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Vauxhall Astra Thurlby 888 1.9 CDTi Car Review | September 14, 2006

Driven September 2006

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Power versus grip is a dilemma of motoring physics that every performance Vauxhall in recent memory has tumbled over.

Too much power means the front tyres, already busied with steering, lose traction. This, in turn, creates all manner of dynamic hiccups, including understeer and torque steer, the latter of which is the Thurlby 888's speciality.

Thurlby is a Lincolnshire-based dealership that has teamed up with Triple Eight Engineering to give a handful of bog-standard Astras an extreme performance bent.

The result is accommodating and alarming in equal measure. Accommodating because it's a frugal, practical and believe-it-or-not diesel Astra; alarming because it's a frugal, practical, diesel Astra with 200bhp, trying to spit you into a ditch.

Twin ECU mapping means that you can pootle about with 160bhp and 275lb ft of torque. It's quick and just about under control, but not what you went to '888' for.

Press the 'Sport' button, and there's 200bhp and 330lb ft to fritter away in a cloud of clutch smoke.

However ginger you are with the throttle, there's a shattering degree of thrust. If the front tyres don't simply spin, you'll be wrestling them up the road.

Uprated brakes, lowered suspension and some nice design touches make it all feel pretty convincing. But it costs £18,995 against the VXR's £19,120. Resale roulette.

Matt Master

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