The Vauxhall Vectra seems to be associated with boring car’s, business cars and old men, but I don’t associate it with that. Ok, it’s got the looks of the executive, the IT bloke on his way to his next conference, but so have lots of cars! Ok, so I admit, this isn’t my car, I’m still nipping around in my fiesta, but I do get to drive dad’s Vectra sometimes, when he’s being kind, or can’t be bothered to drive. I haven’t drove it as much as I would like too, but do feel like I can write an opinion on it. So, it’s an R reg (that make it 1997!?) GLS 2.2 Automatic. This isn’t the basic of Vectra’s. This is the one with the larger boot, the one you don’t see around all that much as it’s got about an extra foot and a half added on the back, instead of just a shelf that the normal Vectra’s have. It was bought of a dealer which sells ex-company car’s, basically buying them straight off the companies or loan companies and selling them on. This meant that yes, ok, the car was a company car, but secondly it meant it had quite high mileage. 88,000 infact when my Dad purchased it. There are added bonuses of company car’s these days. Regular servicing MUST be maintained, if it was loaned, then there’s no way that the company can get out of the services, the car’s are normally looked after, and anything that has gone wrong will have been put right by the proper dealer and not the next door neighbour who owns a garden full of spare parts…or the equivalent! The model I’m writing about isn’t the basic model, infact it has an Airbag, Metallic Paint, Side Impact Bar’s, Air Conditioning, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Alarm, Traction Control and ABS. Not bad, but half of that is pretty much standard on a lot of car’s now, but it’s nice to have! INSIDE THE CAR Inside you will
be greeted with what seem to be pretty hard seats. However, having jumped into a few newer car’s, harder seats seem to be the standard this days. You will then look around the find a pretty bland, very black interior. The dash, steering wheel, everything is a black plastic, however, not a cheap plastic, this is a good plastic which could withstand many a knock and bump. It’s also not a hard plastic to touch, it seems to have a cushiony layer underneath in some parts. You’ll then notice the instrument panel, which is basically integrated with the rest of the dash, no square of straight lines can be found, if you get my drift. You’ll find a digital mile counter along with the usual analogue revs counter, speedometer, temperature and fuel gauges. Along with this, in the centre of the dash is a rather large LCD display which shows you the temperature and time, if the stereo is on it will display the radio station you are listening to or the tape direction along with the temperature and I think time. This is all in orange LCD, so not too bright on your eyes in the dark, unlike some Greens. Where would you be without your creature comforts!? Well you have two cup holders which are retractable when not in use and slide back into the dash. On the steering wheel are controls for the stereo coming in the form of Volume up and down, station frequency and power. Talking of the steering wheel, it’s height adjustable, so you won’t have too much difficulty finding a good driving position for yourself. Electric window controls are in the centre of the car, either side of the gear lever, so there’s no need for them on the doors, easily accessible for both driver and passenger. In the back you have a comfortable seat with headrests and an armrest comes down from the back of the seat for the comfort of 1 or two passengers, it’s easily retractable if you require space for 3. In the back you also have a n
eat l ittle place for maps and magazines on the back of the passenger and driver seats, so you can keep the kids happy with their comics, but put them away for neatness once you have finished with them. There’s also a neat, but small space behind the handbrake which could hold smaller objects such as ear rings which has a lid so smaller things can be put out of sight. I.C.E In Car Entertainment comes in the form of a pretty good Philips stereo. It’s not going to win any awards for the best looks, being black again with basically controls on it and a slot for the cassette (I’ve been trying to get dad to upgrade to a CD Player, but he’s not having it, not surprised when you look at the costs involved because of the steering wheel controls). I’ve already mentioned the controls on the steering wheel, so onto the speakers. There’s 2 speakers in every door, front and back, making 8 speakers, however, there are 4 main speakers and 4 tweeters to improve the sound quality. The bass comes from the main speakers, while the higher pitched sounds come from the smaller speakers. A nice sound system which provides good quality sounds, and this was the model put in the car when it was new, so pretty good there. I suppose they knew this car would spend a lot of time on the motorway, so a good sound system was necessary for those bored business men! THE DRIVE The drive of the car is a good one. I would say that being used to fiesta’s but even my dad said it’s a very good drive, and he’s a hard bloke to please. With the ease of moving everything to your preferred driving position, it makes for an even better drive. The suspension is excellent, not too hard and not too soft. You’ll feel when you go over those manhole covers, but it won’t shake the car, it’s more of a hard spring feeling, and noise is at a minimum. Road noise is acceptable, but th
