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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Huge, comfy exec saloon with space for five and room for their luggage

Against Squeaks and rattles can plague the cabin and the overall image is poor

Verdict Far from exciting or fault-free, but it offers cheap, roomy transport for five

Go for… 2.2-litre turbodiesel

Avoid… 2.0-litre petrol

Vauxhall Omega Saloon
  • 1. Axle and suspension problems are all too common
  • 2. Check that, where necessary, the cambelts were changed every 40,000 miles
  • 3. The spacious cabin and fine ride make the Omega a comfortable car
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Vauxhall Omega Saloon full review with expert trade views

In 1994, the Vauxhall Omega was born into a difficult market that has now shrunk - that of the non-premium executive car. At the time, though, the Omega was well thought-out for the sector.

Its biggest attraction is that it's a big car and five adults can sit inside in comfort. The boot is huge, too, and (unlike most of its rivals at the time) the rear seats spilt and fold to increase cargo space further.

There's nothing much wrong with the driving position, either, although the cabin trim feels cheap in places and there are an awful lot of buttons to familiarise yourself with.

Once you get out on the road, everyone should be comfortable, thanks to the compliant suspension fitted to most models. The only exception is the sporting MV6 version, which gives a firmer ride.

The driver should enjoy it, too. The Omega is rear-wheel-drive and its handling, although not in the BMW/Audi bracket, is perfectly acceptable, with reasonably weighted steering and moderate levels of body-roll.

Finally, equipment levels are fairly good, as are safety features considering the car's age.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Still a great used buy. Estates offer excellent value and hold their money best

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

When the Omega arrived in April 1994, the entry-level 134bhp, 2.0-litre Select petrol came with anti-lock brakes, twin airbags, power-steering and electric windows.

Three other trim levels - GLS, CD and CDX - were also offered, but only the CDX came with air-con. However, there's a lot of glass in the Omega and ventilation is poor, so without it you'll swelter. Whatever model you're looking at, make sure you find one with air-con fitted, even as an option.

Alternatively, go for a model from after the range's face-lift in 1999 when alloy wheels, a CD-player and air-con became standard. At the same time, the new, more powerful 2.2-litre petrol engine replaced the old 2.0-litre unit.

Other petrol engines include the 2.6-litre V6, which is good, while the 3.2 V6 is fastest of all and handles nicely in MV6 guise.

However, our favourite models come with a diesel engine, although not the 2.5-litre six-cylinder diesel engine in early models, which was dropped in 1998. Avoid the weedy 90bhp 2.0-litre, too, and instead go for the much stronger 120bhp 2.2-litre, ideally in CD trim.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Values in freefall especially for V6, but 2.2DTi CD east to retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Buyers might burn with desire to park an Audi A6 or a BMW 5 Series on their driveway, but not a Vauxhall Omega. Still, at least that means low prices and an advantage for those who just see their car as an A-to-B tool and not a 'lifestyle' extension. Insurance costs are OK for the lower models - the least powerful diesel requires no more than Group 12 coverage and most of the range sits in Group 13 or Group 14. However, the V6 models are much dearer, in Group 16 and Group 17.

As you might expect, these are also the most expensive to fuel, but economy isn't great on any models, because the Omega is a heavy car. An official 36mpg is a pretty poor show for the 2.5-litre diesel, although the four-cylinder engines are better, with a claimed 40mpg.

Major service intervals are set at a lengthy 20,000 miles, which should help to keep costs down. However, the diesel engines should have their oil changed every 5000 miles, which does precisely the opposite.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Still a great used buy. Estates offer excellent value and hold their money best

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Visit the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency website at www.vosa.gov.uk and you'll see that the Omega has had just two official recalls, one concerning faulty airbags and the other dealing with chafed fuel lines.

However, don't think that just two recalls on a car that was in production for nine years means it was a reliable motor, because that's certainly not the case.

Axle and suspension problems are all too common, so if you're in doubt, take along someone who knows what they are looking for when you check over any potential buy. Electrical components are easier to check, but just as crucial, as they can give major and expensive headaches. So too can faulty interior trim.

The engines are also far from immune to problems. Cambelts on most models were originally scheduled to be changed at 80,000 miles, but this distance was later halved, suggesting problems could lurk with belts that have done more than 40,000.

In general, reliability and customer satisfaction surveys make for woeful reading. An Omega that's cheap to buy today could prove expensive to repair tomorrow.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Values in freefall especially for V6, but 2.2DTi CD east to retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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