Resembling a stretched Astra, with much harder edged styling than the current car, the newcomer is significantly larger than its predecessor and will form the basis for a whole 'family' of derivatives in varying bodystyles.
It enters an intensely competitive market segment, where the new Ford Mondeo, recently revamped Volkswagen Passat and all-new Renault Laguna are all well established in the corporate market. It will hit the showrooms next Summer after making its world debut at the Geneva Show in Spring.
Available initially as a saloon and hatchback, with petrol and diesel power units from the existing Vectra range, the new model is significantly bigger than its predecessor. It has a 60mm longer wheelbase, 50mm wider track on average and 36mm higher roofline, which should address widespread criticism of the existing model's cramped interior.
But this is just the first element of a far more ambitious project designed to attract sales from increasingly diverse and individualistic customers who want to choose from a range of vehicles which more closely reflects their lifestyle.
The conventional saloon/hatch Vectra derivatives will, within two years, be joined by other bodystyles based on the same platform. These derivatives are believed to include a people carrier and a premium model not far removed from the Signum II concept car (pictured below) revealed at the Frankfurt Show.
##Signum--left##The front-wheel drive executive can turn from a family car to a two-seater at the push of a button, creating a huge load area and a stowage area under the seats.
GM needs a vehicle to replace the ageing Omega when it bows out in a couple of years and, at the show, company chiefs said the Signum II all-in-one estate and coupe concept hints at the ideas and styling cues that will be seen on future Vauxhall models.
Vauxhall denied speculation that Signum II was also 'the new Vectra' but, a spokesman said Signum II was 'an evolution of what Vectra will be'.
Equipment and specification
The Signum show car featured an on-board cinema, office and espresso bar and the new Vectra is also heavily laden on the gadget front.
Vauxhall is particularly excited about a new chassis design called IDS (Interactive Driving System). IDS combines electro-hydraulic systems and new lightweight suspension and steering components to improve ride and enhance the driving experience – another area of the existing model which was widely criticised by fleet customers.
There's also ESP Plus - a new electronic stability package - and for the first time, a five speed automatic transmission with manual shift function. Other technical highlights include intelligent climate control, rain sensitive windscreen wipers and a parking pilot. Front, side and full-size curtain airbags will feature on a long list of safety equipment.
##New Vectra--right##The new Vectra will also be fitted with the electronic infrastructure to support integrated communications and some of the sophisticated online services which GM is planning to roll out in the UK over the next few years.
Full production starts next April and the hatchback version pictured here will be built in the UK at Vauxhall's refurbished Ellesmere Port plant, and at GM's Russelsheim plant in Germany, which will also build the four-door saloon.
- See next week's Fleet News for more details and fleet industry feedback.
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