Described by one bright spark at the time as 'business at the front – party at the back' the description is apt for the Vauxhall Signum.
I don't use this image to belittle the Signum, or liken its presence in the car market to something as abominable as Dave Hill from Slade's mop – it just seems the best way to describe how incongruous both approaches seem at first glance.
The front half of the car is 99% Vauxhall Vectra, while the rear, with its extended wheelbase and fastback styling, is something rather more dashing.
The Vectra, when launched a little over 18 months ago, had a reassuring quality about its interior, and it was obvious comfort and refinement were a high priority during the design stages.
These features have filtered through to the Signum, along with extra comfort for two in the rear.
The rear seats are split 40/20/40, with each of the outer sections able to slide forwards and backwards, while the back rests also recline slightly.
The occasional centre seat cushion flips up to reveal some cup holders and other utilities, and is best used for these functions as it isn't much good as a seat. So rear seat passengers enjoy a disproportionately high level of entertainment, while for the driver and front-seat passenger, they might as well be in the Vectra.
I understand that for economy of scale reasons components are shared throughout vehicles produced by the same manufacturer (and indicator stalks aside, it is difficult to criticise the interior of the Vectra or Signum) but surely Vauxhall could have done something more to the front of the car to distinguish it from the Vectra?
If it had done this, Vauxhall could really have made the Signum seem like a new car in the range, which could be marketed as something special rather than a different version of one of the best-selling upper-medium cars on sale.
Leaving such matters aside, our long termer's fuel consumption is improving thanks to some responsible driving and long distance motorway work by its latest custodian, but there is a strange knocking noise coming from the rear, which is particularly noticeable at low speeds.
It sounds like the noise is emanating from the nearside rear suspension, but I'm not an expert so the Signum will be heading off to our local dealer for some attention. So in terms of everyday driving the Signum is proving to be an able companion – and who knows, maybe the mullet will become fashionable again.
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer): £138 per month