Ring my bell

The Nürburgring, Mecca for motoring enthusiasts everywhere, is a long and dangerous circuit (12.7 miles, 73 bends and usually several fatalities each year).   Interesting naming choice for this latest, hot Corsa then.   Clearly, it will be a great deal of fun but likely to end up in a field on its roof.   Or will it?

This is clearly what the local police thought when I took a conspicuous, lime green Corsa VXR Nürburgring out in West Yorkshire for review today.   On the way out there was one traffic patrol car; on the way back, there were two lying in wait.   And they were watching for any foul play.

The Nürburgring version of the VXR isn’t just a warmed hatch with additional plastic, it’s the real deal – and comes with a proper £22,295 price tag to match.   So what exactly do you get for £22k and the name of a German town written on your Corsa?

The Nürburgring has 18” 10-spoke Anthracite alloy wheels and different front and rear bumpers.   There’s a small Nürburgring logo on the B-pillars and twin tail pipes but otherwise it just advertises itself as a VXR model.

It comes with lowered springs (reduced by 20mm front, 15mm rear) and inverted dampers, giving the car a purposeful, hunkered-down look.   More importantly, there’s a Drexler mechanical limited-slip differential.   The true value of this can really be felt when powering out of a roundabout, where the camber changes and ordinarily, traction is lost at the inside front wheel.   The limited-slip diff takes away all the drama and ensures none of the power is wasted.

In fact, the VXR Nürburgring has excellent manners all round.   Turn-in is crisp and precise, power delivery from the turbo-charged 1.6 litre petrol engine is smooth and controlled, and the Brembo brakes are well weighted.   Although no slouch (taking just 6.5 seconds to reach 62 mph – 0.3 seconds quicker than a regular VXR), it is through the corners where the Nürburgring excels; driver feedback is superb.   In other words, there’s no excuse for turning it over in a field.

This Corsa isn’t a bad a mile-eater, either.   The close-ratio ‘box brings 70 mph in at around 3,000 rpm but on light throttle, it’s not too noisy.   (The twin stainless-steel exhaust system still makes a very pleasing sound when the revs are allowed to climb.)  Despite the stiff suspension, the ride is reasonably refined.   Certainly, it allows the driver to know what’s under the tyres but still feels relaxed at motorway speeds.

As a driving experience, there are only two obvious niggles.   The first is the ridiculous indicator switch – which doesn’t actually move into an engaged position when fully indicating (unlike the sensible ones on the rest of the Vauxhall range).   Second, although positive, the gear lever geometry felt almost identical to that in the new Zafira Tourer; an inch-or-so off its length would usefully shorten the throw.

Inside, the Nürburgring has the evocative circuit shape embossed into the comfortable Recaro seats and the logo is repeated on the dash.   It is also still possible to see the bright green paint on the door mirrors, should you be in any danger of forgetting what you are driving.   Black, white or the Chilli Orange (pictured) colours seem to be the smartest choices (but another hack bent the orange demo one yesterday so lime green it is).   Incidentally The Stig used this very same car to do the standard circuit for a forthcoming Top Gear episode, so keep an eye open for it being driven as it should.

There’s no denying this is a fantastic car – and it would be wasted not to enjoy an occasional track day with it. But Corsas have traditionally been the preserve of the young and for many, its high price tag will keep it out of reach.   It would also have been good to see one of our famous British circuits used to name this model and leave Nürburgring for the German Opel brand, nein?

Model tested, Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nürburgring 1.6i 16v TURBO with touch-screen sat-nav, adaptive forward lighting and tinted windows: £24,090.

Power: 205PS (5,750 rpm), torque: 250Nm (2,250-5,500 rpm), emissions: 178 g/km CO2 (band I), 0-62 mph: 6.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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