Vauxhall Vectra

The first Vectra was so maligned, it's a wonder Vauxhall didn't rename the car's all-new successor when it was launched in 2002. Significantly larger, it's much better to drive and a huge range of engines and trims means you can choose from 123 variants.

The first Vectra was so maligned, it's a wonder Vauxhall didn't rename the car's all-new successor when it was launched in 2002. Significantly larger, it's much better to drive and a huge range of engines and trims means you can choose from 123 variants. The Vectra is popular with fleets, so many will be one-owner, mid-range examples, with a full service history but above-average mileage. Coupled with quite steep initial depreciation, the value-packed Club models make great bargains with famed Vauxhall longevity. But the higher-spec Elite and SRi will be more saleable as the car gets older. Hatchbacks outsell saloons, but the spacious estate, launched in November 2003, is now the most desirable variant. Meanwhile, the Vectra's real draw is price: a two-year-old model is now half the cost of a new one.Checklist * Engine: a faulty batch of sensors can give incorrect temperature gauge readings. A few owners report ECU faults - watch for the yellow 'spanner' warning light. * Headlights: the lamps' aim can be faulty. It's a problem that the manufacturer and dealers are aware of, so cars which are affected will be repaired under warranty. * Electrics: the old Vectra was notorious for electrical gremlins, but so far the new car's record is much better. There are isolated reports of alarm faults, though. * Suspension: some early models suffer excessive rear suspension noise. It's not dangerous but is annoying; many cars have had this sorted under warranty. * Gearbox: selection of the first and reverse gears can be tricky, especially when cold. Generally, the Vectra's transmission is notchy but sturdy, so avoid any hard-driven cars that have crunching gears.Driving Impressions The Vectra's ride quality is of luxury car standard. Although the handling is remote and uninvolving, it's safe, while the standard ESP driver aid plus all-round airbags are reassuring. Diesels can be noisy, so the smooth petrol units are best, and all models make long trips painless. Space is ample and seats are comfortable, but children may find the high sides claustrophobic. The complicated one-touch indicators are difficult to use and unloved.Glass's View Every inch a business tool, and what it lacks in charm it more than makes up for in efficiency. Not a retail fav-ourite, but the Vauxhall is built to last, spacious and reliable. Depreciation has always been an issue for cars of this size, so buying used makes good sense. Avoid lesser-sought LS variants and opt for the better-specified Elite and SRi versions. Larger-engined models can be tricky to sell on, as cars in this class with high running costs aren't widely loved by used buyers. Jeff Paterson, senior editor, Glass's GuideLife With A Vectra I wasn't excited about getting a Vectra as a new company car, but was amazed that it proved to be so well built and comfortable. It's far more relaxing to drive than the Nissan Primera I ran before it. Martyn Crowther, Driffield, East Yorkshire My Vectra was bought when it was six months old, saving me £6,000 against list price. It's great value, but I wish it had normal indicator stalks! Jayson Margham, Waterlooville, Hants

Verdict

Refined, luxurious, stylish - get used to hearing these words when describing Vauxhall's Vectra. The newcomer is a huge improvement over the model it replaces, offering better equipment plus more comfort, character and desirability. Inside, it also has the build quality to rival many more prestigious manufacturers. The Vectra is terrific value for money, too. Add to this its refinement and practicality, and it's easy to see why we rate the all-new Vectra so highly.

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