evo Icons - Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS driven - Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS driven - page 3

A drive over the Route Napoleon in Southern France introduces us to one of Vauxhall's hidden historical gems

Through alpine curves, the Chevette drives much like a front-wheel drive hatch, albeit one lacking in torque steer. Understeer is the dominant characteristic, and the balance feels front-led. That might change when really exploring the car’s limits – or on a wet road – but Tony Pond and Pentti Airikkala impressions would require plenty of commitment.

Confident in a healthy surfeit of grip over power, it becomes natural to carry a little more speed into corners and get on the throttle earlier than you might in something spikier. The steering is quick to respond and weights up early, the effort required varying in proportion to load.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

The brakes need a little more care – tiny discs up front and something called ‘drums’ on the rear axle – but the solid pedal provides reassurance and they’re easy to modulate.  The endearing squeak they generate into downhill hairpins as they warm up is simply part of the charm.

Today, the hot hatch power race has spiraled out of control, but at the time only Chrysler’s Lotus Sunbeam could touch the HS for performance, with its 150bhp Lotus twin-cam.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The Chevette never quite matched the Lotus for kudos, and never touched Ford’s success on the world’s rally stages either, but with Pond and Airikkala at the wheel, it still won the British Opel Rally Championship in 1979 and took the manufacturer’s title in 1981.

If there’s one realm in which the Vauxhall comfortably beats its Ford rival, it’s affordability. While an Escort RS2000 now commands upwards of £15,000 – and Mexicos more than that – it’s still possible to find HS Chevettes at four-figure sums. As homologation specials go, and on the evidence of a drive on some of France’s greatest roads, that’s something of a bargain.


Most Popular


Best sports cars 2020

If you value driving thrills but can't stretch to the price of a true supercar, a sports car could be the ideal middle ground
29 Nov 2019

RM Sotheby's Abu Dhabi auction highlights

Yet another RM Sotheby’s auction is on the horizon, and we’ve picked out the top lots 
29 Nov 2019

New Audi RS6 2020 review

The Audi RS6 has long appealed on its deeply desirable complement of attributes. Does this all-new model mess with the formula, or just build on it's …
27 Nov 2019
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019