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Geneva show: Vauxhall Corsa VXR has Aussie accent

Of Corsa: The new Vauxhall Corsa VXR and its Opel Corsa OPC twin received powertrain calibration treatment at Holden.

GM’s new European Corsa VRX/OPC mini hot hatch went to Holden finishing school


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5 Feb 2015

GENERAL Motors today peeled back the cloak of secrecy from its European hot hatch that was engineered in part by Holden at its Lang Lang proving ground in Australia.

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR – also called Opel Corsa OPC – is set to make its debut at next month’s Geneva motor show before going on sale in Britain and Europe in May as the performance flagship for the fifth-generation “Corsa E” light hatchback range that made its debut in basic form at the Paris motor show last year.

As GoAuto reported exclusively in July last year, Holden engineers have been doing the powertrain calibration for the Opel/Vauxhall VXR/OPC, initially at the Holden proving ground in Victoria and more recently on public roads around Melbourne.

As well, Holden has been doing similar work on the related Chevrolet Aveo RS which is set to use the 1.6T high-performance mechanical package in Asian markets.

It is unclear if Holden will get either the hottest Aveo for its Barina range in Australia or the new Corsa VXR. So far, Corsa has not been mentioned under Holden’s “Opelisation” expansion that is set to deliver the European-sourced Cascada convertible, Astra GTC and VXR and Insignia VXR into Holden showrooms under lion badges this year.

The previous generation Corsa VXR/OPC was sold in Australia in 2013 under Opel’ s short-lived venture Down Under.

The new Corsa VXR/OPC powertrain includes a revised version of GM’s 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder premium engine that in VXR/OPC form packs 152kW of power and 245Nm of torque – 7kW and 10Nm more than the previous generation – to punt the three-door hatch from standstill to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

GM says most of the torque is now on tap lower in the rev range – between 1900rpm and 5800rpm. As well, overboost can push maximum torque to 280Nm.

The engine will be mated with a second-generation six-speed manual gearbox that GM promises will offer a “short, fluid gear change”. No automatic is available.

In Europe, the VXR goes head to head with a slew of similar baby boomers, including Volkswagen’s new Polo GTI that produces 141kW and 320Nm from its blown 1.8-litre engine for 0-100km/h acceleration in 6.7 seconds.

Unlike the Corsa, the Polo GTI is locked in for Australia where it will go on sale in the second quarter of this year to rival the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi, Alfa Romeo MiTo QV and Renault Clio RS.

Although the Corsa VXR’s body styling is new, it is fundamentally a re-skin of the previous car, sitting on the same Gamma II small car platform.

However, it gets a bunch of revisions and new technologies, including a new form of adaptive suspension dubbed Frequency Selective Damping (FSD).

Using Koni dampers, the suspension is said to adapt to the car’s movements, firming up at high speeds and softening for more pleasant ride at lower speeds.

As well, the car’s ride height is 10mm lower than the standard Corsa.

For enthusiasts, the VXR now offers two-stage switchable electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control (TC) system that includes a “competition mode” under which ESC is backed off and traction control switched off altogether. As well, ESC can be switched off for track work.

The steering is said to be more direct and precise than before, with improved feedback.

Wheels are 17-inch alloys with Michelin 215/45 R17 tyres, while stopping power is provided by 308mm front disc brakes.

Styling wise, the new front design includes a scoop resembling a slit at the leading edge of the bonnet, along with bi-Xenon headlights, large air intakes and aluminium-framed scoops below the headlights.

A roof-mounted rear spoiler, side skirts and twin sports exhaust pipes also help to differentiate the VXR from more prosaic Corsas.

Recaro sports seats, leather flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports pedals complete the package inside.

Buyers can also bling their car with a performance package that adds a Drexler limited-slip differential, large 330mm Brembo front brake discs and “more focussed” damper settings.

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