Performance Vauxhall - - NEWSFEED -

An­other bat­tle, and this month, it’s an odd one. On the face of it, the big­ger XE should walk this, but its baby brother has plenty of pos­i­tive at­tributes that might tip the bal­ance in its favour...


The C16XE was the small-block ver­sion of the in­fa­mous Red­top, first found in the Corsa GSi, then the Corsa Sport (badged as an X16XE). Its Lo­tus-de­signed in­duc­tion sys­tem re­port­edly de­liv­ered a power fig­ure high enough to trou­ble the As­tra GSi and this, com­bined with the dizzy­ing hot hatch in­sur­ance prices of the time, re­sulted in Vaux­hall redesign­ing it to choke back the power. That means that per­for­mance is still there, wait­ing to be unlocked. A Mantzel or Dbi­las inlet can net you be­tween 10 and 20bhp, while cou­pling these with ex­haust mods can see you up to 150bhp. It’s also worth re­mem­ber­ing that the ‘baby XE’ can be had for a frac­tion of the cost of a Red­top, and they’re still rel­a­tively plen­ti­ful.

Down­sides? Well, un­less you spend mega-money you’ll never match the 2.0 power fig­ures, and tun­ing them over 200bhp of­ten means sac­ri­fic­ing on-road driv­abil­ity with ag­gres­sive cams.


This en­gine doesn’t need much in­tro­duc­tion – it’s one of the cor­ner­stones of the tuned Vaux­hall scene, re­spon­si­ble for pro­pel­ling some of the most fa­mous and well-loved fea­ture cars ever built. De­signed to al­low Vaux­hall to go rac­ing, then plonked be­tween the wings of the Mk2 As­tra GTE in an al­most un­changed form, the XE didn’t so much move the goal­posts of the hot-hatch mar­ket as to­tally change the game. You can tune them to in­sane lev­els (over 300bhp has been seen in race en­gines), and you can fit them into al­most any­thing that’s wear­ing a Vaux­hall badge.

On the other hand, there’s the fact that these are now old en­gines, so good ones com­mand a pre­mium price. Tun­ing parts can also be ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially if you want to push past the 200bhp mark.


: C20XE

It’s a tough one, but the C20XE just pips it thanks to its fan­tas­tic per­for­mance po­ten­tial. That said – if we were build­ing a light, track­fo­cussed Nova or Corsa, it’s the 1.6 that we’d plump for.

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