- We like...Looks, agility, rorty exhaust
- We don't...Thick screen pillars restrict view
Find out what we think of Vauxhall's pocket-rocket supermini. Or click below to browse over 200 more reviewsThere’s something about small cars that go fast. Perhaps it’s the sheer cheek of something so dinky-sized travelling at big speeds. Or maybe it’s that super-powered, little cars still cost relatively affordable amounts to buy. But whatever it is, we love ‘em.
And so it is with the Corsa VXR Arctic. What is it? A cool-white limited edition of Vauxhall’s supermini, given the full-on performance-car makeover. And, if that’s not enough, the ‘Arctic’ bit also means a handsome set of black alloys to seal the look a treat, plus a blarty exhaust. This last bit is especially sweet for two reasons. First, it’s a special bit of kit that has the effect of upping engine power by up to 15bhp, to (in theory) 204bhp. Second, it makes such a heady noise, topped off with a pop and a gurgle whenever you hit maximum revs in a mid-gear.
Vauxhall didn’t used to be that good at making its little cars go quickly. But the current Corsa has turned that around, coming from nowhere to rank among the best of its type. True, it dsn’t match Renault’s Clio Cup for its pin-sharp steering or last ‘nth of adjustability in its handling, but neither ds it have that car’s bone-crunching ride and back-to-basics cabin. That’s quite something when you look at its big alloys and ribbon-sided tyres. As a car easy enough to use every day, the Corsa has little of its type and at its price to touch it. Other than, of course, the regular VXR, which is £1000 cheaper, although it comes without the special wheels and fizzy exhaust.
It’s giggle-and-grin quick, demanding real restraint if you’re not to rack up a worrying tally of speeding penalty points. But it also works the trick of feeling taut and involving even when you’re not going fast, so making every journey memorable.
It looks right, from its alluring body kit to its neat, triangular exhaust-pipe. Inside, the cabin is well decked out and handsome. As is true for every Corsa, the fit and finish is high throughout. Maybe not up there with Volkswagen’s yet, but still better than most and enough to trump its arch-rival, Ford’s Fiesta. From the Recaro front chairs to the flat-bottomed steering wheel, it looks right, though in sticking the VXR logo on instruments, wheel, gearshift, and door treads, we think Vauxhall has gone a half-step too far.
Should you buy one? Among performance superminis it rates well, competing keenly on price against rivals such as the Renaultsport Clio 197. It also looks very much the part and with this sort of car, that really matters.
If you’re buying second-hand, you’ll find the prices are fairly stiff and that prime ones sell quickly: the VXR loses value from new more slowly than any other Corsa. Running costs will be steep – insurance is group 16, while a set of tyres may well be needed every year, and at a cost of £750. But that’s no worse than you’d expect, given its abilities.
Sensible stuff aside, the Arctic tugs at the emotions and we can imagine buying one without a cold reckoning of the whys and wherefores. Just because you can.
To view and buy new and second-hand Corsa VXRs, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.6 petrol turbo
- 0-60 mph6.8secs
- Insurance groups16
Motors.co.uk value verdict: