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Gavin Burr’s 430bhp Clubsport is a highly modified example of the last raw Corsa D VXR…
Gavin Burr’s 430bhp Corsa VXR Clubsport.
If ever there was a Vauxhall with a name representing a statement of intent, the Corsa D VXR Clubsport is it. Presented as a short-lived replacement for the Nürburgring-badged supermini prior to the arrival of the Corsa E, the Clubsport carried over many of its predecessor’s finer qualities (Bilstein B8 dampers, Eibach springs, a Drexler Motorsports multi-plate limited-slip differential, Brembo stoppers, a tweaked ECU and bum-hugging Recaros), but added extra sauce with a Remus exhaust and that Porsche-mirroring moniker. There was only one problem: the price. Despite being a ‘last hurrah’ for the Corsa D VXR, the Clubsport attracted a premium of almost £4,400 over similar offerings from rival manufacturers, meaning only a dedicated few can lay claim to walking out of a main dealer showroom with the keys to the ‘Burg’s younger brother.
Gavin Burr is one such Griffin nut. “I owned a Silver Lightning Corsa D VXR for a few years,” he tells us. “I was captivated by the model after spending time in a mate’s Arden Blue example. I tuned the silver car to Stage 2, but I figured a factory fresh Corsa D VXR Nürburgring would provide me with an instant upgrade in terms of performance and specification, which is why I walked into my local Vauxhall dealer with every intention of handing over my savings in exchange for my name appearing on the logbook of a brand new ‘Burg.”
His plans changed when he learned about the availability of the VXR Clubsport. “I liked the idea of owning a more exclusive sporty Corsa. I ended up taking all the tuning parts off my silver VXR and part-exchanging it for the Asteroid Grey Clubsport I own today,” he recalls. His plan to build upon the platform of power and handling
afforded to the model at the factory was plain to see from day one. “As soon as I collected the car, I equipped it with the Airtec intercooler, Piper exhaust, air filter and JS Performance silicone hoses I’d removed from my silver VXR. This was always going to be a car subject to extensive modification!” he laughs.
Gavin says the Clubsport’s limitedslipper made the biggest difference between the feel of the standard VXR and his new ride, but a Stage 2 map courtesy of SM Tuning also contributed to enhanced poke, albeit only to the 230bhp mark. “I spoke to Gary Conway at VXR tuning specialist, GCAP Performance, about my desire to invest in a K06 turbocharger setup,” continues the Audi technician from Lincolnshire. “I told him I wanted my car to be chucking out 450bhp. It was at that point he suggested I saved my pennies for a Garrett bhp booster supported by a raft of Nortech Performance equipment.” That’s precisely what he did, resulting in the blueprinted GCAP build now powering the grey Griffin.
At the heart of the beast lies the original A16LER engine, now kitted- out with Wössner pistons, PEC rods, ARP fasteners and a modified cylinder head loaded with GCAP fast-road camshafts and Piper valvetrain kit. Following Gary’s advice, Gavin forked out for a Garrett GTX2871R, which was promptly upgraded with a .72 A/R housing. A Turbosmart blow-off valve and external wastegate were added to the mix, as was the suggested Nortech gear. “There’s a tubular exhaust manifold, a downpipe, induction system, radiator fan shroud, air-conditioning delete kit and fluid transfer pipes, all from Nortech,” smiles Gavin.
The car’s fuel system was upgraded with a Quantum high-flow pump, 615cc injectors and a Courtenay Sport custom map written to the standard ECU. “The availability of the Courtenay team on a Saturday made it convenient for me to drop-off and collect the car outside of my
“he suggested i saved mY pennies For a garrett bhp booster and nortech eQuipment”
working hours,” reasons Gavin. The resulting 430bhp and 313lb/ft torque proved the Norfolk-based Vauxhall tuner was a good choice when it came to reconfiguring the
Clubsport’s electronic brain, even if the power figure wasn’t as high as had been hoped for. “Ideally, I was looking for 450bhp, but it was apparent twenty ponies less would deliver pretty much the same sense of power without forcing the car to lose any of its driveability.”
