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Corsa OPC a truly angry hatch

28.02.2014

THE small-hot-hatch segment has arguably never been better. We have no less than five very accomplished pretenders to the throne. The Corsa OPC may have fallen out of favour with many enthusiasts of late due to its age and the fact that three brilliant vehicles have recently entered the fray in the form of the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and Renault’s Clio RS, all joining the evergreen Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Opel revived its OPC by sending it to the Green Hell, or Nürburgring, as it is officially known. The result of its time in boot camp is an array of new weapons, including a new light-weight braking system from the guys at Brembo, who also included high-performance brake linings.

The ride height has been lowered by some 20mm and there are even new spring and damper units from suspension specialists Bilstein. Don’t expect much in terms of ride quality - on the freeway it is fine, however, on roads with imperfections the ride is very hard, a compromise those seeking handling prowess will have to be willing to make.

On the electronics front, new control algorithms have been programmed into the traction control, stability programme and ABS systems to match the other performance enhancements. The handling is truly fantastic in this OPC, the turn-in is sharp and the front end so communicative that as the driver, you can be absolutely precise with your inputs, which results in you hitting every apex and maximising your cornering speed.

There is even a multi-plate limited-slip differential that pulls you out of every corner, reduces understeer and even prevents wheel spin in a straight line. You can feel the differential reigning in any potential torque steer as you press on. It gives the car a more visceral feel although I did find myself wanting a bit more aural drama, even if it is artificial as in many of its rivals.

There is plenty of power in the Nürburgring Edition. Its new class-leading figures of 154kW (up from 141kW) and 280Nm during overboost have been achieved by fettling with the ECU and turbo. There is also a new twin-exit exhaust. The six-speed gearbox is a let-down: it just does not like to be rushed and in a hot hatch, particularly one as focused as this and which competes against lightning-quick double-clutch units, it is a bit of a problem when you have to shift slowly.

The OPC Nürburgring has to be one of the most purposeful-looking hatches on the market. Its squat stance, new 18-inch forged aluminium wheels and apple-green paint job scream performance hatch. There are even Nürburgring stickers on the B-pillars to keep the enthusiast happy. Inside there are Recaro racing seats with white stitching and the imprint of the track etched on the headrest. The interior is looking a bit dated now, though, and the centre console and infotainment is slipping behind the touch-screen colour displays as seen in its rivals.

In summary, the Nürburgring OPC is a very good tool for fast driving. It ticks all of the performance and aesthetic boxes while offering something that will appeal to true enthusiasts. However, at R343 200, it is expensive and the Corsa package is starting to show its age against the new hatches.

There are only 65 of these limited-edition models, many of which have been sold and may turn into somewhat of collector’s items. If you can find one, it does include a 5-year/120 000km warranty and a 3-year/60 000km service plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse
28.02.2014
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