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Thread: Jez Clarkson reviews the Corsa VXR......

  1. #1
    Regular Member Harry's Avatar
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    Default Jez Clarkson reviews the Corsa VXR......

    And we thought the Vec VXR got a slating. At least he is complimentary on the handling.



    "When you first spend a bit of face time with the new Corsa VXR you can’t help thinking, “God Almighty. Can Vauxhall never get anything right?”

    It appears to have crashed into an out-of-town motorist accessory superstore and emerged on the other side with every single part attached to every single bit of its bodywork. There are spoilers, extra lamps, fat wheels, Philishave, Just For Men bits of aluminium-look plastic here and there, and sills like an American footballer’s work garb.

    This might have worked 10 years ago when every supermarket car park echoed on a Saturday night to the pulsating bass beat of the customising culture and Max Power was one of Britain’s bestselling magazines. But today Max Power’s circulation is in freefall – down from 240,000 in 2003 to just 71,000 last year.

    The trend for young people to fit exhausts like Kazakhstan pipelines and illuminate the underside of their cars with neon is over. Just as Vauxhall gets round to milking it.


    This is not the first time the British arm of General Motors has missed the boat. You remember the first Vectra. Designed in a rush by a man who was plainly going through a messy divorce, it had a bonnet, a place where people sat, a boot and an engine.

    It would have been fine for the Terry and June company car rep who had no choice in the matter. But it came along just as the rep scene was dying, and Terry and June was affording us nothing more than a glimpse into the nation’s “ooh look, there’s a black man” past. In fact we were in a coffee bar, experimenting with zinc-topped work surfaces and skinny lattes. And Vauxhall was still trying to sell us British Rail tea with wheels.

    And now, just as everyone is going green, they’re trying to sell us a Saturday night supermarket car park special. G force? Who cares. All the youth want today is a G-Wiz.

    The thing is, though, and you can call me old-fashioned if you like but – ahem – I rather like the look of the new Corsa. Think of it as a council house at Christmas time. Utterly vulgarised by a million plastic Santas and two zillion fairy lights. But it puts a smile on your face and what more could you ask than that?

    I also like the interior. The seats are of a type I thought had gone west with the old Escort RS2000. They’re big Recaros with lots of side bolster. Not easy to get in and out of, for sure, but once you’re in place you aren’t going anywhere. Even if you attempt a hairpin at 600mph.

    The rest of the interior is as insane as the exterior. Take the steering wheel. They’ve fitted a flat bit at the bottom and coated that in plastic, which is supposed to look like aluminium. At the top you get a marker to show you where straight ahead is. Then, at 10 to 2, you have knobbly bits, which is fine – it reminds you of the correct place to have your hands while driving. But you get similar knobbly bits at 20 to 4.

    The upshot is something that’s no more circular than the trunk of a baobab tree. Let it slide through your hands after making a turn and you’ll end up with a fistful of broken knuckles.

    The idea is that you feel like Colin McRae before you’ve even turned the key. But what you’re actually doing is trying to suppress a giggle. Because while all these race’n’rally add-on parts give the car a purposeful – if dated – appearance, you just know that the badge on the back says Vauxhall, which is bad, and Corsa, which is to motoring what Nicholas Witchell is to wrestling.

    Every single Corsa I’ve ever driven has been terrible, with wooden controls, asthmatic engines and nothing in either the price list or in the styling that made me want to sign on the dotted line. In a spoof advert for the Corsa, shown on the Sniff Petrol website, there was a picture of the little Vauxhall and underneath a line that said: “Show the world you know nothing about cars.” Bang on.

    It did, just, as a device for driving schools, but if I’d learnt to drive in a Corsa I’d have done one lesson and given up on the whole business of cars. The bus would have seemed a better option. Also, it was a cheap-to-insure starting point for the Max Power boys. But even they’ve moved on these days.

    And let’s be honest, Vauxhall hasn’t. So the chances of the new Corsa’s undersides being able to cash the cheques its body and steering wheel are writing are, frankly, zero.

    Wrong. With a turbocharged 1.6 litre engine it will hit 60 from rest, without too much torque steer, in less than seven seconds. Keep churning away at the manly six-speed box and in fairly short order the needle will be nudging 140. That’s fast for any hot hatch. For a small Vauxhall it’s amazing.

    Better still is the way it corners. The lifelessness of old is gone and in its place is a chassis that lets the tail drift when the limit is reached. It puts me in mind of an old Peugeot 205 GTi, and that’s about the highest praise you can lavish on any car.

    Oh, and then there’s the hill-hold device. When you arrive at a T junction on an incline and you take your foot off the clutch in a normal car you roll backwards. Not in the VXR you don’t. It’s held in place until you prod the throttle and then it sets off. In a town like Chipping Norton or Malvern or Harrogate this alone makes the Corsa worth a look.

    Add reasonable rear seat space, a usable boot, and a ride that works well as long as you avoid the optional 18in wheels, and things are looking good. In fact there’s only one issue. While it may appear to be well priced – it’s £15,625 – almost everything you might need is an option. Realistically, it’s an £18,000 car, and that sounds like a lot until you remember that the Mini Cooper S, which is less practical, costs even more when it’s fully loaded.

