly empty space halfway up the rev counter, the surging lift at 3,500rpm and the terrorising force at 6,500rpm. If the hoarse soundtrack is that of someone who spent too much time chatting up the cage dancer in the nightclub last night, it's better than it sounds. This is a seriously fast little car, more than capable of embarrassing a lot of metal costing twice, perhaps even three times, the money. Nor is it an unpleasant, snappy little beast; in many aspects it's very refined, but it never lets you forget what it likes to do best: attack, attack, attack!

    Vauxhall pushed us out onto the 2.4 miles of the Goodwood motor circuit to explore the outer limits of the handling. I've been racing cars at Goodwood for more than 25 years and am too fearful of the toll that Britain's fastest track can extract to do too much exploring. What I can say is that on 18in wheels the little Corsa is fast, well balanced and fairly idiot-proof on the circuit, which usually means a car is going to be rubbish on the road. Out on the public black stuff, the handling starts with the steering. While this is no Focus RS, which could swap sides of the road at a twitch of the throttle, the Corsa's sense of direction goes a bit awry at different stages of acceleration. Like the best bowlers, the tyres will edge a tiny crease in the road and wham - you're turning even harder. When the boost hits the front wheels the steering goes all light and vacant, as if it's forgotten what it went upstairs for. In other words, the car lets you know what you are doing with the accelerator, occasionally at the expense of telling you how much grip the tyres have got.

    The ride is effervescent and busy from the word go. Smooth at high speeds, the slower you go, the more the front end attacks the road rather than riding over it. It's not exactly uncomfortable, but lumpy and bunny-hoppy at times. It does make you feel blatantly confident, though, as if you've been parachuted to the road.

    Compared to its closest competitors, the Renault Clio 197 and the MINI, it's somewhere in the middle, but with a plan to sell just 2,500 it's going to be a great deal more exclusive. In its latest guise the MINI Cooper S has gone soft but more refined. You can still spec it up to ride like a trolley jack, but the Corsa is wilder, more wicked and a great deal more fun - yes, you can just about hang the tail out by lifting off in corners. The Renault is a lot more hardcore; its two-litre engine needs more winding up and it demands a great deal more respect and concentration to drive fast than both rivals.

    The Corsa VXR is above all an honest car, feeling as though it has been tamed to the right side of sensible, but only just, like a Tasmanian devil on a short lead. The seating position is good, the pedal spacing is brilliant, you get through the gears like a racing arpeggio and, above all, it really urges you to get it on. The joke is that very few young people will be able to afford it, or the insurance premiums, so if you see a VXR doing doughnuts outside Homebase on a Sunday night, you'll know it's some delinquent pensioner being a devil - so give some respect.
    Vauxhall Corsa VXR [tech/spec]
    Price/availability: £15,595 OTR. On sale now.

    Engine/transmission: 1,598cc, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol with belt-driven DOHC and four valves per cyl; 189bhp at 5,850rpm, 169lb ft at 1,980rpm with overboost to 196lb ft. Six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive.

    Performance: top speed 140mph, 0-60mph in 6.8sec, EU Urban fuel consumption 26.9mpg, CO2 emissions 190g/km.

    We like: Good old-fashioned hot hatchback, well appointed with riotous performance and good, predictable handling.

    We don't like: Lairy image, busy ride and uncommunicative steering that's affected by torque steer.

    Alternatives: MINI Cooper S, from £15,995. Honda Civic Type R, from £17,600. Peugeot 207 GTi 197 THP 175, from £14,995. Renault Clio RS 197, from £15,995. Seat Leon Cupra, from £19,595. Volkswagen Golf 2.0 FSI GTI, from £20,860.
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  5. #25
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    17th December 2005

    Default Corsa D, 1.6iT (Z16LET),, 20/5/07
    From: The Sunday Times
    Date: May 20, 2007
    By: Jeremy Clarkson

    When you first spend a bit of face time with the new Corsa VXR you can’t help thinking, “God Almighty. Can Vauxhall never get anything right?”

    It appears to have crashed into an out-of-town motorist accessory superstore and emerged on the other side with every single part attached to every single bit of its bodywork. There are spoilers, extra lamps, fat wheels, Philishave, Just For Men bits of aluminium-look plastic here and there, and sills like an American footballer’s work garb.

    This might have worked 10 years ago when every supermarket car park echoed on a Saturday night to the pulsating bass beat of the customising culture and Max Power was one of Britain’s bestselling magazines. But today Max Power’s circulation is in freefall – down from 240,000 in 2003 to just 71,000 last year.

    The trend for young people to fit exhausts like Kazakhstan pipelines and illuminate the underside of their cars with neon is over. Just as Vauxhall gets round to milking it.

    This is not the first time the British arm of General Motors has missed the boat. You remember the first Vectra. Designed in a rush by a man who was plainly going through a messy divorce, it had a bonnet, a place where people sat, a boot and an engine.

    It would have been fine for the Terry and June company car rep who had no choice in the matter. But it came along just as the rep scene was dying, and Terry and June was affording us nothing more than a glimpse into the nation’s “ooh look, there’s a black man” past. In fact we were in a coffee bar, experimenting with zinc-topped work surfaces and skinny lattes. And Vauxhall was still trying to sell us British Rail tea with wheels.

