Everything arrived in good time for their bodyshop to complete repairs to the car (our Vectra was rear-ended by a lorry, Fleet NewsNet, July 21) – all except those elusive bits of translucent plastic. They’re now on special order direct from Opel in Germany.
Thankfully, damage to our Vectra was confined to the tailgate and lights, and although cracked, the rear lens units are temporarily serviceable, enabling us to get the Vectra back on the road. Top marks to Marshall’s bodyshop for the high standard of work fitting and colour-matching the new tailgate.
It beggars belief that manufacturers don’t carry sufficient spares for their most popular models. The Vectra is as mainstream as it gets, so surely Vauxhall’s parts stock should reflect this. As we go to press, the best estimate for delivery is another week. Possibly.
In my brief time with our CDTi 150-engined Vectra, it has shown itself to be an utterly competent big mileage motorway cruiser. Road and tyre noise are well muted.
The engine, after some initial start-up gruffness, quickly settles down to quietly pile on the miles. Then factor in the 60-litre (13.2-gallon) fuel tank, high overall gearing, a combined 46.7mpg with potential 600-mile-plus tank range, the SRi’s firmly bolstered but very comfortable front seats and a hushed interior – and suddenly that early-morning rush up the M6 doesn’t seem so bad.
The Vectra estate is a long car and using the Signum’s extended platform (wheelbase is up 130mm from the saloon) was an inspired move.
That extra length is put to good use with rear legroom to shame a limousine. And with the extended rear overhang, its load area is generous enough to accommodate a new washing machine, loaded lengthways, without the need to fold the rear seats.
With rear seats down, only a Mercedes Benz E-class Estate beats the Vectra for capacity: 1,850 litres v 1,950 litres. And remote-blipping to open or close the tailgate is a godsend when struggling with bags.
Unfortunately, all this praise has to be countered with a little disappointment over the car’s performance.
The 150bhp engine is identical to that of our old Saab 9-3 TiD 150. On-paper comparisons are within a cat’s whisker but the Vectra’s initial throttle response feels tardier, with little in the way of urge below 2,200rpm.
Undoubtedly, the Vectra’s extra weight will have some effect. But, more telling, Saab’s engineers re-mapped the engine management to improve the 9-3’s low engine-speed responses. So c’mon, Luton, let the Saab bods have a quick tweak!
Model: Vauxhall Vectra estate 1.9 CDTi 150 SRi
Price (OTR): £20,965 (£24,415 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 165
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £73 a month
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 46.3
Test mpg: 44.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,825/24%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £419