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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For Huge loadbay, cheap enough to buy and run

Against Smaller engines struggle; Ford Mondeo's a better drive

Verdict Practical, cheap and tough. Makes more sense than many MPVs

Go for… 1.9 CDTi 120 Design

Avoid… 2.8 V6 Elite

Vauxhall Vectra Estate
  • 1. If the 2.2 diesel misses regular oil checks/top-ups, it can run dry and seize
  • 2. The 2.2 petrol can snap its timing chains
  • 3. The clutch return spring has been known to stretch and cause premature wear or failure
  • 4. Cabin and loadbay are huge, with plenty of room for a family of five and their luggage
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Vauxhall Vectra Estate full review with expert trade views

The previous Vectra estate was poorly thought out and not that roomy, but this one couldn’t be more different: its cabin and loadbay are huge, and there’s plenty of room for a family of five and their luggage. The rear seats drop down to free up 1850-litres of space.

For the driver, comfort and visibility could scarcely be better, but a few controls are awkward and some owners find the one-touch indicators annoying.

The Vectra is also a fine car to drive, as long as you avoid the sporty models that ride too stiffly. Mainstream versions are more comfortable, but still steer and grip well, while the car's real strength is its refinement: there's no wind noise in the cabin, even at motorway speeds, and the engines remain quiet unless they're worked hard.

Euro NCAP awarded the Vectra four stars out of five for occupant safety (good but not class-leading), but it's let down by a one-star rating for pedestrian protection.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Spacious cabin and boot. Great cruiser. Beginning to age in looks

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Four petrol engines, three diesels and no fewer than six trim levels bring almost too much choice. We’d make it simpler by ignoring the smallest petrol motor, the 1.8 (too weak) and the biggest, the 3.2 (too costly to run).

As for the other petrols, the 2.2 gets our vote because it suits the car, giving the best trade-off between power and economy. But, the 2.0 turbo is quicker and still a good choice.

Overall, though, a diesel engine is a far more sensible choice. They're available as a 1.9 (with 8v or 16v), a 2.0, a 2.2 and a 3.0, but the pick of the bunch is the least powerful 1.9 because it promises an easy 40mpg but still pulls well. We’d forget the 3.0 because its economy is no better than a 2.2 petrol’s. Even base models get a full set of airbags, anti-lock brakes, electric windows and air-con. The Exclusiv ('05 onwards) is a safe bet, but you could dig out a car with Club trim (two steps up from the most basic), because it adds alloy wheels, an excellent stereo and other luxuries.

Trade view

John Owen

Good competitor for the Mondeo. Good load space, plenty of models/engines to choose from

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

From new, the Vectra suffered savage depreciation, but because it’s been off sale since early 2009 that shouldn’t prove a concern.

On the whole, there's little here to worry you, because daily running costs are affordable. The 1.8s fall into insurance group 7, most others sit in groups 10 to 12 and only the 3.2 takes you as high as group 15.

Servicing is cheap and simple, too, and even more so if you go to an independent garage rather than a main franchise. An on-board computer tells you when work is due, so driving sensibly can keep your bills down even further.

Finally, for a big car, the Vectra's fuel economy is good. The 1.9 diesels achieve over 47mpg, while the 1.8 petrol manages the low 30s. The 2.2 does slightly better because it doesn’t have to work so hard, but, as you’d expect, the 2.0 turbo and V6s are far less economical.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Spacious cabin and boot. Great cruiser. Beginning to age in looks

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The Vectras has earned a reasonable reputation for reliability, although according to the What Car? Reliability index, they have slipped in recent years and, overall, Vauxhall rates below average.

The 2.2 diesel needs regular oil checks/top-ups, otherwise it could run dry and seize. The injector system on that engine is vulnerable to leaks and symptoms include poor starting.

There have been some reports that the 2.2 petrol can snap its timing chains early on, caused by blockages from dirty oil. Groans that seem to come from the front suspension are often traced to faulty radiator mountings.

The clutch return spring has been known to stretch and cause premature wear/failure - dealers will fit a stronger one. Finally, be warned that the service indicator might show a service is needed well before it’s due (Vauxhall dealers can spot this and correct if needed).

Trade view

John Owen

Good competitor for the Mondeo. Good load space, plenty of models/engines to choose from

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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