This was Vauxhall’s first chance to make a full lifecycle update to the Corsa VXR since the original’s launch in 2007. You wouldn’t know it.

The same feeling of familiarity we reported of the normal Corsa is reproduced, so that the car’s exterior styling and cabin appointments ostensibly serve as new clothes draped over the same old platform.

Matt Burt

Matt Burt

Executive Editor, Autocar
The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine from the previous car gets new intake and exhaust manifolds and a new ECU, but is otherwise carried over from the outgoing Corsa Clubsport

These aren’t universally admired clothes, either. Several testers expressed a dislike of the styling, which takes few hostages to subtlety in pursuit of added visual aggression.

More serious, with the long-time selling point of the VXR brand being bang for your buck, an opportunity has been missed to put the Corsa’s case beyond question. The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine from the previous car gets new intake and exhaust manifolds and a new ECU but is otherwise carried over from its state of tune in the outgoing Corsa Clubsport.

It produces the same 202bhp and ‘overboosted’ 207lb ft temporary hit of torque (over a slightly broader rev range). Neither figure is unsurpassed among hot superminis. And weighing in just shy of 1.3 tonnes on our scales, this isn’t one of the lighter hot hatches, either.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

The Corsa VXR’s driveline has been more widely overhauled, with a new flywheel and clutch fitted and General Motors’ new MT6 manual gearbox being the only choice.

Suspension consists of new strut mountings and subframe up front, firmer bushings and an entirely new torsion beam arrangement at the rear, shortened and stiffened springs that take 10mm out of the Corsa’s normal ride height, uprated frequency-selective dampers from Koni and 17in alloy wheels, with 18s available as an option.

Braking is by Brembo performance discs and pads, driven by a new single-rate hydraulic servo in place of the old dual-rate one.

Those wanting a more hardcore mechanical set-up – and willing to pay an extra £2410 for it – can order Vauxhall’s Performance Pack. It includes those 18in alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, larger front brake discs and calipers, even stiffer springs and damper settings and VXR’s motorsport-derived Drexler mechanical limited-slip differential.

It’s a pricey option on an otherwise cheap-looking hot hatch, but Vauxhall expects half of VXR owners to stump up the cash for the Performance Pack. That’s why it was fitted to our test car.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week