ROAD TEST 27 JUNE 2001 Ian Holmes
Vectra 1.8 16v GLS Estate 1999 'S' - £4350.
Ok, so where to start? I bought the Vectra in May 2001. Its a Jan 1999 and comes in a fetching(?) metallic burgundy and offers electric mirrors, air conditioning, electric front windows, annoying Travel master system, ABS, drivers airbag, oh and 100,000 miles with full(ish) service history.
After a few days of ownership the dreaded engine management warning light began to appear when the car was started from warm or hot. This brought many sleepless nights before finally plucking up the courage to get the thing checked out turned out to be the camshaft sensor that was duly changed by an independent garage at a cost of around £65.00. Not too bad.
Driving the car is not fun; safe it is but fun it is not. The steering I find accurate without being too heavy. The rear suspension is atrocious on a car this new and can only be compared to a knackered 1987 Citroen Visa diesel that I had the misfortune to own until recently. On smooth roads the suspension is acceptable but only just, take it away from smooth, newly laid tarmac and its both uncomfortable and uninspiring at once. When it is asked to negotiate such things as a slightly sunk manhole or sunken road repair the rear has a habit of skipping sideways just a little not dangerous, but unnerving. Pushed hard the car lacks response and leaves you feeling rather deflated and not flattered in the least.
The interior is lacklustre but the driving position is variable in all the usual ways and it doesnt take too long to find a comfortable position. The interior has now developed some interesting rattles and creaks but the cloth doesn't betray to 100k mileage. Having no sunroof, the headroom is immense and this gives the cabin a fairly roomy feel. The load area is large with the rear seats in position but with the rear seats laid flat you can fit an awful lot of 'stuff' in it.
The equipment level is good enough and it all still works (take note owners of French/Italian/Spanish cars). The standard stereo system gives a good sound and the air conditioning is very effective on those long hot drives.
The engine is willing and revs cleanly to the redline, if a little raucous at times. Fuel consumption is averagely 35-36 mpg.
After all this you would be forgiven for thinking that I don't like the Vectra, but you'd be wrong. The car was bought as a workhorse and it does an impressive job of carrying the aforesaid 'stuff' around with no fuss and in reasonable comfort. I have always found Vauxhall's cars to be damn good tools, but not really much more than that.
To sum up, if you're looking for a load carrier and not a racing car, take one for a drive - they're cheap enough, fuel consumption is OK and servicing/spares are also reasonably priced.
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