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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For Refinement and comfort make it a great motorway tool. Clever seating layout

Against Fidgety body control over bumpy roads. Not as good quality as some rivals

Verdict A lot of car for the money - predictable and competent, but lacklustre

Go for… 1.9 CDTi (120 or 150bhp) Exclusiv

Avoid… The 2.8-litre V6 petrol is very thirsty and not as punchy as you'd expect

Vauxhall Signum Hatchback
  • 1. Soft suspension is great on the motorway, but gives too much body roll on twisty roads
  • 2. Clever FlexSpace system enables the seats to be folded down individually or together
  • 3. All the Signum's engines are proven and reliable
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Vauxhall Signum Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Signum is a fabulous motorway cruiser, thanks to its soft suspension and flexible, economical engines. However, that same soft set-up means it can struggle on twistier roads - there's plenty of body roll, especially at speed. And, although the Signum's light steering aids parking manoeuvres, it provides little in the way of feedback.

At least the steering wheel adjusts for both height and reach, and the seats are very supportive. As a result, it's easy to make yourself comfortable, especially as the controls are well laid out and easy to use.

However, there's no sort of image inside. The Signum's dash is based on the Vectra's, which means it looks too ordinary and downmarket next to the Signum's executive rivals.

It's also effectively no more than a four-seater, but the real trick is its clever FlexSpace system. This enables the rear seats to be folded down individually or together, and the two outer seats also slide back and forth, so you can choose between extra legroom or boot space. And, when you want maximum boot capacity, it's very impressive.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Quite a few example on the used market. Good value after initial depreciation

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

The Signum was launched in 2003 with four petrol engines - a 1.8, a 2.2, a turbocharged 2.0-litre and a 3.2-litre V6 - and two diesels (2.0- or 2.2-litre).

A year later, the two diesel engines were replaced by a 1.9-litre common rail unit with either 120bhp or 150bhp, and a 3.0-litre CDTi V6 diesel was introduced.

A face-lift in 2005 included new headlamps, interior and revised chassis. The 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine was replaced by an all-new 2.8 V6 and colour satellite-navigation was added to every model.

But, if all that is starting to get just a little bit confusing, let us cut your shopping list down: your best bet is the nippy, economical 150bhp 1.9-litre CDTi diesel.

And buy it in entry-level Exclusiv trim, with its 18-inch alloy wheels, satellite-navigation with colour screen, air-con, front foglights and cruise control, which should be enough for most.

Like every model, it also has an impressive standard safety equipment list that includes driver, passenger and side airbags, as well as curtain airbags that run the length of the cabin, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Low demand so suitably low prices especially petrols with Elite spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

One of the main criticisms of the Signum when it was launched was its list price. They are more expensive than the Vectra and the 3.0-litre diesel costs almost £25,000. Not many people wanted to spend this much money on a Vauxhall.

However, as a used purchase, the tables turn. The Signum depreciates astronomically from new, so it has become a cheap and good-value second-hand purchase.

Depending on which model you go for, running costs should be reasonable, too. The diesels all have decent fuel economy and low emissions, particularly the direct-injection models. Our pick of the bunch, the 150bhp 1.9-litre CDTi, returns 47.1mpg.

Insurance costs are reasonable, too - even the 3.0-litre diesel sits in group 12. Compare that with group 15 for the BMW 520d, for example.

If it goes wrong, it shouldn't cost a bomb to fix. Vauxhall parts are generally cheap and servicing costs are average.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Quite a few example on the used market. Good value after initial depreciation

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

There aren't many Signums on the second-hand market, mainly because it was never a great seller from new. The majority of those out there are high-milers, but all the Signum's engines are proven and we've had no reports of reliability problems. There are no particularly weak areas, either mechanically or cosmetically.

The Signum's cabin, despite looking downmarket, is actually very solidly built, with well damped controls and sturdy materials. Even high-mileage examples have interiors that have stood up to the test of time.

The main problem concerning the Signum isn't the car, but Vauxhall dealers. We have received many reports of poor service.

Vauxhall parts are usually cheap and readily available, but dealers seem to prioritise other models over the Signum and the main problem is getting parts. Service departments don't keep many spares for the Signum, which means a long wait and often a second visit to have the parts fitted if anything goes wrong.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Low demand so suitably low prices especially petrols with Elite spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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