    And now, just as everyone is going green, they’re trying to sell us a Saturday night supermarket car park special. G force? Who cares. All the youth want today is a G-Wiz.

    The thing is, though, and you can call me old-fashioned if you like but – ahem – I rather like the look of the new Corsa. Think of it as a council house at Christmas time. Utterly vulgarised by a million plastic Santas and two zillion fairy lights. But it puts a smile on your face and what more could you ask than that?

    I also like the interior. The seats are of a type I thought had gone west with the old Escort RS2000. They’re big Recaros with lots of side bolster. Not easy to get in and out of, for sure, but once you’re in place you aren’t going anywhere. Even if you attempt a hairpin at 600mph.

    The rest of the interior is as insane as the exterior. Take the steering wheel. They’ve fitted a flat bit at the bottom and coated that in plastic, which is supposed to look like aluminium. At the top you get a marker to show you where straight ahead is. Then, at 10 to 2, you have knobbly bits, which is fine – it reminds you of the correct place to have your hands while driving. But you get similar knobbly bits at 20 to 4.

    The upshot is something that’s no more circular than the trunk of a baobab tree. Let it slide through your hands after making a turn and you’ll end up with a fistful of broken knuckles.

    The idea is that you feel like Colin McRae before you’ve even turned the key. But what you’re actually doing is trying to suppress a giggle. Because while all these race’n’rally add-on parts give the car a purposeful – if dated – appearance, you just know that the badge on the back says Vauxhall, which is bad, and Corsa, which is to motoring what Nicholas Witchell is to wrestling.

    Every single Corsa I’ve ever driven has been terrible, with wooden controls, asthmatic engines and nothing in either the price list or in the styling that made me want to sign on the dotted line. In a spoof advert for the Corsa, shown on the Sniff Petrol website, there was a picture of the little Vauxhall and underneath a line that said: “Show the world you know nothing about cars.” Bang on.

    It did, just, as a device for driving schools, but if I’d learnt to drive in a Corsa I’d have done one lesson and given up on the whole business of cars. The bus would have seemed a better option. Also, it was a cheap-to-insure starting point for the Max Power boys. But even they’ve moved on these days.

    And let’s be honest, Vauxhall hasn’t. So the chances of the new Corsa’s undersides being able to cash the cheques its body and steering wheel are writing are, frankly, zero.

    Wrong. With a turbocharged 1.6 litre engine it will hit 60 from rest, without too much torque steer, in less than seven seconds. Keep churning away at the manly six-speed box and in fairly short order the needle will be nudging 140. That’s fast for any hot hatch. For a small Vauxhall it’s amazing.

    Better still is the way it corners. The lifelessness of old is gone and in its place is a chassis that lets the tail drift when the limit is reached. It puts me in mind of an old Peugeot 205 GTi, and that’s about the highest praise you can lavish on any car.

    Oh, and then there’s the hill-hold device. When you arrive at a T junction on an incline and you take your foot off the clutch in a normal car you roll backwards. Not in the VXR you don’t. It’s held in place until you prod the throttle and then it sets off. In a town like Chipping Norton or Malvern or Harrogate this alone makes the Corsa worth a look.

    Add reasonable rear seat space, a usable boot, and a ride that works well as long as you avoid the optional 18in wheels, and things are looking good. In fact there’s only one issue. While it may appear to be well priced – it’s £15,625 – almost everything you might need is an option. Realistically, it’s an £18,000 car, and that sounds like a lot until you remember that the Mini Cooper S, which is less practical, costs even more when it’s fully loaded.

    My conclusion then is simple. The Corsa is great. A bit vulgar perhaps – the steering wheel itself is right up there with Del Boy in his pina colada phase. But this aside, it’s an enjoyable, charismatic car that’s fun to drive, reasonably priced . . . and why am I bothering?

    You don’t want one, do you? I could have told you it cost 8p, ran on water and was made from solid gold. I could have said each car came with 16 free Angelina Jolies and that the floor mats had been made from the pubic hair of Thai virgins. And you would still be yawning and wondering what restaurant AA Gill has savaged this week.

    The fact of the matter is that Vauxhall has had it, really. And it’s the same story with Ford. For the past seven years they’ve been trying to sell you a V6 Mondeo but you wouldn’t pay any attention. You wanted an Audi, or a Lexus, or a BMW. Not a Mondeo, even though, pound for pound, the Ford was demonstrably and obviously better than whatever you ended up buying.

    We’re going to see the same sort of thing with this Corsa. It’s really good and although it’s too early to say whether it will be reliable, I bet you’ll not even consider it and buy the Mini instead.

    Vauxhall and Ford were part of the fabric of British life in the 1960s and 1970s. They were as entrenched in our psyche as British Rail, the National Union of Mineworkers and Terry Scott, each an institution that seemed to be immortal. It turned out not to be.

    And unless someone can come up with a way of making the Ford and Vauxhall badges acceptable once more, they’ll end up on the scrapheap as well.

    Model Vauxhall Corsa VXR
    Engine 1598cc, four cylinders
    Power 189bhp @ 5850rpm
    Torque 170 lb ft @ 1980rpm
    Transmission Six-speed manual
    Fuel 35.8mpg (combined)
    CO2 190g/km
    Acceleration 0-60mph: 6.8sec
    Top speed 140mph
    Price £15,625
    Rating 4/5
    Verdict Nice car. Shame no one cares
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