Car Test   R0270
September 2002
  Vauxhall Vectra
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.8LS 4-door
For a long time the Vectra has had to play second fiddle to the Mondeo, so for the modelís latest incarnation, Vauxhall/Opel has put a big effort into producing a contender seriously to challenge the blue ovalís blue-eyed boy, as well as the likes of Laguna, Passat and Primera.
   The new body is bigger in all directions than its predecessorís (though still shorter than the Mondeo), yet surprisingly, legroom front and rear is no better. Nothing to worry Ford there, then. That said, rear legroom is ample. In fact, itís not cramped in the back, but neither is it exactly cosy Ė the seat is too firm and upright for that. Pity it doesnít recline.
   Up front, the seats are equally unyielding. However, even in this Ďbaseí LS model itís unlikely that you wonít get comfortable behind the fully adjustable wheel, so numerous are the driving position permutations. Remove the (non-recessable) rear head restraints and all-round vision is very good, with manoeuvring aided by optional parking sensors front and rear; with these fitted (for an extra £375) we would give the Vectra four stars in our space and practicality table.
   We think the 1.8 LS shows the new Vectra in its most competitive guise. The list of features is impressive for a roomy hatchback costing well under £15,000 Ė many of which are expensive options on ostensibly similarly priced rivals.
   Six familiar engines are offered, with this 1.8 starting the ball rolling with 122bhp. Although vocal when revved hard, itís a generally smooth and refined unit, particularly at motorway speeds, where the Mondeo is too obtrusive. The Vectraís long-striding upper two ratios contribute to this and also aid fuel economy. The downside is that a downchange (or two) can be called for to keep up the pace; the mediocre shift quality is apparent at such times.
   The electro-hydraulic steering is nicely weighted (albeit with little feel), but it lacks the precision that its sportier sibling, the SRi, possesses. Furthermore, the new modelís road manners still fall short of the high standards set by Mondeo. Bridgestone tyres may contribute to an abrupt 'over-inflatedí feel over sharp-edged road faults, but on a cross-country route where bends and bumps abound, the new Vectra simply feels an improvement over the old one Ė which is good, but not good enough.
   The big boot is a sensible boxy shape whose length can be extended by lowering the 60/40 divided rear backrests without having to remove the three rear head restraints. The seatbacks donít lie completely flat, though. Thereís a ski-flap, too, and for even longer loads (carpet, for example), the front passengerís backrest folds flat.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel economy
  • dual front seat cushion-height adjusters
  • audio and satnav controls on steering wheel
  • height adjustable rear seatbelts
  • good heat/air con supply to rear
  • driver's door mirror image deceptive
  • rear headrests don't lower flush with seatback
  • 'space-saver' temporary-use spare wheel
  • door sills could do with better protection
  • cheap number plate fixings
You may be tempted by the allure of Elegance and Elite trim levels, but the fact is that this 1.8 LS is the value-for-money version of a model thatís noticeable better than its predecessor. Itís a good effort, but commendable though the Vectra is in a lot of ways, the Mondeoís superior space and exemplary road manners mean that the Ford remains the complete upper-medium family car to beat.

engine 1796cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 122bhp at 6000rpm,
123 lb ft at 3800rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 16 valves
  transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 24.4mph/1000rpm in 5th, 19.5 in 4th
suspension front: independent coil spring/damper struts, anti-roll bar
rear: independent multi-link with coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
  steering electro-hydraulic power assistance; 2.9 turns lock-to-lock; 10.9m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.6m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, with anti-lock (ABS), cornering brake control (CBC), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA)   wheels/tyres 6.5in steel with 215/55R16V tyres (Bridgestone Turanza ER30 on test car); temporary-use spare

size and type upper-medium (mid-priced) saloon, hatchback; estate car later   trim levels LS, Club, SXi, Elegance, Elite, SRi, GSi
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.8 litre/122bhp, 4/2.2/147, V6/3.2/211
diesel: 4/2.0/100, 4/2.2/125
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual, 5-speed stepped automatic with torque converter optional on 2.2 petrol and diesel 3.2V6; continuously variable automatic (CVTronic) on 1.8 from January 2003)

