Wensleydale – an appropriate location to get a flavour of the Corsa VXR, the small car that acts like a Big Cheese.

Skidding around mud-caked roads in the dales is great fun as long as you can avoid the tractors and the hayricks. And a lot of the time, you can’t.

One Farmer Giles type sent me into a wheelspin, chewing languidly on cow cud as his ancient contraption wove its way around the Yorkshire backwater.

Once I had consigned him to a fading figure in the rear view mirror I was able to open up the gears and resume slashing through scenic roads around Hawes, Catterick Garrison and Richmond.

The sporty little hardtop’s 1.6 litre engine growled menacingly via a hip triangular tailpipe as I negotiated the tricky roads with help from an ESP system which allowed a modicum of rear wheel slide on throttle bursts.

Handling was overall excellent and well tested by the twists and turns of the rural landscape. Around 190bhp propels you to 60mph in a respectable 6.8 seconds.

As for looks, they don’t disappoint either. The VXR brand is the arm of Vauxhall and a lot of money and sweat has been poured into its racy and dramatic exterior. Front and rear spoilers, triangular lights and mirrors and wraparound bumpers give a real sporty feel.

Inside, it’s a real flier’s cockpit with specially moulded recaro seats, leather racing steering-wheel and cool black and metal trimmings.

Very impressive in terms of visuals, engine performance and road control. Up there with the best superminis.


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