But using our Vectra to help my son move house convinced me that the big Vauxhall has many strong qualities – and I shall not be so dismissive of the model in the future.
I hadn’t been inside a Vectra in its present incarnation and the first thing I noticed was that this car seems to have been treated to a large dose of steroids – it’s massive. I’m sure the older Vectras weren’t half as big.
The rear seats fold down into the floor without having to remove the headrests – which is a small but handy plus point – and with just the two seats up in the front, the Vectra offers a vast 1,850 litres of space. In the event, we managed the move in three loads.
But it wasn’t only the loadspace in the back that impressed me about this car. The seats are firm yet comfortable with plenty of side and lumbar support, in keeping with the SRi badge, and the dash is stylishly laid out in a large swathe of silver and grey.
Under way, you can hardly believe that this diesel powerplant only measures 1.9 litres.
With 150bhp on offer, it takes the car smoothly from 0-60mph in 9.5 seconds and would go on to a top speed of 130mph – that’s some achievement from such a diminutive engine in such a large car.
One natty little extra that I completely missed out on was the hydraulic tailgate. Dab the keyfob twice and it rises majestically on its own with the help of two hydraulic struts. Press a button on the end of the tailgate and it lowers itself in the same way.
But as I had only borrowed the car for the weekend and didn’t have time to study the manual, I was blissfully unaware that the rear end was anything special. Imagine my frustration when trying to yank open the back door – it just didn’t seem to want to play ball.
When the operation was explained to me I went out into the car park to try it out properly. It works fine but only if you point the key in exactly the right place.
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) 22% tax-payer: £73 a month
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 46.3
Test mpg: 44.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,875/24%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £420