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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Easy-going, unpretentious car at low prices. Well equipped and roomy

Against Poorer handling, ride and refinement than its contemporary rivals

Verdict Average in many areas. Not even that good in far too many more

Go for… The 2.2-litre 16-valve petrol

Avoid… The 2.0 Di

Vauxhall Vectra Estate
  • 1. The diesels can suffer from misfires, often caused by an electronic glitch
  • 2. The 2.2-litre petrol's timing chain may snap
  • 3. Front seats are roomy and comfortable
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Vauxhall Vectra Estate full review with expert trade views

The Vectra estate was never the most polished drive when it was new and the passing years haven't been kind to it. Not that it's bad - don't get us wrong - just that it's too mediocre too often.

The suspension can cope with smaller bumps, but you'll notice larger potholes because they show up the car's underlying lack of composure. There's no great fun to be had in corners, either. A shortage of grip, dull steering and a general, unsatisfying wallowing see to that.

To make matters worse, the steering wheel adjusts for height only, which will compromise the driving position for some. Still, despite the interior's bland appearance, it has a sensible layout.

More worryingly, the Vectra isn't the most practical car, as the load bay isn't as well proportioned as a Ford Mondeo or Peugeot 406 estate's and passengers in the back may find leg- and headroom at a premium. At least those in the front won't complain.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Cheap to buy and run. Seats can be uncomfortable. Load space okay

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The great thing about the Vectra is that there are loads about, and independent traders and classifieds have a huge choice. But, a face-lift in March 1999 brought significant improvements to the Vectra, so stick to cars made from then onwards.

These all have remote central locking, deadlocks, front airbags and anti-lock brakes, although the LS adds electric front windows and a sunroof.

GLS and CD trims also come with air-con, alloy wheels and electric heated door mirrors. CDX has climate control and, on 2.5 cars, leather trim.

Specification was improved further in September 2000 but, irrespective of its vintage, a GLS or CD offers good value. SRi is the sports trim, and 2.5 V6 GSi cars are plush and more powerful (192bhp).

Steer clear of the 1.8-litre petrols and the 2.0 Di, especially if you regularly carry heavy loads or tow. The 2.0 DTi isn't refined, but the 2.2 DTi is a decent diesel.

The 2.0-litre is acceptable, but the later 2.2 is better. The V6s (2.5 or, later, 2.6) are strong performers and recommended if you don't mind the fuel bill.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Electrical problems have resulted in average overall reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Costs - or the lack of them - are one of the most compelling reasons for choosing the Vectra estate as a practical, everyday workhorse. You can bag one for less than the cost of its main rival, the Ford Mondeo - although you should remember that the Mondeo is in a different league for driving pleasure, refinement and design.

Once you've got your Vectra, running costs will be reasonable and service costs on all models are very acceptable. The cheapest of all to run is likely to be the 2.0Di, which returns an official average of 46.3mpg and sits in insurance group 8.

The 2.0 DTi (group 9) gives 45.3mpg and the 2.2 DTi (group 11) 43.5mpg. The four-cylinder petrols drop to the low 30s, with our preferred model, the 2.2 (group 13), managing 32.8mpg.

The V6s are thirstier, although not overly so - 29.7mpg for the 2.5 GSi (group 16) and 28.0mpg for the SRi (group 15) - but the performance on offer could prove a severe test of your self-control (and your licence), while living in the wrong place could bump your insurance premium to an uncomfortable level.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Cheap to buy and run. Seats can be uncomfortable. Load space okay

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The diesels can suffer from misfires, often caused by an electronic glitch, and the 2.2-litre turbodiesel can drink a fair bit of oil.

So, inspect the dipstick level, check for any signs that the oil has been allowed to run low and avoid any cars without a full service history. The 2.2-litre petrol isn't problem-free, either - the timing chain may snap.

The vast majority are trouble-free, provided they haven't been heavily abused. Apart from a good service record, look for a clean, undamaged loadbay and cabin (signs of a careful owner), and tidy bodywork.

Check the electrical kit works properly, and ensure the car tracks straight and there are no noises from the suspension or wheel bearings. Claims made to Warranty Direct suggest these areas can give trouble, but, again, the figures confirm the basic durability of the Vectra.

Our latest Reliability Survey placed the 1999-2002 Vectra (including saloon and hatch) a respectable 33rd out of 100.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Electrical problems have resulted in average overall reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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