What's the used Vauxhall Vectra hatchback like?
The Vectra is built for covering distance comfortably, not sheer thrils, so you're buying into a car that thrives on strong mid-range shove rather than high-revs.
Even so, the economical 1.8-litre petrol can feel a little slow to pick up speed at times, although the other engines in the range are ready, willing and able.
Overall, the Vectra is well suited to easy-going, everyday driving, particularly on the motorway. It's a company car favourite, after all, and will plough on all day long at the national limit without disturbing the hush in the cabin.
The suspension will also shake off lumps and bumps competently, and its handling marks a real improvement on the older Vectra's. However, again it's competent rather than class-leading, and the electronic steering on some cars is short of feedback.
Still, the cabin is well laid out, roomy (fitting five adults is no problem) and shows some Audi-like quality. The driving position is excellent and the boot is a match for the Mondeo's.
What used Vauxhall Vectra hatchback will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Vectra hatchback?
The only killer will be depreciation. New Vectras are sold in huge numbers at discounted prices to businesses and rental firms, and they've all got to be resold somewhere. Trouble is, used supply exceeds demand.
That's great news if you're buying a two- or three-year-old example - plenty of choice, competitive prices - but it's not so great if you're trying to flog a three-year-old Vectra after paying too much for it as a nearly new car.
That's not to say you shouldn't buy a nearly new car. Just make sure you factor likely resale prices into the equation before you sign up.
Happily, there's precious little else to worry about, so long as you steer clear of (or don't mind) V6 models, which are far thirstier and more expensive to service.
The diesels will give an official average of 50mpg (the V6 diesel about 10 less) and the petrols high 30s. The LPG 1.8s are stiff on insurance; otherwise, premiums are, like service costs, decent enough.
Which used Vauxhall Vectra hatchback should I buy?
If your cash will stretch to it, go for a mid-to-late 2005 car, because a face-lift that year brought worthwhile improvements to the way it rides and handles, as well as some spec upgrades.
Whichever age you choose, the 120bhp and 149bhp 1.9 diesels are gutsy performers. Don't aspire to the 3.0 V6 diesel instead, though - it's quicker, but not by enough to justify the extra thirst.
The petrol line-up includes a 1.8 (the best overall balance of performance and cost), 2.0 turbo (keen driver's choice), 2.2 (motorway muncher), 2.8, 3.0 and 3.2 V6s (effortless go) and VXR 2.8 V6 turbo (whoooosh).
Go for Design, Elite or (sporting) SRi trim if you have the cash. Safety kit is top-notch on all models, but some omissions (no rear electric windows) on lower-specification cars can surprise and irritate. Vauxhall's approved used Network Q programme has loads of cars and top after-sales back-up - or try the supermarkets, which are well stocked, too.