Fleet News

Vauxhall Vectra 2.2 DTi LS - 3,630 miles

Vauxhall

Review

A SUSPECTED electrical fault in the early days of the Vectra's spell with Fleet News back in November, which saw the oil warning light come on, has proved to be a one-off and is now a distant memory.

The awful court-based TV advertising campaign for the car has thankfully become a distant memory too, and the driving experience during my two-week spell in the car leaves me satisfied that rather than the car being a revelation, it is simply a darn sight better than the model it replaces.

It is in the driving seat that this impression is strongest. Held in classically robust Vauxhall seats, the driver is presented with a dash that is the product of logical, tempered thought, resulting in an instrument panel that is understated in its design and functionality – and one of the easiest to get to grips with of any car I've tested recently.

Take the heating controls as an example. The vogue in climate control these days is for an LED display showing the temperature to half a degree Celsius. But why? I don't need to know that the car's temperature is 24.5 degrees. What I want to know is that I can feel my toes and that the drip on the end of my nose isn't about to freeze.

The Vectra has the solution – a circular dial with red on one half for hot and blue on the other for cold. You simply turn it left or right to get the right temperature. Perfectly simple and, like all the other switches and buttons on the dashboard, it feels robust enough to survive the bump and grind of high mileage driving. And you don't need to take your eyes off the road to use it.

However, there is one piece of hands-on kit in the car that I hope will not make it into mid-life revamp.

The indicator stalk on the left of the steering wheel has proved a nightmare. The handbook says that you should press the stalk up or down until you feel some resistance and the indicator will flash three times. Firmer pressure sees them come on for longer. Turning right wasn't a problem, but left? It was impossible to find a consistent method of getting the stalk to function properly, whatever pressure was exerted on it.

Sometimes the indicator flashed once, sometimes it didn't come on at all. Anyone finding themselves behind a Vectra that at one moment was indicating left and the next right, I apologise, as it was probably me since the pressure needed to cancel the indicator is equivalent to that exerted by a butterfly's wing in flight. I await the inevitable comments of fellow road testers…

Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): £58.30 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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