My family is very small indeed, but has recently undergone a 25% increase in personnel, courtesy of my stepdaughter’s first baby. Four in total and one of them absolutely tiny, yet the Signum isn’t big enough. Fill the boot with the collapsed buggy and the various accoutrements of parenthood and you can pretty much forget the suitcases.
This is strange, because the Signum’s wheelbase is longer than the Vectra’s hatchback– at 2,380mm between front and rear wheels you ought to be able to wear skis in there. But its practicality suffers hugely for the fabulous quality of the chairs.
In the back you get individually adjustable recliners which slide back and forth, creating more legroom than our new baby will ever need, even when he’s 62. As a family car, then, it’s compromised, but is it a pukka executive car?
Well, yes. It’s blissfully comfy and makes exceptionally good sense for sweeping employees in their finest attire from meeting to meeting.
The suits will love it, not least because the high level of comfort is married to a refined ride and an airtight cabin that lacks road or wind noise. It feels every bit as suave as a massively more expensive Merc or BMW, which is a telling achievement of which Vauxhall should be proud.
This Signum – in 2.2-litre ‘Design’ spec – comes in at just £19,465. Not much money but, from a fleet manager’s point of view, an awful lot of car.
Let’s not forget ‘leisure’, because that’s the other life- need Vauxhall hopes the Signum will fulfil. It depends on what you do with your leisure time – if you’ve got only one friend but spend the weekends transporting wardrobes, it’s a Godsend. For four adults (or post-pushchair children) it couldn’t be a nicer or more anodyne way to move yourself around the country.
If you’re an enthusiast driver it will give you no joy, but the 2.2-litre petrol engine is quite perky, particularly in the mid-range and an insatiable appetite for motorways makes up for an allergy to hard cornering. Despite what Vauxhall may say, you can’t have it all.
There are, as ever, one or two annoyances. The over-officious computer keeps telling me I have a tyre pressure problem on the nearside rear, which is not the case. The strangely overdone aggression of the front spoiler results in a lip so low that it can’t clear the very modest gate-post socket in the middle of my drive.
The windscreen, which sustained a devilish stone chip, cost the best part of £400 to replace, courtesy of the rain and light sensors built in. And the engine, just occasionally, really struggles to catch when first fired up.
These are all issues, all niggles, but not deal-breakers.
Price (OTR): £19,465
CO2 emissions (g/km): 194
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer): £138 per month
Insurance group: 10
Combined mpg: 34.9
Test mpg: 31.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,300/33%
HSBC contract hire rate: £414 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles