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Opel Corsa OPC Nürburgring Edition 2013

08/04/2013 05:43 |  Comments: 

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Self-appointed race-driver (whenever he gets a chance), avid car sports- and sports car-lover, manager of the mother site’s blog, Belsőség, he can always be found in the middle of the noisiest gathering. Steve has had a long-running habit of remodelling his facial hair bi-weekly. A Slovakian citizen but of Hungarian nationality, he lives in Budapest now. Has a wife, two small children and a dog.

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1st: buy this car for yourself. 2nd: take it to your favourite B-road

Doping is one of the biggest problems in nearly every top-sport today. Athletics are the most affected that's why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and sport officials have been fighting for many years now to put it to rights. This is still a cat and mouse game however, between the good guys and the chemists and it will always be until we set up records just to try to break them.

You might think that this is all right, but don't forget: this procrastination costs a lot of money, time, and leave a bad taste in the mouth of the fans and the kids, especially when their hero is caught in a doping scandal with his pants down, sometimes literally. There's a solution though: let them snort, inject, swallow whatever they want. Let the athletes, the cyclists and other healthy people ruin they life just for those damn seconds and meters if they want to, but at the end – when they receive their medals – give one for the chemist. It's as much his success as theirs. So, at every ceremony a man in white coat and with glasses stands beside a humanoid with tiny brains and big muscles and he shares the fame. Simple, isn't it?

I know it sounds weird, just as weird as the statement that the best hot-hatch in its class is an Opel Corsa (Vauxhall in some countries). The thing is that in this case all the credits go for chemist and not the mean athlete. More precisely: for a small group of enthusiasts in the Opel Performance Center.

It started out as a great, automotive deception. A tricky move to get more money out of the customer's pocket: take the middling handy Corsa OPC (VXR), put some Nordschleife stickers all overit, fit some bigger wheels and sell it for an extra 5000 Euros above the usual Corsa OPC's price tag.

When I heard that Opel wants to make a special, limited edition of the Corsa OPC, I was naturally suspicious. And a bit disappointed as well, since previously I honestly believed that the OPC-guys are really up for the driving pleasure itself, not for high profits. They are so keen when they talk about the pin bearing, limited slip diff and weight reduction... you get my drift.

What's more, the things they did were getting better generation by generation: the Astra OPC became a fully respectable top-hatch, the Insignia wasn't bad either (just a little bit heavy and not too explosive) and the Corsa OPC showed its worth all the way round despite it wasn't a wise choice against the Clio RS. There was progress, the promise of progression, and now they want to sell me this? The same car? Again?

Then one day, my colleague and galactic buddy, András, staggered through the doors and the only thing that he could say was gosh! Trust me: when a half-German suspension engineer tells you this much, you must take it seriously.

The looks of the Corsa OPC Nürburgring Edition do not tell you much. Okay, it was lowered by 20 millimeters; all right, it's got 18 inch rims with some rubber steamed to them: all to the effect that it looks like a giant Hot Wheels car rather than a real one.

As my eyes scanned the wide wheel arches, the wheels, the massive side skirts and the filigree-styled rearview mirrors, I could not believe that this car has something to do with a 1.2-litre Corsa, a car just as interesting as a taxman's trousers.

Of course, there are some moronic things that they were incapable of changing, like the crazy, screaming-orange backlighting of the big, monochromatic display that a drunken lorry driver can read from miles behind – or the small satnav-system buried at the bottom, a completely useless tool while driving. Of course they kept the badly fitted USB-port right in front of the cup-holder that screams cheap shit Corsa, but I tried not to pay attention to these details, while mumbling to myself: Okay, this car is about enjoyment, so let's enjoy it. I don't need any of those things anyway. Yes, there are some backseats too but don't have high hopes, because behind the thin, yet perfectly shaped and massive Recaro-seats, the car offers space so much space that an iron maiden would feel like a full-size jacuzzi for eight after spending some leisurely time in the back of the OPC.

550 horsepower, this is not your average Sierra,” commented the legendary Gordon Murray one of the greatest battles in the history of touring car racing between Tim Harvey and Andy Rouse with their RS500's at the Birmingham Superprix.

Two-hundred-ten horsepower, this is not your average Corsa.” That was my first thought as I switched back two gears before a sharp turn and pushed the accelerator to the metal. And it isn't a Corsa OPC either. This is something completely different. This little thingy has its suspension tuned up by Bilstein and saves 2.5 kilograms of unsprung weight on every wheel despite the fact it has four-pot Brembo calipers and bigger discs too. You must take it very, very seriously. The numbers tells the story.

On the famous Top Gear test track it throws a 1:31:0 in snowy conditions and beats some much more powerful cars, like the Speedster Turbo, the BMW E46 M3, the Nissan 350Z and even the Mégane RS. Moreover, this car was fine-tuned by Smokin' Jo Winkelhock at the Nordschleife. And when he proclaims that this is a good car to drive, you can bet the farm that it is..

