The 888 is fast and furious, but fun. At only £120 more than a 1.9 SRi 150, expect the 100 examples to sell quickly.

What's new?

Vauxhall’s VXR brand doesn’t do diesels. However, Lincolnshire-based dealer group Thurlby Motors has set out to prove that there’s potential for a fast and entertaining oil-burner by producing the Astra 888.

The dealer is offering 100 examples of a specially-tuned 1.9-litre CDTi Astra, which has been developed by Vauxhall’s British Touring Car Championship racing team, Triple Eight Motorsport. Each one features bespoke springs and dampers, BTCC-style 18in alloy wheels and massive 335mm front disc brakes with four-pot callipers.The cars will also wear Vauxhall’s VXR styling kit, and will be available in red, silver, metallic black and white.

Read our review of the latest Vauxhall Astra here.

What's it like?

Thurlby has fitted a two-stage engine management system to the 1.9-litre turbodiesel, upping its power output from 149bhp to 160 in normal mode, and to 195bhp when you hit the car’s Sport button. In that mode, the engine also produces 300lb ft of torque.

You’d expect that much muscle to obliterate any hope of holding the road with the car’s front wheels, but in practice it’s not so. Sure, there’s plenty of torquesteer just as there is with the petrol VXR, and you need to be judicious with the throttle to hold a tidy line through tighter corners, even in the dry. That said, this is still a very fast hatchback, reaching 60mph in just 6.8 seconds and capable of a claimed maximum of 145mph.

Should I buy one?

Vauxhall will be offering the 888 modifications as part of a performance upgrade available on its Astra Sport hatches, but you’ll pay more than £3500 to fit all of them to a £17,875 Astra 1.9 CDTi 150 SRi. Thurlby is asking just £120 extra. Expect these cars to sell very quickly indeed.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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