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£19,380 when new
Love the VXR brand or hate it, you have to admire Vauxhall’s dedication to excess. It tops most of its model ranges with a bit-too-fast nutcase version fulfilling a single-minded obsession to be brutally quick - and then builds an in-house tuning shop to sell you even more power and noise. The latest VXR to get the full Performance Centre treatment is this Corsa, pumped up by a couple of grand’s worth of aftermarket mods and an addictive dollop of attitude. Start it up, and the exhaust pops and burbles like an R400 Caterham, pricking the ears of the heavily gelled within a two-mile radius, and making me wonder if this car should have one of those ‘mosquito’ things fitted to the roof. Floor it past 4,000rpm and the Corsa serves up its 220bhp with a proper howl and a tug in either direction from the steering wheel. Change up and it spits at you like a firecracker, goading you into driving even harder. The stiffer, lower suspension crashes over bumps but will feed your hunger for fast corners. I didn’t get the bastard sideways, but I did bomb down to Bournemouth enjoying the huge, laugh-out-loud torque, vice-like grip and general lairiness. The world hated me. And that, I guess, is the rub. This VXR swaps refinement for a temper that you’ll either enjoy trying to control or get pissed off with. I liked it, but whether you’re as comfortable with it is up to you. Paul Regan
The fast Fiesta is more grown up in all the ways you’d want, marginally less chuckable than before, but still hilarious
£15,685 – £31,655
The Mini is an excellent hatch, but does it have to be so grown up?
£13,280 – £21,595
It's not the car it was, the Renaultsport Clio. Still fast, with a nice chassis, but not a patch on before