HOW THE VECTRA 1.8LS COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 LS 4/1796/122 2870 11.3 23.3/34.7 36/184 10/25.5 110 100/76 2.9/10.9 460
Citroen C5 1.8 4/1749/117 3210 10.9 20.9/26.9 37.5/182 22/26.5 108 99/77 3.2/10.6 462
Daewoo Leganza 2.0 4/1998/132 3240 9.4 16.1/22.6 30/215 40/26 109 102/78 3.2/11.4 467
Ford Mondeo 1.8 LX 4/1798/125 3170 9.8 18.9/27.4 36.5/185 19/25 111 108/84 2.8/11.3 473
Renault Laguna 1.8 4/1783/123 3370 11.2 26.1/19.0 37/180 25/12 110 97/71 3.2/10.9 458
VW Passat 1.8 T 4/1781/150 3060 8.4 20.8/15.0 34/199 26/14 110 101/74 2.8/11.0 470

Plenty of wheel/seat adjustments. Most major controls fine, but handbrake below armrest not ideal and indicator stalk gimmicky. Style triumphs over ergonomics - centre console and door panel suffer from push-button overload. Gloomy instrument panel, small distorting mirrors and some warning lights minute.
Noticeably improved over old model, but lacks the ultimate handling prowess of Mondeo and Alfa 156. Electro-hydraulic steering nicely weighted, but isn't as precise as we would like and lacks feedback. Brakes over-servoed, but loaded with anti-skid features: ABS, EBD, EBA, CBC.
Ride on rutted roads can feel firm; more compliant on smoother surfaces, but never quite top-drawer quality. Seats somewhat unyielding, as well. Hushed cabin, thanks to the quiet-cruising engine. Quiet suspension, too, and tyre noise not excessive. Air conditioning standard.

Acceleration brisk in the lower ratios, but lacklustre in higher, long-legged gears, which nevertheless give relaxed motorway progress. Flexible engine but performance can flag on up-gradients when a gearchange is needed to maintain momentum; pity the shift is a bit clumpy.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.5 7.5 12.7 18.9
  30-50mph 4.5 7.1 11.6 17.1
  40-60mph 5.0 7.1 11.3 16.7
  50-70mph 6.8 7.4 11.7 17.6
  30-70mph 11.3 14.5 23.3 34.7
  max speed in each gear (+ using 6250rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st+      2nd+      3rd+      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      31      59      88      124      122 (5000rpm)

Average overall result, but aided by that high gearing, impressive motorway economy of about 38mpg and almost 47mpg when driving gently. Trip computer optional on LS. Easy-filling tank with a good range. Built in electronic service interral monitor. Group 7E insuance rating.
    AA test results (mpg)  
    worst (hard/urban) 21  
    best (gentle/rural) 47  
    overall mpg 36  
    realistic tank capacity 54litres  
    realistic tank range 430miles  
    official figures (mpg)
    urban 26.2
    extra urban 47.9
    combined 36.7
    CO2 emissions 184g/km
    car tax band D

No expense spared! Primary and secondary safety carefully considered. Features include front, side and curtain airbags, active head restraints, crash-activated pedal-release system. Options include front and rear parking sensors (highly recommended) and tyre pressure monitoring.
  from 50mph (with standard brake assist/ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 8kg     29.5m
sudden 10kg     25.5m best stop
+4kg ie 14kg     26m ABS on
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Tall and short drivers well catered for. Rear space not in (longer) Mondeo class, but a good class average, none the less. Prominent door sills and a rear centre hump. There's an 18cm rear sill to negotiate, but easy back seat folding (with head restraints in situ) usefully extends load area.
  in centimetres (4-door saloon)
  length 460
  width - including mirrors 204
    - mirrors folded 183
  height 146
  load sill height (inside/outside) 18/69
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.9
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-110
    - headroom 94-102s
  rear - typical legroom 100
    - typical kneeroom 76
    - headroom 92
    - hiproom 134
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 94-184
  load length to facia 266
  load width 103-124
  load height (to shelf) 50
s no sunroof

An excellent tally of features (as listed) even on LS, but you pay extra for load restraining floor net. Glovebox and rear seat backrests lockable, but self-locking boot lid is a mixed blessing - electronic release on driver's door. Two-stage door unlocking (driver's first, then others), 'see-me-home' headlights.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
lockable rear backrests   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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