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The new Opel/Vauxhall Corsa's a smart-looking little hatchback that our friends in Europe and the UK get to enjoy while we watch from the sidelines. GM hasn't seen fit to send the little Fit-fighter our way, but with Saturn and Opel tied at the hip now, our hopes for such a thing seem far less unrealistic. After all, at this time last year, the idea of seeing the Astra in the US was a pipe dream -- one that's been fulfilled with the confirmation that it's headed over as a 2008 Saturn.

The latest reason to want a Corsa comes as both divisions release their performance variants. Vauxhall's just pulled the wraps off the Corsa VXR while Opel unveiled the identical Corsa OPC - a three-door pocket rocket powered by a 192-horsepower turbocharged 1.6L. Before you scoff at its 6.8-second 0-60 time as being "slow," know also that it has a top end of 140 mph and reportedly delivers a fuel economy of around 30 US miles per gallon in combined use (35.8 imperial mpg). That's a pretty good set of numbers across the board, and it sounds like the turbo Corsa wouldd make for one seriously fun commuter car.



Follow the jump for our final thoughts as well as Vauxhall's press release, and check out additional photos in our gallery.

[Source: GM (OPC photos - GM via Autoblog Spanish)]


Stylewise, the Corsa VXR/OPC doesn't disappoint in the least, with racy skirting all around, a roof spoiler, blacked-out grillework, big wheels and tires, and a very slick-looking triangular center exhaust outlet. Inside, it's very "New GM"-looking, with shiny piano black accents similar to those found in our market's Saturn Sky Redline, a VW GTI-style flat-bottomed wheel, and racy-looking sport seats. All in all: very nice.

This is the economy car we want from GM, not the Aveo! General, are you listening? Saturn Corsa Redline, anyone?

PRESS RELEASE:

CORSA VXR – VAUXHALL UNLEASHES ITS HOTTEST EVER SUPERMINI

· New Corsa VXR on sale mid-March

· Lightweight turbo 1.6-litre engine producing 192PS and more than 260Nm

· Top speed of 140mph and 0-60 in 6.8 seconds

The new Corsa has already caused quite a sensation with its bold styling and impressive road manners, but now Vauxhall has pulled the wraps off the ultimate version – the long awaited VXR.

The performance flagship of the range is every inch a VXR, designed from the outset to deliver the ultimate in hot-hatch driving excitement and style.

Immediately distinguishable from other models in the new Corsa range, the three-door only VXR comes with several unique VXR styling cues. The mirrors, front foglamp surrounds and centre-exit exhaust tailpipe all have a triangular theme, while the aggressive front and rear bumpers are unique to this model.

Sweeping side skirts and an angular roof spoiler help accentuate the three-door Corsa's already muscular design, while a mesh front grille, blue-painted brake callipers and optional 18-inch alloys further set off the VXR's performance appearance.

The interior is dominated by the sculpted, shell-backed Recaro sports seats and the race-car style flat-bottomed steering wheel. Drilled alloy pedals, piano black trim on the facia and unique VXR detailing on the dials and gear lever make sure the Corsa VXR looks as special inside as it does on the outside.

Power comes from a compact 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, developing 192PS and giving Corsa VXR the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 6.8 seconds, on to a top speed of 140mph. Like the Meriva VXR, it comes with an 'overboost' facility which can increase the torque output on demand to a maximum of more than 260Nm – useful for safe overtaking.

The power is kept in check with a dynamically-designed chassis including a specially-tuned ESP system, along with uprated brakes and suspension and variably-assisted power steering, which alters the weight and feel of the wheel depending on the way in which the car is driven – a feature unique in this area of the market.

Yet despite its wild performance and impressive technology, Corsa VXR promises to be an affordable car to run, with surprising fuel economy for a 140mph car. On extra-urban routes it returns 44.1mpg according to official figures and the combined fuel economy figure is 35.8mpg.

The Corsa VXR will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and will be available from Vauxhall retailers from mid-March. Prices will be announced nearer to the on-sale date.