The difference between 430bhp and 450bhp may be barely noticeable to most when driving on the public highway, but the jump from Gavin’s silver VXR’s Stage 2 output to his Clubsport’s newfound lease of life felt nothing short of amazing. “I drove close to a hundred miles to my home from Courtenay Sport’s North Walsham workshop,” he continues. “I can say without doubt it’s the best hundred miles I’ve ever driven. The car was an animal!” Heightened power is transferred to the road via an M32 six-speed gearbox enhanced by a Helix flywheel and six-paddle clutch, but these aren’t the only hidden treasures present. Looks closely and you’ll spot a KSport eight- piston brake kit, plus the welcome appointment of a DNA Racing adjustable rear anti-roll bar.
The standard rear anti-roll bar on the Corsa D VXR range is known to be soft, a less than desirable characteristic exaggerating understeer. Presented by GCAP, DNA Racing’s well-priced adjustable antiroll bar kit increases the rigidity of the Corsa D, Corsa E or ADAM, resulting in a more planted Griffin with significantly reduced body roll. Being adjustable, the DNA upgrade allows Gavin to dial-in a lesser or greater degree of oversteer to suit his driving style or track condition – ideal for when he’s bombing around his local circuit, Cadwell Park.
“Throughout the project, I’ve been happy to leave my Corsa in Gary’s capable hands with an instruction outlining how I want the car to behave. I’ve always been pleased with his suggestions, including the installation of the DNA anti-roll bar, which works well with the car’s Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs.” Not that he’s content to stop pushing for even greater levels
“the dna racing anti-roll bar works well with the car’s bilstein dampers”
of performance. “I was using the Clubsport as my daily driver,” he explains, “I’ve recently bought a Volkswagen Golf to smoke around in so that further development work can take place on my VXR. Aware that I’m sacrificing its ability to behave in a civilised manner when I’m commuting to work, I’ve told Gary I want to hit the 500bhp mark. I also want to experience more torque. GCAP always builds with safe, reliable power in mind, which is why it’s likely my requests will be bolstered by the purchase of a Garrett G-Series turbocharger and higher capacity fuel injectors.”
Living up to its name, this cool Clubsport is its master’s weekend track toy. The model was so well presented from factory that he deemed only minor exterior alterations necessary. There’s those carbon-fibre bonnet vents (fitted by Mr Bonnet Vent himself, Nick Wiley) allowing trapped hot engine bay air to escape, while OPC fog light surrounds promote extra airflow through lamp deletion. It’s a similar story inside the car, where the absence of rear seating gets rid of unnecessary weight in an effective move to increase overall pace. The lack of back-end furniture reveals an injection of red brought about by an Enhance Performance strut bar, while a smattering of dash-mounted gauges keep an eye on engine operating conditions.
Despite being criticised when new for its staggering price point, the Clubsport has gone on to become regarded as the most desirable offering in the Corsa D VXR range. Sure, a Nürburgring is easier to come by and is available to buy in wider selection of colours (Clubsports were only finished in Asteroid Grey, Carbon Flash or Glacier White), and yes, in standard trim, there’s little to differentiate a ‘Burg from a Clubsport other than the newer Corsa’s branded tailored floor mats, model-specific sill kick-plates and Remus exhaust pipework, but if you’re the kind of Corsa fan interested in buying a highly modifiable, track-focused VXR offering a degree of exclusivity, then look no further than this last-of-theline speed machine. Just be sure to snap one up before everyone else cottons on to the idea!
Gcap’s Gary conway showing off the newly fitted Dna racing adjustable anti-roll bar
Bonnet vents help hot air to escape from tightly packed engine bay GAVIN JOB Technician BURR at an Audi sales and service specialist FIRST VAUXHALL/OPEL Silver Lightning Corsa D VXR FAVOURITE VAUXHALL Lotus Carlton BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CORSA VXR CLUBSPORT The screamer pipe is nothing short of mayhem unleashed! WORST THING ABOUT YOUR CORSA VXR CLUBSPORT The endless supply of fuel OWNER
The corsa D VXr’s interior still feels fresh many years after it was first revealed