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Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Vauxhall are on a roll. Not content with giving speed freaks the fastest Astra ever, they've only gone and given the same VXR treatment to the baby of the range - the Corsa. It's not hard to spot in a crowd either, with the Corsa VXR styling being bolder than a streaker at the Superbowl.

In a world where any fast hatchback is coveted by the Max Power generation, Vauxhall have saved everyone the trouble of pimping their ride with enormous aftermarket alloy wheels and air vents by putting all this on the standard car. The rear diffuser gives the car real racing looks and isn't just for show, as it ensures the car remains stable at high speeds. In fact the whole design has been born out of many hours in the wind tunnel as Vauxhall shaped and sculpted the VXR design - something clearly seen with the roof level spoiler.

Neat features abound from every angle. The aforementioned rear diffuser is striking, but the inverted triangular exhaust that is embedded within is a masterstroke. As are the wing mirrors which continue the triangle theme with a large chunk cut out from each. The front end manages to combine aggressive looks with the cheeky charm of the standard Corsa range by subtly altering the front bumper to house a sportier front grill and fog lights.

17 inch alloy wheels are standard although a wise investment of £400 on the options list will see them grow to 18 inch monsters. The interior takes delivery of the latest Recaro racing seats that aren't just immensely comfortable, but are designed to allow for side airbags to remain and the chunky steering wheel acts as a timely reminder that you're driving a serious performance car.

So to the performance. A throaty engine note greets you as you turn the key, the Corsa VXR housing a 1.6 litre turbocharged unit that develops 189bhp. 0 - 60mph is achieved in a mere 6.8 seconds with the turbo kicking in from the low revs to minimise the dreaded turbo lag. Overboost ensures the power keeps coming once your foot is welded to the floor meaning that the VXR never feels slow or is scrabbling around for power.

Despite all this oomph, the Corsa VXR remains refined and less frenetic than some of its rivals. Motorway driving is a doddle, but it's the twisty stuff the car longs for and it doesn't disappoint when it gets out into the countryside. The car clearly shows that it's been part of Vauxhall's latest design and development plan from the start. The car rides lower than the standard models and has a 25% stiffer rear axle which combines to make the car really fun to drive. The chassis is fully involved throughout as is the stability control which ensures all the power goes onto the tarmac. If you want to be brave and turn it off you can, however not only will you go everywhere slower, you'll be best mates with the local tyre fitter as you'll constantly send the wheels spinning uselessly with all the power going up in tyre smoke.

Variable power assisted steering may not be to the keenest drivers' taste as you don't quite feel every nuance of the road surface but you really would have to be wearing a fetching anorak to let this spoil your fun. One aspect that was a tad annoying was the clunky gearbox, not particularly helped by the oversized gear stick but this makes as much difference to my liking of the Corsa VXR as a broken cup holder on a Boeing 747.

Now to the very best bit. With the price of fuel being hiked every time I blink, cars like this are in danger of being priced out of the market. Yet despite the 189bhp, the turbo, the polished pedals that scream "stamp on me!" and the stability control working overtime, the car returns...wait for it...35.8mpg! Not only are running costs going to be low then, but buying the car in the first place won't require you to sell your arms to medical science. The UK price is £15,595 which undercuts its rivals, most notably the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio 197 and Honda Civic Type R.

A trawl through the options list (including those must have alloy wheels) can hike the price up, but with so much kit as standard, you'll be hard pressed to find anything that is a must have once you've ticked for the new wheels. If you were to sell the car in the future, expect good residuals too as limited numbers will be available each year - only 2,500 in the UK for example.

Right I'm off for my daily stare at that exhaust.

About The Author Tom London is an automotive journalist based in the UK. He is currently working with the Vauxhall dealer Now Vauxhall promoting the Vauxhall VXR Corsa VXR.
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