Vauxhall Corsa Tuning
The Corsa replaced the Nova in the UK where Vauxhall brought their model names into line with GM and Opel.
The car is popular and sold millions of units and it is also popular with younger drivers due to the relatively low insurance costs.
The Sporty SXI and recent VXR models show what can be done with tuning in your Corsa project.
Power gains are always proportional to your base power. If you spend £1000 on a 1.2 and compare the power gain with the same money spent on a 1.6 you will see a far better return in the latter.
Engine swaps are popular options for Corsa owners, we have seen an older Cavalier SRi transplanted into one. A number of higher powered Astra engines have also found their way into Corsas, where the small chassis and light weight make a fun track day car.
So onto the Corsa tuning tips:- The 1.4 and lower powered engines are really not worth tuning, but you can uprate the handling and at least enjoy a car that corners well.
When you start off with 1.6 or a turbo diesel then you have a lot more scope for a big power increase. Stick with an engine swap if you have a smaller engine as this gives a far better power gain for your money.
You will need to check with your insurers before carrying out any work as you could invalidate your insurance. When it comes to tuning the Vauxhall Corsa engines you should first of all get the head sorted.
Typically this involves a big valve conversion, 3 angle valve jobs and a fully port matched, polished and flowed head. Increasing the compression of this engine will further maximise the power gains but you need to be careful with this as too much compression will result in detonation.
Blueprinting and balancing the engine will allow you to fully exploit the top end power of this engine and this will help to raise the rev limit. Most track day Corsa's we have seen have been balanced and have fast road cams fitted where high rpm power is the order of the day. There are a number of electrical issues on Corsa engines.
The most common we experience is an erratic idle, surging, power loss and cutting out. In most cases this is down to a sticky idle control valve although you should also check the MAF and Lambda sensors.
Don't ignore an engine warning light though, it can result in a lot more damage and a bigger repair bill if you do. Thinking about suspension kits is also a good idea as standard suspension is a little soft and vague.
Handling upgrades will typically comprise a drop of around 40mm on adjustable shocks or coilovers. Wider wheels will add noticeable drag with greater cornering grip.
Fit an anti roll bar to the rear and maximise the cars handling. The VXR and SXi Corsas are great performers and make great project cars. A low ratio gearbox and light weight flywheel make quite a good difference to the drive, ideal for track work. Don't drop these models by more than 35mm and you'll have great handling. Other modifications you should consider for your Corsa engine.
Fast road cams (avoid the softer and more aggressive competition cams), air intake mods such as a panel air filter (not a full induction kit) and sports exhaust with a sports catalyst. For the power mad you always have the option of fitting a supercharger or turbo but having suggested this - an engine swap conversion to a turbo engine is easier than getting an aftermarket turbo to work.
A supercharger will give a decent power gain and is relatively simple to add and map. Another option open to Corsa owners looking for a bit of easy extra power is adding a nitrous injection kits, this alone can add 25- 50bhp more power to your engine. What other modifications? Brake upgrades are popular.
We have seen some Corsa owners using the larger brakes from the VXR and SXi Corsa and Astra models along with a few Vectra brake conversions. If you have drums at the rear then fitting discs make a dramatic impovement but you will probably need a new larger servo.
We suggest that if you want a bit more information on Corsa Tuning you consult the following sources. TorqueCars have a comprehensive Corsa tuning article and also a very active, friendly and helpful Corsa tuning forum. If you have any tips to pass on please use our comments box below and we will update this article, after all we are all here to share knowledge. Please also let us know if we've missed out an engine or performance mod that you feel should be included in here.
Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.