21 March 1997


In this months

Country Car

Andrew Faulkner ventures out in the Vauxhall Vectra while David Cousins squeezes into Suzukis Baleno. Andrew Pearce

gives tips on servicing Subarus perennial pickup, the MV, and takes to the hills in the Trooper Commercial

EVER been embarrassed by the antics of an elderly relative, well past his or her sell-by-date?

Sound familiar? Then spare a thought for the Vauxhall Vectra estate. Its most immediate ancestor, the stretched version of the Cavalier, can still be seen tottering along the nations highways – a sight that must be a source of constant chagrin to the recently launched and thoroughly modern Vectra.

Yet these two Vauxhalls are poles apart, their obvious differences reflecting the wide generation gap. Where the Cavalier station wagon had corners, the Vectra estate has curves; where the Cavalier came with few options, the Vectra buyer gets a choice of four engines – three petrol and one diesel – and a host of trim levels; and where the Cavalier was a rather dowdy relation to the ubiquitous saloon, the stretched Vectra has just as much style as its hatch sibling.

So, it looks better and theres more spec combinations to choose from. But how does the Vectra estate drive? FARMERS WEEKLY borrowed the 2-litre turbodiesel, in mid-priced GLS trim, to find out.

Up front, the diesel motor is an all-new set-up, with innovative multi-valve technology claimed to give more complete combustion. Combine this with inherently more frugal direct injection fuelling, and the result is impressive: 45mpg+ over 500 tough test miles.

As for performance, the 2-litre is also no slouch: Torque stretches down to a maximum 136lb ft at 1800rpm for a long pull, and maximum speed tops out at 105mph. The 0-60mph time of 16sec is rather less flattering and reflects the motors modest 82hp rating.

Inside, the cabin is familiar Vectra fare back to the "C" posts. While, from there on back, Vauxhall designers have done a good job of making best use of available space – flattish tailgate, minimal wheel arch intrusion, and some natty hidy-holes under the level load floor. Only niggle is the concertina-type load cover, which can be awkward to operate.

Verdict: For all its qualities, the Vectras ultimate success in todays highly competitive, mid-range estate car sector is far from guaranteed. Its up against some stiff

opposition – namely Fords proven Mondeo, the voluminous Renault Laguna and the eagerly awaited

Peugeot 406 estate. An

intriguing battle lies ahead.

Theyre all at it. With the launch of the Vectra estate, Vauxhall joins the ranks of those to offer stretched versions of their latest mid-sized model.


&#8226 Model: Vectra estate2.0 Di GLS.

&#8226 Price: £18,150.

&#8226 Engine 2-litre, 82hp turbodiesel.

&#8226 Top speed: 105mph.

&#8226 0-60mph: 16secs.

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 45.1mpg.

&#8226 Insurance group: 8E.