For many years the Vauxhall Corsa VXR has been both loved and hated for its reputation as a ‘boy racer’. Unfortunately one of the most popular places to see a previous generation VXR will be speeding around your neighbourhood after hours. However, this is the latest generation VXR, a car that has just as much power with a bit more class. The one I drove was from 2015, available at a price of £10,500, had around 50,000 miles on the clock and was a rather bright green. Nothing was damaged, and with everything in working order the stage was set.
Let’s start with the ascetics. This is one of the main talking points on a VXR, possibly the sportiest hot hatch within the low-end market, the VXR’s twin Remus exhausts and sleek design make it almost unmissable on the road. Coming as standard, the complex alloys are a home hitter for most.
Hot hatches of the past and present occasionally hit a road hump when designing the spoiler for their vehicle. Some can be too big and look ridiculous, some can be virtually non-existent. However, Vauxhall have not had this problem, the VXR’s spoiler is perfect for what you would expect on a hot hatch, the right amount of gap between it and the roof too allow airflow.
A rear diffuser sits between the twin Remus exhausts, and at the front some sporty aluminium detail surrounds parts of the bumper. There is also a small intake where the bonnet starts, designed to flow air through the engine bay.
We know its great to look at from beyond the borders of its tinted windows, but how does it fair on the inside? The answer would be a positive one.
Upon entering you’re instantly reminded of its lust to be sporty, first comes the slight struggle into the Recaro racing seats, followed by the realisation you can’t reach the door very easily when sat down. Inside the VXR is very similar to other Corsa’s as you might expect. The main differences being Recaro seats come as standard, as does the flat-bottomed steering wheel, sports pedals, VXR gear-lever and instruments. Embedded within the dashboard is a 7-inch touchscreen, this uses IntelliLink, Vauxhalls smart infotainment system.
Connectable by USB and Bluetooth, you can stream audio, photographs, video, films and make phone calls. Apple CarPlay is also available on the system, allowing any Apple users to have a slightly better time than the likes of anybody else. When using the Infotainment, it was noticeable how crisp the colours were, the screen was also very responsive and didn’t take a lifetime to load things as some do.
Rear legroom can be a swear word in these kinds of hot hatchbacks, but surprisingly the VXR had a fair amount. The Recaro racing seats were a little stiff folding forward to access the back seats, but once that was done there were no other altercations. Now, this isn’t going to be like a family saloon, it’s a snug fit, but being 6ft I had no problems getting in and moving around.
With a 1.6 litre Turbocharged engine, the VXR is no slowcoach in its class. The journey from 0-60 takes 6.5 seconds, an impressive number if you take into consideration the quality of the car and the price. Making it all the way up to 143mph, its figures are on par with some hot hatches best editions, making for an experience not many cars can offer for such a low price.
The top speed is mostly irrelevant considering that the majority will never reach it, the real blow your socks off party trick is the VXR’s acceleration. Pressing the pedal deeper into the footwell becomes your new favourite pastime. There is a very small amount of turbo lag, but you can feel the increase in available power once the large turbo eventually spools up. First gear in the VXR feels rather normal, a nice rumble will show itself from within the Remus exhausts, but as soon as you move up the gears the car will fire into life.
Luckily, this isn’t one of those small and powerful hatchbacks that’s in your face the entire time, just growling at you to accelerate. If you want to drive slow and quietly, you can. I found it very easy to just cruise along in 5th gear admiring the view. The only slight hindrance to arise while cruising along was to do with the ride.
The VXR’s was more on the hard side, you could feel the vibration of most bumps and lumps on the road. In no way was this unbearable, in fact after a little while you didn’t really notice. The VXR is setup with sports suspension so it will come with these little niggles.
The handling was also up to scratch, not quite as sharp as it could have been, but the steering helped to make the VXR feel nimble, it also backed up your confidence when taking corners at certain speeds. I found the brakes were like hitting a brick wall, Vauxhall clearly new that there would be a fair few people putting their foot down, so installing some incredible brakes was wise.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR Verdict
The VXR will have its haters, and I can completely see both sides of the story. At the end of the day, a VXR is a car you look forward to driving. It’s not a car people would buy if they want to fit a family of 5 within, or asking how many dogs can get in the boot, or testing if you can get 50+mpg. The whole point of the VXR is being incredibly fun to drive, and it does that very well.