Hidden Desires #1 – Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Last year I ran a short feature called “Crap Cars I Like” on ESM. The aim was to explain my love for cars which automotive journalism, the internets, or society as a whole had shunned. However, I decided the name did too much of a disservice to the cars featured. So, instead, this segment is now going to be known as “Hidden Desires”. In a nutshell, these are the cars that I cannot help myself from liking, even though deep down I know I shouldn’t.

#1 – Vauxhall Corsa VXR

The inspiration for the first car to be featured came during a journey with ESM’s OH just the other day. Whilst sitting at traffic lights opposite a used car dealership in Gateshead, I spotted a tidy Arden Blue Corsa VXR sat on the forecourt. It’s fair to say the Corsa isn’t a bad-looking little car, and with the VXR adornments it does look genuinely sporty.

Granted, the triangular exhaust tail-pipe is a bit naff, and the big block colour grill irritates me, but on the whole it looks good. I like the triangulated fog light surrounds, the cheeky vents in the front and rear bumpers and the fake diffuser at the back-end. If you were wanting to produce a miniature hot-hatch, ticking all the styling benchmarks, then the VXR does this in spades.

It’s also pleasing to note that the VXR easily has the firepower to back up the looks. With its turbocharged 1.6 litre engine chucking out 192bhp and 192lb-ft of torque, this Corsa has some serious bite. Autocar managed to drag a 0-60mph time of 6.7 seconds from it during a road test, backed up by a 0-100mph in 16.8 seconds. No matter how you slice it, that is quick. All that power is transferred through a six-speed manual gearbox, with the handling said to be confident and surefooted. Ignore the real-world mpg of 28, and it makes for a decent package.

Objectively, the Corsa VXR ticks all the boxes you (or I) might want from a small hot-hatch. Granted, new prices have swelled to over £18,000.00, but decent used ones start from as little as £7k. So why, given it would meet a lot of the requirements for what I need, am I not rushing out to buy one? For what reason could I overlook such a seemingly competent car? The badge, obviously.

I admit it; I am a badge snob. Blame it on the stream of Vauxhall company cars (Carltons, Cavaliers, Vectras and Omegas) that my Father had when I was younger. Blame it on the fact that, when I was in my late-teens, the Corsa was the car to have if you lived in Teesside and wanted to Max Power your motor. Or, just blame it on the fact that having owned a string of Volkswagens, I struggle to see myself in anything un-German.

Oh, and there is the interior as well:


I know it has Recaro seats in there, I know it has a standard-specification others would charge huge amounts for. But the problem is that clock at the top of the centre console. That was the clock/temperature gauge in the Vectra and countless other 1990s Vauxhalls. Plus, it also looks like the person who designed the dashboard only communicated with the person designing the door card, by telephone.

Should you choose to buy, or already own, a Corsa VXR I do not judge you. I salute you for not being bothered by the snobbery of people like me, and for instead picking a competent supermini with prodigious performance. It is just a shame that I am not enlightened enough to do likewise.

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