Adding the Nurburgring moniker to any car, let alone a hot hatch, is asking for trouble. Add to that a lary burnt orange paint job and a body kit full of flares, spoilers and wings and the result is, usually, an asthmatic sham that is more RuPaul than Usain Bolt.
Combine that with 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels shod with rubber band thin 225/25 R18 tires and suspension that's nearly an inch lower than the VXR it is based on and it reads for a recipe that results in a ride with all the finesse and charm of a skateboard.
These sporting metaphors continue in the car's cabin, with the thin-shelled Recaro hip hugging seats and the flat bottomed steering wheel. So is it all show and no go?
On paper it shouldn't be with 202 bhp poured into the front wheels from the 16-valve 1.6i turbo engine, 184 lb.-ft. of torque from 2250 to 5500 rpm could spell traction problems with all the cornering ability of my Golden Retriever on ice. However, Opel/Vauxhall's performance division has seen fit to install a torque-sensing mechanical limited slip differential to help counter all that power, along with lightweight Brembo discs breaks and inverted Bilstein monotube dampers.
The verdict? For once this is a car that lives up to its predictions. The motor is smooth and tractable, at ease poodling around in high gears, or being thrashed to within an inch of its life it never becomes harsh or booming, just a steady flow of power and torque. What's more the LSD contains the power and torque remarkably well, even on the greasy roads I drove the car over; it has traction aplenty and if you pile on power mid corner, the nose simply tucks in tighter to the apex and then hauls the car away from it without a sign of breaking traction.
Combine this with taut body control and these GM engineers have created nothing less than terrific little car and, what's more it feels fairly pliant and comfortable across the pock marked roads in the UK.
At a shade over $35k it is not exactly cheap, but in this instance the price tag is justified.