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  • tOP gEAR mAG bLOG - dRIVES

    Posted by Bill Thomas at 9:30AM on Tuesday 24 April, 2007

    Regular readers of Top Gear magazine will know I run a Clio Renaultsport 197 as a long-term test car.

    I love it to bits - it's refined, roomy and easy to live with, and I always turn to look back at it when I park it. It's also tremendously capable when you drive it hard.

    It's a quirky, interesting car with bags of character and I'll admit that living with it makes me ever so slightly biased in its favour when it comes to talking about rival hot hatches.

    I need to stamp that bias down and remain objective, though, and that's pretty easy when I drive cars as capable as the new Vauxhall Corsa VXR. I took it home last night and was deeply impressed.

    It does all the important things well - it steers, goes, stops and handles in an excellent fashion and in that way is extremely close to matching 'my' Clio. The 197 has about a five percent gloss of finesse that the Corsa lacks, but it couldn't be closer.

    The Clio's traction control system is a lot more sophisticated, coming in progressively and giving you plenty of drive even out of streaming wet corners. The Corsa's system is abrupt and unsettling by comparison.

    Still, if I ever meet a Corsa VXR at a track day, I'll be saying quiet prayers that the driver isn't quite as quick as me. If he is, I don't think I'll have a hope of keeping up.

    I reckon the Vauxhall's engine is better than the Renault's. The turbo kicks in quickly at low revs and you soon learn to anticipate the slight lag and drive it on the torque curve, while the Renault lacks punch low down and gives you no choice - it's revs or nothing.

    I can guarantee that most Clio 197 drivers would like the way the Corsa VXR's engine delivers its performance. Not as pure and wild and F1-like as the Renault, sure, but much more punchy and useable low down - and it still revs cleanly. It's a better compromise.

    The VXR's gearshift isn't as quick or direct as the Renault's, but the ratios are much more sensible than the 197's silly-short setup, and the pedal feel - especially brake feel in normal driving - is superior to the Clio's.

    In the end, a choice between these cars will come down to personal taste, and I'll never criticise a Corsa VXR driver for making the choice he or she has. Neither car is perfect, but equally, neither has many vices - and in this case, neither has a big advantage.

    For me - and this is just personal taste - I don't like the Vauxhall's interior. It's OK, but it's a bit hollow-feeling and shiny and lacks the Clio's quality, and I'm not sure about the whole VXR branding thing either. It's all a bit one-dimensional and in-your-face.

    If the Vauxhall had a slightly more subtle, higher-grade interior without all the red flashes and VXR logos, it might just be enough to swing me away from the 197.

    It really is that good.


    Permalink: http://www.topgear.com/blogs/drives/...all-corsa-vxr/...

  • #2
    Nice review that.

    I priced up a clio 197 to same spec as my corsa vxr and was more than i paid for my astra!

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    • #3
      And the car's up against the Cooper S, Clio 197, and Pug 207 RC, which will be the 207 GT in UK!

      Sill the Mini came top. But still a good read!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lambo
        And the car's up against the Cooper S, Clio 197, and Pug 207 RC, which will be the 207 GT in UK!

        Sill the Mini came top. But still a good read!
        Although I still haven't driven a Clio 197. Ive have a good few miles in the cooper S.

        These reviews all seem very Mini biased. Mini being the intelligent lot they are always seem to hand the press demo cars with 7K of extras! When did you last see a 'price as tested' on the low side of 20K for a Cooper S!! The Auto Expresses demo was just shy of 23K! No wonder it impressed them!

        Also, the mini does seem to have a lot of style fans. They love how cutsie it is. And how it is so trendy. On a side note, I thought the Corsa interior was great. And preferred it to the Cooper S. I was surprised by the quality and felt it no lesser to the mini.

        Yes, and how it holds its value better than all the rest ...

        Hang on a mo.... Not with 7K of extras it doesn't. Kitted out like that a Corsa will prove to be the one loosing less over the first 3 years.

        And finally .. The Corsa is still suffering image problems. The young lad with baseball cap has somewhat tainted it. And you can tell that many journo's just can't let its history be forgotten. Everyone I tell "I had a drive in the new Corsa VXR last week, and it was really impressive!", replies back "A corsa!!". We live in a world of car snobs! It won't be easy for a Vauxhall to win over a baby BMW.

        I still have to test drive the Clio, but If I were to bet, I'm fairly sure Vauxhall will be taking my money! (It definitely isnt going on a mini!!)

        Cheers

        Mad

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        • #5
          Hi guys, been browsing this forum for a while (mainly 'cos of the Corsa VXR) and decided to stop being a pansy and show my opinion, so here's a nice long first post I think :P

          I read the Group Test with the Corsa, Pug, Clio and Mini and was quite surprised that they hadn't came all out in favor of the Clio, which in one of the earlier Corsa VXR blogs the author did.

          Strange how they love this Renault even though it's bottom of the Top Gear Readers Survey but never mind.

          I think in the group test there was a point made that you really have to make up your own mind on which hot hatch you want. Personally I find the Clio 197 bland and the nose of the Peugeot isn't nice.

          The Mini, I can understand why people like it. The originals were a cult classic, but in good old NE Scotland I find it's driven by hairdressers and rich kids who mummy & daddy bought a Cooper S as a first car.

          The Corsa is stunning in my opinion, not just the VXR but I've walked past a view SXI's in car parks and stopped just looking at the back corner.

          I would have the Corsa VXR over any of the other lot, the only problems I have now is scraping the money together which will only take time, and deciding what bloody colour I want it in.

          PS: Anybody seen the thread with the corsa in all the colours?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Strach
            Hi guys, been browsing this forum for a while (mainly 'cos of the Corsa VXR) and decided to stop being a pansy and show my opinion, so here's a nice long first post I think :P

            I read the Group Test with the Corsa, Pug, Clio and Mini and was quite surprised that they hadn't came all out in favor of the Clio, which in one of the earlier Corsa VXR blogs the author did.

            Strange how they love this Renault even though it's bottom of the Top Gear Readers Survey but never mind.

            I think in the group test there was a point made that you really have to make up your own mind on which hot hatch you want. Personally I find the Clio 197 bland and the nose of the Peugeot isn't nice.

            The Mini, I can understand why people like it. The originals were a cult classic, but in good old NE Scotland I find it's driven by hairdressers and rich kids who mummy & daddy bought a Cooper S as a first car.

            The Corsa is stunning in my opinion, not just the VXR but I've walked past a view SXI's in car parks and stopped just looking at the back corner.

            I would have the Corsa VXR over any of the other lot, the only problems I have now is scraping the money together which will only take time, and deciding what bloody colour I want it in.

            PS: Anybody seen the thread with the corsa in all the colours?

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you, was very good of me to space it out a bit :P

              You'll under stand why I want a Corsa VXR so bad when you realise I drive the deathtrap that is the Fiat Seciento 1.1S (like the S makes a difference).

              I wasn't very happy when I was racing a Last gen Polo GTI on the dual carriageway when I maxed out

              Only thing that let her catch me was lack of speed, if only the needle went further I would've been gone.

              Oh glorious third gear how I love you, for catching out ***** who tailgate in there big fat beemers.

              Just think of the shock they'll get when they can't catch me

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              • #8
                Lol, hope you get one soon so you can have more fun matey :wink:

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