e large ty res do seem to pick up the noise of the road easily, making for a slight rumble noise in the car when on a bad road. Steering is excellent, the wheel, when straight has a kind of lock feature. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but you can feel it clicking into the straight position slightly, but you can’t feel it clicking out when turning, which is rather nice. Steering is responsive and very easy on your arms. Now to the power!! I must admit, before I got in the car I didn’t think it would be all that powerful. I was wrong. My thoughts of the grandpa automatic box soon went out the window. The first drive I had of the car was driving along a 3 mile straight road and power was good. Then, my Dad instructed me to turn on the sports box via a button on top of the gear lever and then put my foot down. Well did I go! Your head moves into the back of the seat as the car picks up and adjusts itself to use the highest of the rev’s. Basically, it will rev the engine right upto the red and then drop down a gear, if you go a bit slower and then put your foot down again it will move up a gear and you’ll be off again. Ok, so I wouldn’t recommend it for casual driving, you’ll see your fuel gauge drop right in front of you, but for overtaking it’s a godsend, especially while on a duel carriageway going up a hill, and there are plenty of roads like that around here for me to make use of the sports box. It’s a very comfortable drive. I just have 1 problem with the car. Where the hell is the visibility!? Am I supposed to guess where the car is next to me when parking?! Am I supposed to be able to see where the boot ends or, again, just guess?! The back window is large enough, but it’s on a 45% angle at least, making visibility out of your rear view mirror pretty poor and parking the car proved pretty hard, especially after driving fiestas. Also, the wing mirrors are awful. What were th
ese designed fo r? Looks or Visibility? They are curved, so instead of getting a full mirror, you get 3 thirds, the last third being useless anyway. I’m quite a tall bloke and I can’t see any of the bonnet, again it’s a guessing game. This car is awful for visibility, so if your scared of parking, or if like me, it’s your dad’s car, be extremely careful when manovering. THE PROBLEMS Thankfully, nothing to report on here. Even though the car had 88,000 miles on when bought and now has 99,000, nothing has gone wrong….I say nothing, but the RAC has been called!! Shall I tell you the funny story!? Ahhh go on then! Thank god I wasn’t driving the car when this happened! My mum and dad are out on their weekly shop. Coming back, the car seems to have a mind of its own, the car would accelerate no matter what, even if there was no pressure on the accelerator it was off and nothing was stopping it. Obviously being an automatic, the problem was even worse. Mum crapped herself and was as white as a sheet when she came in, dad quite enjoyed the ride. However, this could have been extremely dangerous. The problem was due to one of the mechanics at the garage where the car had been serviced not doing their job properly. The throttle, or butterfly something…??! Had got stuck, even thought the problem was supposed to have been fixed. It wasn’t so much of a problem in the first place, the car was stalling when idle sometimes and they had fixed the problem, they just created another, more dangerous problem. The RAC man fixed it and nothing since. Apart from that, no mechanical problems have occurred. The Vauxhall garages are not the best around though, sloppy work is their cup of tea, they can’t even replace hub cap’s properly, but unfortunately, due to the warranty on the car, it has to be serviced by a Vauxhall dealer. Parts will cost you a fortune, be prep
ared to pay about £3 00 or more for an exhaust back box, maybe a £1000 if the auto gear box goes. Tyres are large, 17” I think and 205’s, so be prepared to fork out for your next set of tyres. It’s not suited to a younger driver like me, I just take the chance when I get it as it’s a nice drive and I have all the mod con’s like Air-Con that my fiesta don’t have. It is very suited to the business market, that’s why it’s done so well. For those of you who say they hate the Vectra, have a drive in one, I’m sure you’ll soon change your minds! It also does about 36mpg for those of you wanting to be in the know!