Vauxhall Corsa VXR Clubsport: Driven

As goodbyes go, the Vauxhall Corsa Clubsport is one of the warmest, most heartfelt we've experienced. The Vauxhall Corsa is nearing the end of its current life and will be replaced in October by an all-new model. So the perfect excuse for Vauxhall to break out the quickest Corsa VXR it's made as one final hurrah for this generation in the shape of the Clubsport.

Corsa easily forgotten with new rivals
Corsa easily forgotten with new rivals
On the face of it, the Clubsport offers little over the outgoing Nurburgring model other than a Remus exhaust with twin tailpipes. All this for a £22,390 price means the Corsa would appear to be almost completely out of contention with the likes of the 200hp Peugeot 208 GTI and Renault Clio RS200, never mind the Ford Fiesta ST with Mountune kit fitted.

However, the Clubsport is more than just an exercise in maintaining interest in an ageing model. Its suspension is lowered by 20mm at the front and 15mm out back to give it a much squatter, keener look than a standard VXR model. The Bilstein dampers and Drexler limited slip differential carried over from the Nurburgring make the Clubsport a compact hot hatch still very much worth considering.

Unlike its main competition, the Clubsport makes no bones about trying to please most of the people most of the time. It's uncompromising and at its best when being driven hard, fast and with no regard to fuel economy.

Still a blast to drive though
Still a blast to drive though
The changes to the suspension and differential mean corners can be taken at speeds that would be unmanageable in most rivals. There is plenty of traction from the tyres themselves, but when the Drexler differential starts to work and apportion power to whichever wheel can best make use of it, the Corsa tucks into a corner where others start to run wide.

Even when pressed harder still and understeer sets in, the Clubsport remains very controllable and lifting off the throttle, even with a twitchy right foot, induces nothing more than the nose sniffing back into line. Provoke it and oversteer is there to be had, but the Clubsport is better when driven with some precision.

This is evident in the way it resists spinning the front wheels from a quick start. Again, the differential is doing much of the work here, so 205hp in a small hot hatch is entertaining rather than overwhelming. From rest to 62mph comes up in 6.5 seconds, the same as the Nurburgring, and top speed is 143mph.

1.6 200hp turbo? Corsa doing it since '06
1.6 200hp turbo? Corsa doing it since '06
Where the Clubsport sets itself apart from the Nurburgring edition is the crackle from the exhaust as the red line is neared and the next gear is selected. There's nothing synthesised about the noise, it's just a free-flowing exhaust and cracking engine working together.

With the peak torque of 184lb ft spread between a lowly 2,250rpm and 5,500rpm, the Clubsport is rarely caught off-guard when you want to get going. Use the gears and it's a very quick cross-country machine, or you can leave it in a higher gear and use that wide band of power to breeze along in a fast, unfussed manner that shows Vauxhall has put the work into this upgrade.

More engineering solidarity is shown by the combination of the Clubsport's steering response, which is light enough for the daily grind but packed with enough feel to eke out the best from the strong front grip. Add in the easy, precise gear shift and strong Brembo brakes and the Clubsport is a great little car to tackle any road in. It's even quite refined, with a firm but forgiving ride.

Interior a real disappointment for £22K
Interior a real disappointment for £22K
Comfortable Recaro front seats provide plenty of support for all types of journey and the Clubsport can also be as practical as any other Corsa.

However, it is very hard to overlook the quality and appearance of the cabin plastics in the Clubsport. While they might be acceptable in a ten grand shopping-cum-commuter car, they just look dated and out of place in a car costing more than £20,000. It's a disappointment some dedicated VXR fans will be prepared to overlook, but the chances of tempting buyers away from the delights of the Clubsport's major rivals is slight.

That's a pity as the Clubsport is a fittingly rapid and raw farewell for the Corsa. It will find a small but delighted audience, to which we belong, but for most compact hot hatch buyers it will be goodbye, ta-ta, auf wiedersehen and sayonara.

 1598cc, 4cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive, LSD
Power (hp): 205@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184lb ft@2,250-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.5sec
Top speed: 143mph
MPG: 37.2 (combined)
CO2: 178g/km
Price: £22,390


P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (110) Join the discussion on the forum

  • P4ROT 11 Mar 2014

    Really want- just wish it was better looking, but again still want one.

  • JG93 11 Mar 2014

    Think the colour really sets this off well, Why is the interior disappointing? what were you expecting?

  • s m 11 Mar 2014

    I really like these - went in the old version( Nurburgring type ) round Oulton on a VXR day. Easy to keep up with the bigger brothers ( Astra and Insignia VXRs ) in it.
    So pointy into the corners

  • mike-r 11 Mar 2014

    Mate of mine has one of these (normal editions) and I was pleasantly surprised by it, interior included.

  • Gandahar 11 Mar 2014

    In the brighter colours the Corsa looks a bit much, but in that colour it really improves it as others have mentioned. The interior I prefer rather than the blingy Fiesta ST also which looks like one of those Matsui hifi's with it's pretend aluminium.

    The hardware spec list reads more like what the new Clio RS 200 Turbo should have had ....

View all comments in the forums Make a comment