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