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Driven – Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition. 34 letters. 5 words. Quite the mouthful. PistonSpy were recently invited up to Vauxhall’s Head Office in Luton to drive this car, and we jumped at the chance. It’s a car we previously snapped pictures of  testing back in 2010 – here. This is what we thought of it.

The Nurburgring Edition certainly looks the part. I thought it might look a little ‘after market’, but in the metal it actually looks great – really mean and purposeful. The squat stance is 20mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the back than before and the 18” lightweight forged aluminum wheels really fill out the flared arches. To mark this model out as the Nurburgring Edition, there are Nurburgring logos on the B-pillars and door sills. At the back of the car, there are two massive (and real!), stainless steel exhaust pipes. You can buy the car in two new colours, Red Henna, and the colour I drove, Apple Green Grasshopper. This isn’t a subtle car, so if I was buying one, I’d definitely have the stand out green paint to match.

Inside, the car is a nice enough place to be. The great looking leather Recaro seats are undoubtedly the highlight. They are comfortable, and provide loads of lateral support. They also have the Nurburgring logo embossed on the headrest, which is a lovely, high end touch. The piano black plastic inserts on the wheel and across the dash however, look and feel a little cheap, which is a shame on a car of this price. Worst though, is the gear stick. It’s far too big, a very unusual shape, with an enormous trigger style button to open the gate to reverse. The gear changes themselves are also a letdown. It feels more luck than judgement when changing gear quickly.

But what is it like to drive? In short; brilliant. The turbo charged 1.6 litre engine develops 202bhp and 250NM of torque. This gets the car to 60mph in 6.5 seconds. That 0-60 time will certainly prove useful at your next Formula Traffic-Lights event, but this isn’t where the car really excels. This car’s real party piece is tearing down good old fashioned British B-roads.

On B-roads, the car was outstanding. Vauxhall commissioned German suspension gurus Bilstein to develop a bespoke spring and damper set-up, specifically for the Nurburgring Edition Corsa. Over the bumps and wobbles of the country roads around Luton, this Bilstein set-up meant I always felt in total control of the car. It gave a feeling of supreme confidence, allowing me to exploit that 202bhp engine to its fullest.

The most impressive upgrade on the Nurburgring Edition is the limited slip differential. It’s a proper mechanical, multi-plate system built by Drexler and has transformed the car. Throw the little Corsa into a corner, any corner, and apply a boot-full of power – rather than wildly spinning its wheels and just washing out wide, the limited slip diff actually tightens up your line, and pulls you towards the apex. The car is an absolute riot to drive.

Does it deserve that Nurburgring name? I think so. In fact I would absolutely love to drive this car on the Nurburgring. The car has such a sweet setup which really inspired confidence. The car loves corners, which the Nurburgring certainly has plenty of! Power-wise, I think the 202bhp engine is about perfect for a front-wheel-drive hot hatch at the ‘Ring. It’s powerful enough to have lots of fun, and thanks to that limited slip diff, feels totally useable all the time. Equally though, it’s not so powerful that it’s going to be getting you into serious trouble. A great balance.

Vauxhall are only bringing 250 a year to the UK. Each are individually numbered and prices start at £22,295. That’s a serious amount of money for a Corsa. There’s no doubt it’s a brilliant car, but you could get a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup for £17,135 and save over £5,000. Or, if you’re really into Nurburgringy-ness, you could save up a few more pounds, and buy the current record holder for fastest FWD car, the RenaultSport Megane 265 Cup, for £24,840. You get a lot more car for the extra £2,500. Physically the Megane is a bigger car, but it’s also 30 seconds per lap quicker at the ‘Ring.

Neither the Clio or Megane look or stand out quite like the Corsa though. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, well, that’s totally up to you.

Pistonspy Says:- Out of 5

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition