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Vauxhall Corsa VXR Performance Tuning Guide

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Table of Contents


The VXR variant of the Corsa was first introduced in 2007 and has since undergone several updates and revisions since to keep it competitive in the growing hot hatch market.

Under the VXR’s hood lies a potent 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that delivers a thrilling 189 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. This power is transmitted to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox that offers precise and smooth shifting.

While undoubtedly a nippy car out the box, many owners crave that extra edge and want to extract as much performance as possible from their VXR.

Luckily, this is a car that is also very tuneable and responds very well to performance upgrades.

Whether you are looking for some extra straight line speed or want to stiffen it up in the corners, this guide has you covered.

Let’s dive right in!

Aftermarket Air Intake

Starting with the first piece of the equation, the intake system. 

You have a couple of options here.

You can go for an aftermarket cone filter/cold air intake. Or you can go for a performance panel filter.

When it comes to performance gains, the differences are marginal. In fact, most of the time people will upgrade their air intake for increase induction sounds. 

If you are after those addicting turbo sounds (not for everyone) then a cone filter from Ramair is your best bet. These will unlock a lot of the throaty induction sounds and blow off valve like noises when you lift off the gas. To keep the air cool and maximise performance when using one of these filters, you can install a heat shield to go along with it.

Many cone filter’s also come with an aftermarket intake pipe as well which can protect your intake pipe from engine bay heat.

Corsa VXR Ramair Intake

Ramair Intake

Fits the Corsa VXR D & E

Air Filter Heat Shield

Fits the Corsa VXR D & E

If you aren’t wanting any excess sound but are still looking for an upgrade, then you can go for an upgraded panel filter on eBay from a manufacturer like K&N. 

These filters are designed to allow more air flow into the engine over the standard filter, and don’t require you to replace the entire stock airbox. They simply slot into place of the standard one. They also have the added advantage of being more durable than the standard filter so won’t need replaced as often. 

We have a dedicated guide to the best induction kits for the Corsa VXR which you can check out below.

Corsa VXR Best Induction Kits

Performance Exhaust

Whether it’s for sound gains, performance gains, or both – fitting an aftermarket exhaust is a very popular mod within the VXR community.

For this guide, we’ll mainly be focusing on the most effective performance mods so we’re going to assume you want to extract as much power as possible by upgrading your exhaust. Don’t worry, you will get some additional sound from doing so as well.

One of the most restrictive elements of the VXR’s exhaust is the downpipe/precat and catalytic converter section. 

The downpipe connects to the exhaust manifold and is the first point of restriction in the exhaust system. By upgrading to a free flowing downpipe, you can relieve backpressure and help the engine breathe better. This can lead to a much more responsive car. 

When buying a downpipe for the VXR, you will normally have the option of buying it with a decat pipe or a sports cat/high flow cat. A sports cat is simply a more free flowing catalytic converter designed for performance gains while meeting emission regulations. 

While decat’s tend to be cheaper and free up the most restriction, they aren’t road legal. As such, their only intended use is for VXR’s that are set up for track use only. 

If you use your VXR on the road, you are better opting for a high flow sports cat. 

Decat Pipe

Fits the Corsa VXR D

Sports Cat

Fits the Corsa VXR D

After this we have the backbox section (sometimes referred to as the cat-back). 

If you are after sound gains, then this is the primary section you will want to upgrade. In fact, some owners will simply do a “backbox delete” where they’ll have an exhaust shop fabricate the exhaust from the catalytic converter section straight through out to the tailpipes. This can sometimes produce droning and a rough sound which doesn’t tend to sound as good as a properly designed backbox. 

There are various aftermarket cat-back options for the Corsa VXR. Cobra in particular produce some very nice sounding systems at a great price.

If you aren’t wanting to buy all the different sections of the exhaust separately, some manufacturers offer the complete exhaust (turbo-back). This includes the downpipe, sports cat/decat and the backbox/resonator section. 

