Vauxhall Corsa Tuning
"Of Corsa you can!"
The Vauxhall Corsa was introduced as the replacement to the popular Nova back in 1993.
Today it has become a very popular car with young drivers as it is cheap to run and insure.
Sadly many tacky and tasteless modifications have caused many to dismiss the Corsa as a serious track day car.
Some of our members have carried out insane engine swaps from Vectras, Calibra and Cavalier Sri's and created stunning Corsa tuning projects.
When you have a small car with a power output in excess of 150bhp you have something to be truly proud of that is both practical and fun on the track.
Vauxhall provided a wide range of engine options from a base engine of 1 litre up to a lively 1.8 litre engine in the SR models.
The bigger the engine the better the performance gains you will get from a Corsa tuning project.
The cars were originally designed as a family runaround therefore little attention has been given to the handling and performance characteristics.
Thankfully a huge aftermarket parts supply has sprung up with everything ranging from springs to engine conversion kits.
Engine tuning modifications
Sadly there is little that can be done to CHEAPLY increase the performance of the 1.4 and smaller engine sizes but a lot can be done to enhance the handling of the car. TorqueCars recommend lowering the car (no more than 40 millimetres) and fitting adjustable springs and dampers.
Engine swaps can work well in the Corsa and we have seen some impressive Calibra, Vectra and Astra engines dropped in with great results. The key is planning your Corsa project well and researching your mods carefully.
Peak power is all well and good but if you want a truly driveable car it will need a wide power band and lots of low down torque. Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains as far as a bolt on part goes. Don't choose a competition cam unless you are only going to use your car on the track or it will have a lumpy idle and be impossible to drive in traffic.
If your car is making 40% or more of a power gain then it will need more air and fuel so fuelling upgrades are important mods. Look to aftermarket parts suppliers for uprated injectors and fuel pumps and in some cases you'll find that your manufacturer offers uprated options as fitted to performance models.
One minor annoyance with the Corsa is the fact that the steering wheel is slightly offset therefore not in the centre of the pedals. Fitting larger pedals will help to compensate for this a little and enable you to perform heel and toe gear changes.
The following modifications are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.
Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.
Stage 1 mods: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel
Stage 2 mods: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,power clutch
Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam, sports gearbox.
Engine swaps are always popular with TorqueCars members and Vauxhall engines seem to be very interchangeable. An Engine swap seems to be the most cost effective way of increasing the power, with Corsa tuners looking to the higher powered Astra models for suitable donors. Some have also attempted to insert Vectra and Calibra engines into the Corsa engine bay.
From 2000 the model was revised and the driving qualities were improved along with reliability. The 1.8 SRI model was undoubtedly the hot hatch performer of choice and this would benefit from an induction kits, for sports exhaust, FSE fuel pressure boost valve and fast road cams.
Intake and exhaust modifications.
We see too many Corsas with induction kits and large (read massive) exhausts and then the owners complain about flat spots and loss of power.
Breathing mods are usually easily sorted and probably one of the easiest mods to do. For most Corsa projects go with a high flow sports panel air filter - this really is all you need unless you are desperate for the induction roar from an open filter kit.
On larger engined models and turbo vehicles WHICH HAVE HAD 40% power gains an induction kit will help to fully realise the peak power providing you address the problem of it sucking in warm engine bay air by using a cold air. Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can find this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches - depending on the state of tune and size of the engine. See our article on performance exhausts for details of the issue around large bore exhausts and how to choose the right size for your engine.
Gas flowing the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools When you start tuning your Corsa you may well discover that your OEM clutch starts to complain so get a performance clutch. Big valve conversions and 3 angle valve jobs also work quite well on most Corsa engines giving more torque.
Vauxhall Corsa Wheel modifications.
The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the Corsa Big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this is due to the change in your effective final drive ratio. For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 16 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.
Please join our forum to discuss tuning options and ideas with are other TorqueCars members who have Corsas.You will also find the car tuning articles around the site of interest as these cover car modifications in great detail.
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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.