Instead of referring to vehicles sitting within a hair’s breadth of the car in front at 70mph on the motorway, our new Vauxhall Vectra brings with it an altogether more positive and less dangerous phrase.
For £500, our new car is fitted with a powered tailgate, which opens and closes on its own at the push of a button.
With just under 1,000 miles on the clock, its main use so far has been for showing friends what a great gadget it is, rather than gaining access to the cavernous rear end, accompanied by much ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’, from children and adults alike.
The device is part of a generous package of additional equipment fitted to our new Vauxhall Vectra SRi CDTi 150, a model which strengthened the Vectra line-up this year with the addition of the estate and a Euro IV compliant diesel engine.
The engine is perfectly suited to the role of the estate, offering the shove needed to keep up with town and motorway traffic, while returning economy in the mid-40mpgs.
When we first encountered the new estate, its sheer size impressed road tester Simon Harris. He pointed out that Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man who ever lived at 8ft 11.1 inches by the time he died in 1940, could have had a nice lie down in the load bay, when fitted with the optional folding front passenger seat, and he could keep his hat on.
The Vectra trounces all-comers with a maximum capacity of 1,850 litres, 50 litres greater than the Vauxhall Omega estate.
Despite the size, it doesn’t look cumbersome, with slender side rear windows that merge gracefully with the good-looking rear end. As for handling, early impressions suggest it is at home on back roads and motorway alike.
The new engine, which generates a healthy 148bhp at 4,000rpm and 232lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm, feels more than capable of hauling the copious quantities of luggage it can swallow.
Because the engine is Euro IV compliant, it avoids the 3% benefit-in-kind tax penalty, so drivers pay tax based on 19% of the car’s P11d price.
Our model is also fitted with adaptive forward lighting, which turns with the steering wheel, satellite navigation and the Flex Organiser, which stops items rolling around in the boot. Even in the short distance the car has covered so far, they have all proved valuable features.
However, one goody that is surprisingly absent is electric rear windows – they are not available even as an option. However, they are standard on the Elite specification model, which costs £2,500 extra.
Price (OTR): £20,965 (£24,415)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 165
Company car tax bill (2004/5): 40% 1,842/ 22% 1,842
Top speed: 130
Combined mpg: 46.3
Test mpg: 40.5
Power (bhp/rpm): 148/4,000
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 232/2,000
CAP Monitor residual value (three years/60,000 miles): £5,025 (24%)
HSBC contract hire rate: £434
Expenditure to date: nil
WHAT WE EXPECT: High-mileage workhorse
THERE is plenty to put to the test on this model, ranging from the value of the powered tailgate, to the performance of the Euro IV diesel engine, carrying capacity, comfort and the adaptive forward lighting. We expect it to be at its best on high-mileage journeys when carrying capacity is needed, demonstrating some of the Vectra’s core strengths as the transport of choice for thousands of fleets.
THE MANUFACTURER’S VIEW: More growth expected
DAVID Pugh, brand manager for Vectra and Signum, said: ‘The Vectra Estate is obviously well suited to the fleet market and we see it as a means of increasing our market share as we continue to build awareness for this model.
‘The combination of huge cargo volume with uncompromised style and refinement is winning admirers. It accounts for about 13% of Vectra fleet sales and we expect further growth to around 15% once this model is fully established.’
Vectra’s new range of Euro IV performance diesels are the latest in the growing trend of diesel engines that offer more than just good fuel economy. More than half all fleet Vectra sales this year will be equipped with diesel engines.