20 March 1998

VECTRA SQUEEZES MORE POWER

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MORE and more car makers it seems, are applying petrol engine technology to their range of oil-burners.

Higher injection pressures, electronic controls, more valves and more horsepower all combine to offer petrol-like performance with diesel frugality – albeit at a premium price.

Audi, VW and Rover are among the elite few offering a high performance diesel engine. Now add Vauxhall to the list.

Joining the Vectras bog-standard 2-litre turbodiesel engine comes a sprightly new 2-litre, 16-valve high pressure turbodiesel.

Externally, only those with an eye for manufacturers badging will tell the high pressure turbo motor from the standard Di badged version, simply by the addition of a T.

But under the bonnet, the Vectra has an intercooler and stronger wastegate on its turbo to raise boost levels up to a useful 0.95 bar (13.5psi).

And the bigger mouthful of fresh air now served up is enough to give the Vectra performance to match its 2-litre 16v petrol-powered stable-mate in the 30-50mph dash.

The Vectras pokiest diesel now musters 100hp at 4300rpm and 151 lbs.ft of torque between 1600 and 2750rpm – enough to push the Vectra from standstill to 60mph in 13sec and on to an eventual 121mph top speed.

And its frugal too. A performance-matching petrol engine could not keep up with this car if 40+mpg is to be maintained.

Against its Mondeo, Nissan Primera and Peugeot 406 competitors in the diesel fleet market, the Vectra TDi affords good performance – though its more cramped than the Ford and Peugeot rivals.

But such diesel performance does not come cheap. The bells and whistles CDX specification farmers weekly had on test was difficult to justify at £21,000 – even the TDi base model costs £16,350.

The verdict: High spec CDX trim made this an over-priced car at £21,000, but the new engine is more than willing and is capable of good fuel consumption. Unless youve got bundles of spare cash, opt for a lower spec.

Vauxhall Vectra TDi enjoys a useful power and performance boost. CDX trim version pricey though.

VECTRA DATA

&#8226 Model: Vectra CDX TDi.

&#8226 List price: £21,000.

&#8226 Engine: 100hp, 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel.

&#8226 Top speed: 121mph.

&#8226 0-62mph: 13sec.

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 40.5mpg.

&#8226 Insurance group: 7.