Opel takes the car seriously too, so they squeezed out the last drop the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine could muster. The final numbers are 210 PS and 250-280 Nm of torque with overboost. And remember: that amount was enough to make you feel your Passat 1.9 TDI sporty.

It's a completely different story when this kind of power comes out of a small and revvy turbocharged, petrol-eater four-pot. It's available in a range that no diesel can dream about. Furthermore, every single horsepower carries a measly 6 kilograms of weight. Just one more than a Ferrari 360 Modena. The turbocharger with variable geometry gives you noticeable boost from about 1500 rpm, from 2200 is fully loaded until 5800, then the power peak takes on and the result is a perfectly usable engine with the temperament of a pitbull.

It takes 6.8 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. Shortly before the hundred mark we need to upshift, but its best attribute is elasticity. Even after a week of madness, It could still surprise me with its furious soul and hunger for revs. If you think that this engine will suck up all the petrol in the world, you're wrong. At normal driving normally (a nearly impossible task), the Eco-function asks for the 5th gear as soon as you reach the 50 km/h mark and the engine can do that without rattle and shake. It eats 8.8-9 liters for 100 kilometers (31-31.3 mpg) which is a consumption rate I did not honestly expect from a car like this. However, if the engine needed 25 liters of fine Hungarian petrol I would have gladly filled the tank while giggling like a girl. Why?

Because as soon as I squeezed the car through the first corners of my beloved countryside-road near the Bős-Nagymaros hydro plant, I had to admit that LSD is the real drug of the car-enthusiast. But this LSD was not synthesized by a Swiss scientist with weird eyebrows. No, it was invented by a man called Ferdinand Porsche and developed by a company named ZF in the 1930's. God bless them for that. And the guy at the Opel Performance Center who tuned the torque bias ratios with such perfection that I only felt in a Civic Type R Championship White Edition. A Mazda 3 MPS can only dream about what this little gem of a car can do on the road.

The racing-style seat grabs and holds my endorphin-filled body. Its perfect shape doesn't need extra strain from my back or neck but a few miles later I know that this car could be understood only by those who were born under a hydraulic jack with empty can of racing oil as their favorite childhood toy.

For the passenger – be he or she your wife or a troll living in a dark caves in relationship with a computer – this is going to be just a narrow, noisy tin. But that's fine, since only five hundred are made, so there's a chance that it reaches only the real car-lovers. Only they can rate it properly. It scares the hell out of the average car enthusiast.

They would never understand how beautifully the progressive suspension stiffens up, what a nice piece of engineering lies between the wheels and the steering wheel. It has so much response that you can even tell the colour of the raccoon's eye you drove over.. The Bilstein shock absorbers with a small Nürburgring-logo on them are the best in this category. Everything we need to enjoy driving a real hot-hatch is nearly perfect: the seat position, the distance between the steering wheel-gearlever and pedals. Only a handful cars are made that reach this level of perfection.

I caught myself spending the whole day on the same few kilometers of twisty roads, rushing the corners with rage and a stupid smile on my face. I really enjoyed the direct steering with only two turns between end positions. Every hard braking, every shiftback was a joy, every challenge of the waving asphalt was an adrenaline rush, the lunatic run between the white lines was flawless. It's fast as hell.

During my reckless but truly pleasant driving experience, the Corsa OPC NE got under my skin. It slowly perched on my cerebellum as a laughing parasite and took total control of my nervous system. The turns and hairpins open up in front of me like Cleopatra does for Antonius and owing to the perfection of the LSD, the inner wheel pulls me in with such an ease.

It's not a heavy-hitter with zillions of horsepower and mud-like weight. It's a light-footed ballerina, unbelievably skillful and with shoes glued to the ground. The stability – even in very sharp corners – is insane, you need to do really drastic moves to lose the tail but even then, it stays absolutely controllable. Just stay on the throttle and the car knows what to do to get you out of trouble.

Its rawness makes you dependent, and as the twin, fat exhaust starts its vroom-vroom again, you forget every other thing. Your everyday problems are gone, it totally cleans your mind and brings back the old days, when real rebels walked the Earth. This car belongs among them. It's the joint in Keith Richards mouth, it's Robert Plant's naked belly in 1973, it's Muhammad Ali shouting I am the Greatest. This is rock'n roll on wheels.

If somebody told me back in 2010 that one day I would write down that Opel made a better small hot-hatch from a Corsa than the Clio RS, well, I would have called him a moron and set him on fire. And now? Here it is.

The only problem? It is completely sold out. All 500 of them are gone. If you want one, you need to buy it used. It's possible to find pieces in good condition for around 20 000 Euros which is still a cartload of money for such a small car – and for a Corsa, for Christ's sake – but trust me: you won't be disappointed because it's worth every cent. Just take care of your driving license.

Because we can do things for money or from love. But nothing is better that doing things for pleasure. And that's what this car is all about.

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