Spec your 148bhp Corsa SRi with air-conditioning – as you would surely have to – and it will set you back just £1350 less than the range-topping 189bhp VXR version (£15,625, air-con standard). With that extra 41bhp costing just £33 per unit, you might reasonably wonder if there is any point at all in the warm Corsa. Why not just up your monthly payments a little and get the hot one?
Well, maybe you’d prefer the SRi’s group 13A insurance rating to the VXR’s group 16. Maybe you also find the VXR’s styling a touch tarty, something the SRi counters with a smart and far more subtle collection of spoilers and skirts.
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Inside, there are aluminium pedals, a leather steering wheel and firmly padded bucket-style seats, and it’s sat in one of these where the SRi best makes its case. Drive it back-to-back with the VXR and it immediately feels more nimble, more eager to please. The SRi’s suspension has less initial resistance in its movement, so rather than fidgeting over humps and bumps, it absorbs them. Get it loaded up in a bend and the amount of roll is similar to the VXR (i.e. a little more than is perhaps fashionable), but its progression to that state feels more natural. It’s a sensation not unlike that found on a generation-old French hot hatch, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Yes, there’s less outright grip, but the limits of the Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres wrapped around the 17in alloys are communicated early and clearly, and the power on offer from the detuned turbocharged 1.6 is a perfect match. It all adds to the SRi’s feeling of playfulness. Meanwhile, the gearshift has a light but positive action, and although the steering is not as weighty as it could be, it responds keenly and gives decent feedback. And with less torque on offer, there’s less torque-steer too…
Of course, the lure of the ultimate VXR Corsa will be hard to resist, but if you can look beyond the figures on the spec sheets and live without the more desireable badge, you may find that you’ll have just as much fun in the SRi.
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1598cc, turbo|
|Max power||148bhp @ 5000rpm|
|Max torque||155lbft @ 1850-5000rpm|
|Top speed||130mph (claimed)|