Friday - - Contents -

We look at the lat­est hot hatch on the mar­ket – the Opel Corsa OPC ’Ring Edi­tion.

The lat­est hot hatch in our re­gion poses to­gether with the class elite, but is it a wor­thy mem­ber of that group? wheels’ De­jan Jo­vanovic drives the

Opel Corsa OPC ’Ring Edi­tion to find out

This is a fan­tas­tic piece of kit that no­body will buy. It’s a shame, be­cause the hot hatch mar­ket has re­ally picked up in our re­gion, de­spite the miss­ing Re­nault­Sport mod­els and the fact that the oth­er­wise bril­liant Suzuki Swift Sport comes ex­clu­sively with a soul-sap­ping CVT.

Oth­er­wise the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG is al­ready in town, the Ford Fo­cus ST ar­rived ear­lier this year to much fan­fare, Fiat’s about to let the 500 Abarth loose, Hyundai’s tur­bocharged the Veloster, and the new Mazda 3 is a hot hatch in all but straight-line speed.

If we stick to Opel, the most note­wor­thy model in the Ger­man car­maker’s lo­cal line-up is the As­tra OPC with 280bhp and blis­ter­ing per­for­mance. At the re­cently hiked price of Dh140K how­ever, Opel’s push­ing its luck in the face of the vastly more re­fined GCC-spec Golf GTI Mk6.5 and the sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper Dh95,000 Fo­cus ST.

It was sup­posed to be up to the Corsa OPC to el­e­vate the brand in the re­gion’s petrol­head niche, putting them on bud­get-minded drive­ways with its pro­jected Dh85K price and spread­ing the Opel gospel.

Not gonna hap­pen, not at Dh115,000. If per­for­mance and fun were the only cri­te­ria the Corsa would make sense, but not in a seg­ment where Ford gives you dig­i­tal dis­plays and 50 more horse­power, while Volk­swa­gen of­fers sat­nav touch­screens and leather seats. Lo­cal Opel rep­re­sen­ta­tives say that their ini­tial low-price plan for the Corsa OPC was ditched in favour of a bet­ter-specced GCC model.

Thirty thou­sand bet­ter-specced? Does it have a Burmester sound sys­tem? Ce­ramic brakes maybe? A mid-mounted LT1? No. The in­te­rior isn’t ex­actly lux­u­ri­ous and the stalk switches have that sturdy feel of econ­omy-class air­line tooth­brushes. The ex­cel­lent leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel is the best part, so try not to touch any­thing else, al­though you’ll have to, be­cause the gear lever in the OPC Nür­bur­gring Edi­tion shuf­fles a six-speed man­ual.

At night the in­te­rior is im­bued with nice am­bi­ent light be­hind some dial switches, and, night be­ing dark and what not, you might not see the in­te­rior’s cheap­ness as much. Choose your hooning times care­fully.

The car is bril­liant to drive though. I was sur­prised to learn the two-door body style Corsa nudges 1.3 tonnes be­cause it feels feath­er­weight, re­spond­ing crisply, turn­ing in in­stantly and grip­ping well with in­creas­ing throt­tle through the turns. You can drive it ev­ery­where with TC off, and it’ll even step out ex­hibit­ing an amus­ing over­steer bal­ance.

The 1.6-litre turbo en­gine makes over 200bhp and keeps lag some­what low, but no­tice­able, al­though you’ll be turn­ing over at high revs on the high­way cruise. In any case you’ll be hunt­ing side roads and round­abouts.

Zero to 100kph takes less than the seven sec­onds quoted, but it’s the ’Ring Edi­tion’s me­chan­i­cal lim­ited- slip dif­fer­en­tial, sup­port­ive Re­caro buck­ets and undi­luted rack and pin­ion power steer­ing that fo­cus the Corsa OPC to­wards twistier stuff rather than traf­fic-light chal­lenges.

In other words, this fun lit­tle car is well worth the money. Just not this sort of money.

Re­caro bucket seats make it even sportier

The leather­wrapped steer­ing wheel is ex­cel­lent

The Corsa OPC weighs 1.3 tonnes but feels lighter

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