Cobra Sport offer a turbo-back on eBay which you can check out for the Corsa VXR D, and the Corsa VXR E.

Corsa VXR Cobra Catback D

Cobra Catback

Fits the Corsa VXR D

Scorpion Catback

Fits the Corsa VXR E

Upgraded Intercooler

By upgrading the intercooler on the VXR, you can increase the volume of air that’s cooled and improve its efficiency. This means you’ll get better power delivery and response from your engine, ensuring that you can take advantage of your car’s full potential.

Furthermore, the increased cooling capacity of an upgraded intercooler helps protect against heat-soak on hot days or during long track sessions, which ultimately leads to more consistent performance and power output.

Many tuning companies that offer “Stage 2” or “Stage 3” remaps will require you to have an upgraded intercooler. 

One of the best aftermarket options is the front mounted intercooler from AIRTEC.

AIRTEC offer a “Stage 2” compatible front mounted intercooler for both the VXR D and the VXR E.

With a greater cooling capacity, this intercooler allows you to push on harder for longer without sacrificing as much power due to heat soak.

This isn’t a massively complex mod to install so you may be able to do this yourself on the driveway with some axle stands and tools if you are mechanically competent enough. Unlike some intercooler kits that require a lot of custom cutting and pipework, this doesn’t require extensive modification.

You may need to drill into the crash bar and slightly trim the back of the bumper to aid fitment, but apart from that it should be a relatively straightforward install.

Corsa VXR Airtec Intercooler D

Airtec Intercooler

Fits the Corsa VXR D

Corsa VXR Airtec Intercooler E

Airtec Intercooler

Fits the Corsa VXR E

Upgraded Injectors

Larger capacity fuel injectors are recommended if you are tuning your Corsa VXR. 

If you have fitted other induction and exhaust mods, then the injectors could become a limitation when it comes time to get it mapped. In fact, many will recommend it on these cars even if you are just going for a remap with no supporting mods due to the factory injectors already near pushed to their limits. 

What size injectors you go for will depend on how much power you are aiming to push.

For a simple “Stage 1” remap, 395cc injectors should be suffice. 

If you are aiming for larger power figures (250bhp+) then you can look at 613cc injectors. 

When swapping to larger injectors, you should have them mapped in by a professional tuner. 

Corsa VXR 395CC Injectors

395cc Injectors

Corsa VXR 613CC Injectors

612cc Injectors


One of the simplest and most effective mods for the Corsa VXR is a remap. 

By altering the engine’s ECU parameters, remapping enables the VXR to extract more from its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine.

As mentioned at the start of this article, these engines are very tuneable and respond well to performance upgrades. A remap is a prime example of this! 

You don’t really need any mods for just a “Stage 1” remap (which is usually just a remap with no supporting mods). However, upgraded fuel injectors are highly recommended for engine safety.

Provided your VXR is in good shape and healthy, you can expect up to 40bhp from a remap alone!

In addition, you can also gain a tidy 65lb-ft of torque that will make the car extremely responsive.

Very impressive figures that will transform the way the car drives!

Of course, you can get even higher power figures from a remap by fitting other induction and exhaust mods such as an intercooler and turbo-back exhaust. 

If you are fitting other mods, you should fit them first and then have the car remapped. This way the tuner can take advantage of the upgraded hardware on the car for better performance results. 


While not directly increasing performance, adding monitoring gauges to your car is a great way of keeping on top of your VXR’s performance and ensuring it is running optimally. This is especially important if your VXR is tuned and running higher boost pressures than normal. 

Some common gauges that owners install include a:

  • Boost gauge
  • Oil pressure gauge
  • Water temp gauge

Boost gauges are the most common and are a fantastic way for you to see what boost your VXR is producing in real-time. This can help you identify a problem if you aren’t getting the expected normal amount of boost which could be caused by a boost leak.