    My conclusion then is simple. The Corsa is great. A bit vulgar perhaps – the steering wheel itself is right up there with Del Boy in his pina colada phase. But this aside, it’s an enjoyable, charismatic car that’s fun to drive, reasonably priced . . . and why am I bothering?

    You don’t want one, do you? I could have told you it cost 8p, ran on water and was made from solid gold. I could have said each car came with 16 free Angelina Jolies and that the floor mats had been made from the pubic hair of Thai virgins. And you would still be yawning and wondering what restaurant AA Gill has savaged this week.

    The fact of the matter is that Vauxhall has had it, really. And it’s the same story with Ford. For the past seven years they’ve been trying to sell you a V6 Mondeo but you wouldn’t pay any attention. You wanted an Audi, or a Lexus, or a BMW. Not a Mondeo, even though, pound for pound, the Ford was demonstrably and obviously better than whatever you ended up buying.

    We’re going to see the same sort of thing with this Corsa. It’s really good and although it’s too early to say whether it will be reliable, I bet you’ll not even consider it and buy the Mini instead.

    Vauxhall and Ford were part of the fabric of British life in the 1960s and 1970s. They were as entrenched in our psyche as British Rail, the National Union of Mineworkers and Terry Scott, each an institution that seemed to be immortal. It turned out not to be.

    And unless someone can come up with a way of making the Ford and Vauxhall badges acceptable once more, they’ll end up on the scrapheap as well.

    Model Vauxhall Corsa VXR

    Engine 1598cc, four cylinders

    Power 189bhp @ 5850rpm

    Torque 170 lb ft @ 1980rpm

    Transmission Six-speed manual

    Fuel 35.8mpg (combined)

    CO2 190g/km

    Acceleration 0-60mph: 6.8sec

    Top speed 140mph

    Price £15,625

    Rating 4 out of 5

    Verdict Nice car. Shame no one cares "

  2. #2
    Regular Member sonic's Avatar
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    My mate is a salesman at my local dealer, Inchcape Vauxhall in Exeter, and came round in one just like the pic above on Friday evening...
    Screw Clarkson I thought it was great....looks like it's had a steroid injection. I'd have one, it'd be a great toy

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    Clarkson. What a muppet!

  4. #4
    spoons
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    Clarkson Quote "My conclusion then is simple. The Corsa is great. "

    Forget all the other journalist drivel (and I like Clarkson for his entertainment value), The Corsa is great.

    I've driven the 888 version at 220 BHP, and that was even better. But I bet that would cost nearly £20,000

    Clarkson will soon be institutionalised sifting back through his own drivel wondering who cared anyway.... life moves on Clarkson and your still living in the past.... get over it !!

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    Regular Member ditchp's Avatar
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    Vehicle : Vectra cdti estate

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    does'nt like it, then does like it but says its for chav's in a round about way, what a tw@t,
    i would love one of these pocket rockets

    keep up the good work vauxhall
    Midlands Mod Shop - NFFC.

  6. #6
    spoons
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    Clarkson Quote "shown on the Sniff Petrol website, there was a picture of the little Vauxhall and underneath a line that said: “Show the world you know nothing about cars.” "

    This kills me.... for years Clarkson dragged his Ford GT40 down his driveway, only to return back home in an AA Truck.. !! - by his own admission the car was rubbish for reliability... and he is supposed to know everything about cars... I bet his wife looked forward to walking home, again.

    In my eyes, the new Corsa is like a ready made meal. Perfect for those people who dont have the time to prepare a nutritionally balanced candle lit supper, cos they are too busy out enjoying themselves and having the time of their lives.. they finish work and go out !!

    OK, so its not the perfect balanced supercar, but it does serve a purpose and I bet you find Clarkson scoffing into his ready made meals occasionally.... (probably when he's p1ssed his wife off again)

    So, the above comment should be "show the world you've got a life, and loving it !!"
    Last edited by spoons; 21st May 2007 at 19:35.

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    Regular Member dazzer t's Avatar
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    a dogs **** jeremy clarkson

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    Well .... One of Swedens biggest carmag recently drove the Corsa OPC, and they were very positive .... and i mean VERY positive about the car.

  9. #9
    Regular Member david.aka.judas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonicboom View Post
    My mate is a salesman at my local dealer, Inchcape Vauxhall in Exeter, and came round in one just like the pic above on Friday evening...
    Screw Clarkson I thought it was great....looks like it's had a steroid injection. I'd have one, it'd be a great toy
    inchcape are great - tell your mate hes great and there's a stocky guy with brushed back hair on the service desk - he's great as well.

    and a funny story, there's a lamp post outside that nobody parks under, that is until my m8 did and 5 seagulls shat all over his clio - it looked like a war zone..................

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    Regular Member G.O'Rilla's Avatar
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    Max Power's circulation in free fall as it has gone out of fashion? - you wouldn't believe it if you parked at Tesco's Thurrock.

    Clarkson has a good point about Ford and VX - they are both being squeezed at the bottom by Asian imports (Hyundai/Kia, etc) and also from the top as more people aspire to, and can afford "the badge" (be it BMW/Audi/Jag) on the driveway with the associated bragging rights.

    Corsa VXR vs hot 207/clio? No contest whatsoever. That's where VX are aiming this car, surely. And they will win.

    It is a shame we will still see chavved up ones in about 7 years time in Tesco's Thurrock car park

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