Fleet News

Vauxhall Vectra 2.2 DTi LS - 10,044 miles



JOURNALISTS who write about cars don't especially like models such as the Vauxhall Vectra.

It's not one of those horrors that makes us lick our lips with the anticipation of writing vitriol; nor does it set the fingertips tingling with the expectation of paying homage to something really special.

Our Vectra 2.2 DTi LS hatchback is like a perfect commuter train. It runs smoothly on time and never lets its occupants down. Neither, of course, does it have the capacity of truly delighting them.

Damned by faint praise, you might argue, is the Vectra's lot, but this capacity for good behaviour is an essential virtue for a fleet car. A series of return trips to London has nudged the total mileage over 10,000 and the 2.2-litre diesel is humming effortlessly.

The car is in its element on motorways where you want the miles to pass as quickly as the law allows, sitting comfortably and arriving without a nagging pain in the small of the back.

All this is achieved with ease by the Vectra, which has pleasing though uninspiring looks and is vastly superior to the original (too much like the old Cavalier it was based on to thrill fleet user-choosers).

This is the sixth review we have carried on the Vectra that became a Fleet News long-termer on a bleak day last November. Six months on, the heated front seats (an optional extra) are still occasionally used: it has been a shivering spring at times.

Effective air conditioning will keep occupants comfortable on the warmer days ahead.

The Vauxhall's Germanic heritage (as an Opel rebadged for Britain) shines through with the look and feel of the interior. The seats are supportive and covered in hard-wearing fabric and the instrument panel is clean-cut and easily read.

Other testers have understandably moaned about the indicator stalk (soft/hard movements for lane shifts/ junction turns) but the windscreen wiper operation is better (nudge once, twice, thrice for intermittent, medium and fast).

You would choose the Vectra for its large boot but not for its legroom behind the wheel (mentioned earlier by another tall tester). Cabin oddment space is mixed, with a useful compartment between the front seats but there is little storage room in the doors.

Its biggest failing is the engine, because Vauxhall can't yet match the common rail or unit injector diesels of some of its main rivals, including Ford and Volkswagen. The 2.2 Vectra maintains motorway outside lane speeds and returns 40 to 45mpg, but the benefit-in-kind liability reaches an uncomfortable 24% next April.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer): £65 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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