Vauxhall Corsa Tuning

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The Vauxhall Corsa came out in 1993 as a replacement for the Nova, which was very popular at the time.

It has been changed over and over again, and each new generation has made it better than the one before.

There are many young people who like to drive it because it's cheap to run and insurance.

Even though there have been some tacky and tasteless modifications done to the car, many people think it is not a serious track day car. In reality, it is a very good car, I've owned 2 over the years, and was really pleased with both, they compared well to my earlier Nova and were nicely sorted with the right mods and upgrades.

It has a light chassis, a short wheel base, and a wide range of engines that make it a good project car to work on.

Some of our members have carried out insane engine swaps from Vectras, Calibra, VXR versions 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.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

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.

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Best Engine Mods for your Corsa

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the biggest gains compared to cost, aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they are doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Suspension - the stock setup is too soft on most Corsas, so I would look to improve the handling with a set of coilovers
  5. Brake upgrades - stopping the car is just as important as making it go fast so upgrade your Corsa's anchors with larger discs or better pads.
  6. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting

Vauxhall Corsa Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,power clutch

Typical stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam, sports gearbox.

Corsa Tuning

A popular starter car for a car tuning project the Corsa is cheap to run and insure

Handling/Suspension upgrades

The Corsa's were originally designed as a family run around 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.

Improving the handling for loads of people first priority in your Corsa tuning project.

We found that most Corsa factory suspension setups need tweaking, a few degrees of toe out for cornering or toe in for stability, -1 to -1.7, and a tiny bit of negative camber will dramatically improve your cornering and handling.

It's amazing how much better the suspension feels when it's properly aligned and adjusted. Remember that performance suspension changes are far subtler than lowering and hardening your ride. Better cornering with a lower centre of gravity

Going too low restricts suspension travel, while overly tight suspension causes wheels to skip instead of beding in and holding the road.

Drop the car by as much as 26mm - 40 mm and fit performance stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Add in some uprated brakes, and you'll have transformed the handling of your Corsa and are now ready for some power mods.

Corsa Brake Upgrades

It makes sense to be able to halt quicker. Too many people ignore brakes.

Decreased heat dissipation allows for longer brake life and better heat dissipation equates to improved stopping power.

The bigger the brake discs, the better they are at dissipating heat. This means that not only will the car stop more quickly, but the brakes will last longer before they start to fade because of the heat.

Adding high friction brake pads or replacing regular discs with vented and grooved ones may improve braking at a lower cost.

Corsa 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 drivable 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.

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.

Corsa Camshaft Upgrades

Sporty camshaft profiles helps you to boost higher RPM power and are better suited on petrol engines, than diesels.

In most cases you will see top end power benefits through performance camshafts on most engines.

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference.

The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large torque gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

Fast road cams usually increase the power throughout the rpm band, you may lose a little low end torque but your top end will be higher.

Motorsport and race cams, increase the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race cam is not great on the daily commute.

Corsa 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 engine 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.

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.

Corsa Exhaust Mods

Only replace your exhaust if it is interfering with your performance. Even with little power gains, most factory exhausts will flow well, but if you want to go much further, you'll need a better flowing exhaust.

Exhausts developed for racing may help enhance engine airflow, although a wide exhaust may limit flow velocity.

At all times, strive for a thickness of 1-2 inches. An aftermarket performance catalyst may be able to recoup that lost power without the need for illegal catalyst removal, allowing the car to remain legally roadworthy.

Because the higher size and surface area of a sports catalyst overcomes this constraint and enables the vehicle to run as it would without a catalyst, it is akin to a test pipe alteration while still keeping your car street legal.

This implies that a sports catalyst enhances performance to the level expected without a catalyst while still enabling your vehicle to be driven on public roads.

Because removing a catalyst is illegal in most countries and regions (and in others, you can't even replace a working catalyst), the catless mod or catalyst removal should be considered an off-road only modification.

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.

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 incheson the early models, and later models work well with 17's, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems we feel it ruins the fine ride quality of the Corsa.

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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