A journey into the Darkside

We pay a visit to diesel-tuning specialists and BILSTEIN dealers, Darkside Developments, to look at some of their project cars

Darkside Developments have made a big name on the diesel tuning scene. From their state-of-the-art facility in Barnsley, they build some of the most extreme TDIs on earth, including their monstrous SEAT Arosa, which currently holds the FWD diesel quarter-mile world record.

The Arosa is the most famous Darkside creation and illustrates just how far the common rail engines can be pushed. With 633bhp and 630lb/ft (with nitrous) and tipping the scales at just 860kg, it’s a genuine supercar killer. The savage SEAT is joined by another small car with a big heart – the Skoda CitiGo track car, which pumps out 350bhp and 415lb/ft.

Having recently said goodbye to their SEAT Leon race car, the new competition machine is an ex-VW Cup, Mk5 Golf TDI. This wide arched beast has been fully re-worked by Darkside after it arrived with no engine, interior, suspension – well, you get the idea! It’s now running a BILSTEIN B16 Clubsport setup, with adjustable top mounts, that have been dialled in for hard track use.

With a passion for racing and competition, Darkside test all of their products to the limit and the whole team are often to be found enjoying a track day.

However, it isn’t just out and out track cars that you’ll find at Darkside. Their Audi A5 Coupe showcases how far you can push the 3.0-litre TDI V6 engine to create a highly capable road car, that can also be used to good effect on track. But it isn’t just about the power (424bhp and 600lb/ft when we saw it).

Darkside spent a lot of time developing the chassis, which includes some BILSTEIN B16 coilovers that offer the perfect balance between ride height and optimum performance. They can be easily adjusted, depending on the job in hand – from road to track.

With so much power on tap, this thing is seriously rapid. In fact, in manual mode, you need to be quick with the paddle shifters so you don’t hit the redline. The power delivery is savage and you’re soon hitting big numbers on the speedo. 0-60mph can be achieved in just 3.72-seconds – phenomenal stuff. But with a heavy diesel lump slung over the front axle, surely the handling is compromised?

In a word, no. Thanks to the BILSTEIN B16s and supporting chassis upgrades, this A5 has a poise and directness that’s deeply impressive. Heading into a roundabout in fifth, simply bang down a couple of gears, turn in and the front end digs in, then fires you out the other side. The combination of quattro 4WD, BTCC-spec brakes and the B16s transforms the handling of this Audi, allowing you to fully exploit its potential. It really is impressive stuff. 

Best of all, after some spirited driving on country roads, or fresh from a blast on track, you can just jump in and drive it home in comfort with drama or fuss. As an all-rounder, it certainly makes a compelling case for itself. 

Click HERE to discover more about Darkside Developments.