When introducing gauges into the interior, you may want to have them integrated as seamlessly as possible The most common way of integrating them is into the air vents in the dashboard. This ensures they don’t look too out of place and are easily readable at all times. 

If you want them to stand out a bit more, then you can also go for the classic A-pillar mounting where they are right in front of you at all times.

Brake Upgrades

If you are an enthusiast who enjoys driving your Corsa VXR to the limit, especially on the race track, then enhancing the braking power is something you should seriously consider.

The Corsa VXR comes with pretty decent braking setup from the factory. However, if you are a speed enthusiast then you may want that extra edge – especially if your VXR is tuned and pushing more power than standard.

More power demands more stopping power, which upgraded brake components can provide.

Not only this, but aftermarket brakes can provide far better heat dissipation over the standard brakes. This won’t be that useful in day to day driving but if you are pushing hard on the backroads or on the track then this becomes vital.

Under high-speed or frequent braking conditions, the brake system generates excessive heat that can lead to brake fade or even failure. An upgraded brake kit minimises this.

What upgrades you decide to go for will largely depend on your use and and budget. 

Big brake kits are going to be the best option for performance, but also the most costly. 

A good starting point is to fit high quality pads such as Ferodo’s , along with braided brake lines and some high temperature brake fluid. This isn’t a massively expensive upgrade that requires you to overhaul the entire braking system but will ensure your braking system is much more durable during hard driving sessions. 

If you are wanting a step up from this and are aiming for maximum stopping power then you can look at big brake kits from Brembo and Ksport.

Corsa VXR D Braided Brake Lines

Braided Brake Lines

For the Corsa VXR D

Ferodo DS2500 Front Brake Pads

For the Corsa VXR D

Lowering Springs

Lowering springs bring a host of enhancements to the Corsa VXR. As you install these performance-oriented additions, you can expect to witness a noticeable difference in various aspects including aesthetics and handling.

On the performance side, lowering springs lower the centre of gravity of the Corsa VXR and stiffen the suspension up a bit. This leads to reduced body roll which significantly enhances handling around bends and corners.

When it comes to looks, many owners will agree that lowering springs are a welcome improvement.  By reducing the gap between the tyre and fender, lowering springs give the Corsa VXR a more aggressive, sportier look.

While lowering your car is exciting, it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential issues that may arise from lowering the car too much.

One of the biggest challenges with over-lowering is the issue of ground clearance. Too low of a ground clearance can lead to underside damage because it leaves your VXR’s undercarriage more exposed to road hazards like potholes, speed bumps, and uneven terrain.

If you have an aftermarket front splitter installed, then consider this as well as this will be one of the first casualties of an overly lowered car.

If you are insistent on going very low, then coilovers will be a better option. 

30mm is a common drop height when lowering with lowering springs. Some owners will go for a 40mm+ drop but this is where clearance issues arise from car parks/speed bumps etc. It’s also worth noting that the lower you go the most stress is put on other standard components such as the shocks. 

You can get a quality set of lowering springs from H&R and Eibach.

Corsa VXR D Eibach Lowering Springs

Eibach 15mm Lowering Springs

For the Corsa VXR D

Corsa VXR D H&R Lowering Springs

H&R 50mm/40mm Lowering Springs

For the Corsa VXR D

Finishing Thoughts

We hope you found this guide useful in providing you with some tips and advice when it comes to extracting more performance from your Corsa VXR.

It’s wise to take a step back before modding and upgrading the car to think about exactly what you want in terms of performance.

Are you just wanting a little extra straight line power for the traffic light grand prix? 

Or are you wanting to turn it into a daily driven track car that can carve the bends with ease?

Having a plan and budget before diving in head first can save you a lot of stress and money in the long run. 

If it’s mainly power you are after, go for a full turbo-back exhaust, intake and intercooler and then have the car remapped with upgraded injectors. This will take you to near the standard turbo’s limit. 

Happy modding!