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The legendary nameplate returns, but does it make the car it is affixed to legendary?

Over the years, some very special machinery have worn the fabled “GSi” badge. Just the mention of the nameplate will have finely honed machines like the all-conquering Opel Kadett ‘Superboss’ GSi and the frisky Corsa B GSi immediately spring to mind, followed my numerous stories about their giant-killing abilities.

And while times have changed, and the OPC badge has replaced GSi as most fiery Opel you can buy today, the upcoming Corsa GSi is no less as cool and capable as the models that came before it. With South Africa not receiving the hot Corsa E OPC, Opel South Africa felt it would be a fitting send-off for the current Corsa generation to introduce the sporty GSi variant.

Despite not being as powerful as the Corsa OPC, the Corsa GSI does offer plenty of bang for your buck. Under its vented hood is a 1.4-litre turbocharged motor that produces 110kw and 220nm - the exact same outputs as the South African-spec Corsa Sport 1.4T 5-door. And thanks to a short-ratio, 6-speed manual gearbox, it will run from 0-100kph in 8.9 seconds, and onto a top speed of 207kph. In-gear tractability is said to be particularly impressive, with the warm-hatch needing just 9.9 seconds to accelerate from 80 to 120kph in fifth gear.

Hardly the stuff of legends, but when you factor in that it shares its chassis with the Corsa OPC, gets stronger brakes than its Corsa stablemates, and was setup on the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife by Opel's Director Performance Cars and Motorsport, Volker Strycek; you realise there is more to this car than just a badge.

The GSi is further differentiated from the rest of the range by its OPC-like exterior design, which features larger air intakes, a sculptured bonnet and modelled side sills. Opel says that the roof-mounted wing “creates additional downforce”, while the sporty chrome tailpipes contribute to its unique stance. The interior is equally special, and gets a sports steering wheel, a leather gearshift knob and aluminium pedals, all of which are complemented by optional Recaro performance seats we have come to associate with Opel’s performance cars.

The Corsa GSi will officially launch in South Africa in the coming weeks, and will be the sportiest variant of the Corsa sold locally since the previous-generation Corsa OPC. While not a direct rival to the Volkswagen Polo GTI and the Renault Clio RS, the Corsa GSi will be priced at R365 900 and is said to offer a driving experience befitting of the iconic GSi nameplate.

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