We attended the launch of the brand new Opel Corsa OPC, the hottest and fastest member of Opel’s supermini family. Landing in Bilbao airport in northern Spain’s Basque country, we made our way outside to where we were met with a line of brand new 207bhp Opel Corsa OPC’s. Not only was the day looking bright, the sun was shining too.
Opel has taken its time to fire its latest Corsa hot hatch supermini into the mix. At the latter end of 2013, we saw the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi, Renault Clio RS and SEAT Ibiza Cupra all enter the market pretty much at the same time to fight it out. These are all solid hot hatches with differing characteristics so has the Corsa OPC been cleverly biding its time or has it something to hide?
Like the four competing models above, this is not the first Corsa OPC. The first incarnation was introduced in 1988 and was known as the Corsa GSi. It too was powered by a 1.6 petrol engine and boasted a meaty 111bhp back in the day. The most successful hot Corsa to date has been the outgoing OPC which has sold an impressive 23,000 examples since it was introduced in 2007.
Going by the looks alone of the 2015 Opel Corsa OPC, you would expect that figure to be smashed. Opel’s engineers wanted to make the car look like it was part of the OPC family and they certainly succeeded. Sitting 10mm lower than the standard Corsa, the OPC gets a wider, bolder and muscular bodykit including a hood recess to add a more dramatic look to the front of the car. Sitting on 17” lightweight alloy wheels with large Brembo 308mm front discs with the optional larger rear roof spoiler, the new Corsa OPC probably pips all of the above rivals for hot hatch appearance.
Dynamically, the new OPC has been completely overhauled. Opel’s performance boffins have left no stone unturned underneath fitting it with an engine that is derived from the Opel Adam R2 rally car. Opel has worked very closely with damper supplier Koni to develop an entirely mechanical new suspension system that features Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) which automatically adapts to the cars movements at any speed ensuring a comfortable ride at slow speeds and hot hatch performance at higher speeds. Under the bonnet, power is up by 15hp to 207hp with 250Nm from the 1.6 turbo 4 cylinder engine. A new turbo intake, intercooler and fuel injectors have all been added to increase responsiveness and the torque band has also been widened with an additional 35Nm available on overboost. A stainless steel Remus exhaust system has also been fitted along with a revised 6-speed manual transmission. For an additional €3000, you can now opt for the Competition Pack which includes 18” wheels, stickier Michelin Pilot rubber and a Drexler limited slip differential, a retuned Koni FSD and four-piston Brembo brakes.
On day 1, we tested the Corsa as standard without the Competition package. The ride was good at lower speeds but at higher speeds it lacked the composure of its rivals with the front wheels being easily influenced by the camber of the road under hard acceleration. I felt like I was fighting with the car when pushing it to its limits. It left me a little confused as I really wanted to like it. Hopping into the Competition Pack fitted test car on day 2, the performance driving experience was transformed. It felt like a much more capable and composed car getting the power down quicker and the acceleration felt more fluid and not as loutish. It gripped really well, even in the wet thanks to the Drexler differential fitted to the front axel and retuned Koni damping. It drove and felt like a hot hatch should. The Remus exhaust makes a good sound too and adds a nice bit of theatre to the driving experience. It really was surprising the difference the Competition Pack makes. While on Irish roads, the 17” alloys might be more suitable to everyday driving, but if you are planning as using it as a daily and as a track toy, the extra €3000 is worth every penny and really enhances the cars true capabilities.
The Opel Corsa OPC has a starting price here in Ireland of €29,995. It’s by no means the cheapest but considering it as an individual machine, it’s a brilliant rival to all of the above competition as it’s great to drive and comes loaded with kit. For pure driving dynamics, I would have to say that the Fiesta ST still has it pipped. But when it comes to standard spec, which includes Recaro bucket seats, leather multi-function flat bottomed steering wheel and Opel’s IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system, none of the above can really compete.