“Day 1 of Driving a Corsa OPC Nurburgring Edition:
My car arrived and I immediately had to race to Bryanston for the reveal of the Ferrari 458 Speciale. On my way there I encountered a regular Corsa OPC who slowed down on the highway, pulled in behind me to see my exhausts, came up next to me and flashed two thumbs up with a huge grin – you could say I felt like a boss!
I got to the Ferrari launch and was asked to move the luminous green OPC to the back parking, no one said so out loud, but I know they only asked me to do so because my OPC Nurburgring was more of an attraction than the 458 Speciale.
On my way home, a guy in a souped up Corsa OPC, a white one, took photos of me, he then chased me and tried to race me – he lost.”
I’ve never been one to keep a diary – as my high school teachers would attest, it was a miracle if I ever even looked at my school diary when they mentioned homework – but I can imagine if I did, my week would the Corsa OPC Nurburgring Edition would be summed up by similar passages to the one above, every day. It was an attention grabber, and everyone gawked and gaped and snapped shots of the green monster wherever I went.
It may have had something to do with the Grasshopper Green paint; further enthusing the name “Nurburgring Edition”, referred to as the Green Hell by Jackie Stewart, or possibly the dual tail-pipes at the back, or maybe it was the Nurburgring insignia on the B-pillar that caught everyone’s eye. But if they’d only known what it felt like to drive, they wouldn’t have left me alone after only a smile and a photo or three.
You see the Corsa OPC ‘ring Edition has an old school charm. Despite its 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-pot engine, with 154kW – up from the standard OPC’s 141kW – and 250Nm (280Nm on overboost), it has a good old fashioned kick to the forced induction. Below 3000RPM there isn’t a ton of torque – although there is enough to get you rolling rather rapidly – but when the turbo spools and the boost kicks in, it sort of boots you in the chest, holding you firmly into the grasp of the leather clad Recaro bucket seats with white stitching and Nurburgring insignia on the head rest. It’s rather good fun actually and there is something to be said of old-school kick like that.
From standstill the OPC will reach 100km/h in a claimed 6.8 seconds, and rocket on to a top end speed of 230km/h (easily), and it’s quite believable; although with 154kW it would’ve been nice to see a quicker sprint time. Once moving, the dual exhausts emit an angry snarl as the little OPC revs, with a short “vroomf” as you shift gears. The aural experience attempts to slightly mimic that of the big brother Astra OPC almost, but with less of an occasion about it.
The biggest trump card for the Nurburgring Edition comes from the addition of a Limited Slip Differential, lowered Bilstein suspension, and a Bilstein tuned chassis. The addition of the LSD means the OPC is finally able to ground its power – something the regular OPC always had a tough time of – and the effect it has is massive. The OPC now pulls around corners sharply without losing traction, it sits firm and flat through all sorts of manoeuvres that in themselves seem to defy physics, and most importantly the OPC digs deep into the tarmac and bites hard to give you all the grip it can. There were moments of understeer, controllable understeer, where the tyres couldn’t hold on anymore, but due to the superbly tuned chassis, I could have positioned the OPC on the road with my eyes closed – such was the communication between the driver and the road.
The steering was pinpoint accurate, another key point of the Corsa OPC Nurburgring Edition, but at high speeds it felt a little fidgety, wanting to change direction almost a little too quickly at times. The brakes were equally impressive, as Brembo brakes should be, and bit hard and sharp every time.
But the Corsa chassis and drivetrain is old, something that couldn’t be forgotten. The short-throw gearbox with tightly knit gears was wonderful to work constantly, but felt notchy, and under hard acceleration would grind while shifting from 1st to 2nd gear – much like the Astra OPC did. The car feels its age, and doesn’t quite feel as lithe as some of its competitors. But when the going got tough, it surprised me by digging its heels in deep and responding better than I ever expected, much like Ryan Giggs, really – he may be 40 years old, but he can still pull of skilful strings of play that simply astound the younger generation. The OPC handled sublimely, and gave me that heart-warming feeling of pride every time a challenger backed down after being out-handled and out-gunned.
The Nurburgring Edition did have faults though, some that would be more obvious in everyday driving than they would in competitors vehicles. The ride was rather jarring, no doubt thanks to the lowered suspension, low profile rubber on 18-inch alloys, and the bucket seats designed to hold you in place around corners. Visibility was also rather poor, thanks to the small rear windows and chunky B-pillar, not to mention that at 8.8l/100km, it also isn’t the most economical competitor in the segment. The interior looks dated, and lacks all the gadgetry we associate with other brands within the segment, again showing the age of the Corsa.
It’s a focused machine, dedicated in its intent, and focused in ability. In the right conditions it blossoms and shows off flourishing ability second to none. With a hefty price tag of R343 200, not everyone will consider buying one, but with less than 25 left in the country of the total 65 brought in, it’s a limited edition that pays fitting tribute to the current generation Corsa OPC, likely to be replaced within the next year or two. The Opel Corsa OPC Nurburgring Edition is a monster, miniaturised, and it serves to prove that monsters don’t live under the bed or in the cupboard, they live in the garage.
|No. of Cylinders:||
154kW @ 5850RPM
250Nm @ 2250-5850RPM
6 Speed Manual
|0-100km/h time (Claimed):||
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||
|Fuel Consumption (Regular driving, combined cycle):||
Front Wheel Drive
|Price (as tested):||
Author: Roger Biermann