• Proper hot-hatch styling inside and out; strong performance all-round; very quick through the corners; terrific brakes; throaty engine note; superb Recaro seats; plenty of luggage space
  • Long-throw gearshifts; some turbo lag; cheap-looking screen; manual only transmission might put some buyers off

OUR RATING
8 / 10



2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review

The Opel Corsa OPC is the most powerful hot hatch available for under $30,000, and as it turns out, one of the most fun.

Priced from $28,990 (before on-road costs) the city-size Opel Corsa OPC – or ‘Opel Performance Centre’, the German marque’s sports-tuning off-shoot – is set to become the entry point for Opel’s performance range in Australia. Unlike the Astra OPC and Insignia OPC models that are on-sale now, however, the Corsa OPC isn’t expected until March/April.

At the heart of the Corsa OPC is a 1.6-litre turbocharged four making 141kW at 5850rpm and a none-too-insignificant 230Nm from 1980-5800rpm – plenty enough to fend off those other pint-sized hot hatches.

An extra 30Nm of torque arrives by way of an overboost function that briefly kicks in under full throttle in the top four gear ratios of the six-speed manual gearbox.

With this much grunt, the Corsa OPC outguns celebrated rivals such as the 132kW/250Nm Volkswagen Polo GTI and 115kW/240Nm Citroen DS3 – earning its title of the most powerful hot hatch in its class.

Only the acclaimed Renault Clio RS200 Cup produces more power (147.5kW), but uses a 2.0-litre non-turbo engine that makes less torque (215Nm). It also carries a $7500 premium over the Opel.

2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review

It’s enough to propel the 1280kg Corsa OPC from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 7.2 seconds, or 1.1 seconds quicker than the Clio (8.1), but two-tenths slower than the DSG-only Polo GTI’s claimed 7.0 seconds.

Behind the wheel, it doesn’t take long before the Opel Corsa OPC puts a grin on your face.

Right from the get-go you’ll appreciate the extra low-down torque afforded by the overboost facility. Power is both smooth and linear in its delivery.

However, mid-range acceleration is where the Corsa delivers its best performance – the proof being the Opel’s 80km/h to 120km/h time of 6.7 seconds – in fifth gear.

OPC has tweaked the chassis too – it sits 15mm lower to the ground than the regular Corsa, and the rear axle geometry has been modified for increased stiffness and a significantly reduced roll rate (down by a whopping 25 per cent).

The result being there’s next to no body roll even when you’re on the limit through turns three and four at Sydney Motorsport Park.

While the Corsa doesn’t get the Astra OPC’s powerful Brembo brakes, its 308mm front and 264mm-size discs do a superb job in hauling the car up under repeated heavy loads.

2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review

We like the electro-hydraulic steering too, especially the direct 13:1 steering ratio. It weights up nicely in the fast corners and lightens up during low speed parking manoeuvres, as it should do.

Given the Corsa OPC’s young target market, it’s no surprise that there’s nothing understated about the design. This is a car that craves attention.

A deep front splitter with satin-finish foglight surrounds, gills on the side of the bumper, odd-shaped side mirrors with a hollow base, and a Clio-style rear diffuser and triangular exhaust tip pump the aggression over the regular Opel Corsa hatchback.

Apart from the overcooked wing mirrors, the Opel Corsa OPC looks every bit the genuine article, especially when riding on the optional 18-inch alloys (up from the standard 17-inch rims).

Hot hatches of any breed require an interior that looks a cut above that of regular cooking models, and the Corsa OPC mostly delivers on that formula.

While the pixellated mono entertainment screen looks cheap, and the hard interior plastics a reminder that the Corsa hatchback is now six years old – having launched in Europe in 2006 – the real-deal Recaro seats (complete with side airbags) are truly excellent, both on and off the track.

There’s a refreshing clarity about the OPC’s dash after the bewildering collection of buttons you’re forced to decipher in its larger Astra OPC and Insignia OPC siblings.

2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review

The OPC-badged flat-bottomed steering wheel is great to grip and hold, too, but the shift lever doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as that in the Astra.

Like all Opel models sold in Australia, the Corsa OPC scores a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating, boasting a full suite of gear including six airbags, stability control with traction control and anti-locking brakes.

The Opel also gets a generous inventory of standard-fit creature comforts, including one-touch front windows (up/down), climate control air conditioning, OPC deluxe floor mats (front/rear), OPC door sill plates, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear park assist, auto headlamps and wipers, keyless entry and sports alloy pedals.

Options consist of just two items: premium paint at $595 and 18-inch alloys for $1000. Refreshingly for some enthusiasts, an automatic transmission isn’t available, and with Renault following Volkswagen with Polo GTI, offering a dual-clutch gearbox only in its next generation Clio RS, the Opel Corsa OPC may prove to be the budget, sorted, old school sweet spot for fans of the hot hatch genre.

Unfortunately, our test drive in the Corsa OPC was limited to the race track, so a more definitive review of the car focusing on ride quality on public roads and combined fuel economy will follow later in March, when test cars become available.


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OPEL CORSA BREAKDOWN

2013 Opel Corsa OPC Review
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  • dave

    Sounds like a good drive, pity about the tacky styling. Polo GTi no good as it doesnt come in a manual, Clio Sport too expensive for a baby hot hatch, so I have high hopes for the 208 GTi!

    • ben

      Work at Peugeot and own a opc corsa. The 208 is rolly polly and doesnt have the bottom end power. I like the exterior more in the Opc but thats questionable between the two, the Peugeot wins hands down no question in interior and appointment refinement.

  • Tex

    Well, compelling argument as I thought – seems like all the features stack up well with the pricing too.

    Great review CA. Sounds like if you can go passed the dashboard and long-throw gearshift for the pleasure of actually having a compact hot hatch in a manual… it is a no brainer – Opel wins!

  • Jober As A Sudge

    All that grey makes for a depressing looking interior. Luckily this thing sounds like it’ll be a ripper to drive so you may forget about all that.

    • Zaccy16

      yeah i agree, the interior is its only downfall, to old and cramped, that screen is from a early 2000′s astra/barina!

  • DanielR

    How is it classed as a light car at 1280kg when a neo Mazda 3 weighs less in the next class up…?

    • Phil

      It’s a European car, and European Directive 95/48/EC dictates 75kg for the driver is included in the kerb weight figure. The UK delivered Mazda 3 with a 1.6L weighs 1300kg as per those regs. So yes, it is lighter than a 3, though not by a lot.

  • Homer

    Yes 208 GTi looks nicer and the interior is made of a higher quality materials (look at UK website).Peugeot has more experience building hi-perf hatches than opel so it’s no brainer, 208 GTi for me/ 

Opel Corsa Specs

OPC : 1.6L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 3D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
OPEL
Model
CORSA
Variant
OPC
Series
SL
Year
2013
Body Type
3D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
1.6L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
260Nm @  1980rpm
Max. Power
141kW @  5850rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
112.6W/kg
Bore & Stroke
79x81.5mm
Compression Ratio
8.8
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
4.18
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
45
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1252
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1488mm
Length
4040mm
Width
1713mm
Ground Clearance
104mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.6
Front Rim Size
7x17
Rear Rim Size
7x17
Front Tyres
215/45 R17
Rear Tyres
215/45 R17
Wheel Base
2511
Front Track
1495
Rear Track
1488
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Sport Seats
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Performance Brake Package
Driver
Cruise Control, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 7 Speakers
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Power Windows Front
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control
Optional Features
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
10-O-17
Country of Origin
GERMANY