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  1. #1
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    14th December 2005

    Default What the Press said about the Vectra VXR
    By: Paul Horrell
    Date: December 6th, 2005
    I need your co-operation for a little audience participation. Every time you hear a moan from me, some characteristic of the Vectra VXR that's less than perfect, I want you all to shout back at me, in an oh-yes-it-will Punch-and-Judy style: 'But it's only £24,000.'
    Here's a Vectra pouring no less than 255bhp of turbocharged V6 surge through the front wheels.
    Front wheels? Yes, although some relatives of the Vectra have been engineered for 4WD, here it's just the fronts, and there's no chance of matching the traction of an Audi A4 quattro or Jag X-type V6 AWD. 'But it's only £24,000.'
    Start up and the brand-new V6 burbles deeply through its fat trapezoid tailpipe mouths, then feeds fat torque all around the revcounter. It's a terrific delivery, almost like a big V8. You just swoosh along with easy speed, enjoying its melody.
    A 161mph Vectra, eh? You get a six-speed gearbox too, but the shift is a bit rubbery and occasionally sticky. They could have spent money on a sweeter linkage. 'But it's only £24,000.'
    Vectras always were refined cruisers, and this one is quiet enough too, but the electronic dampers get all confused on a motorway and shake up the ride.
    It's like driving on giant corduroy. And the big brake discs, though they're effective in a panic, have a horrid soggy initial action. 'But it's only £24,000.'
    The handling is well sorted. There's surprising traction if you're not a complete right-foot mutt, and plenty of grip. The suspension seems comparatively better on rough roads than smooth, using its travel well to keep the car on an even keel on pesky backroads.
    You get all the electronic stability aids, but switch off and you find it's fun on the limit. However, the steering is a bit short of finesse - it has an odd weighting and feels muffled around the straightahead. 'But it's only £24,000.'
    The VXR's cabin has all the usual go-faster trim (not that it makes any car actually go faster) of ally-look flashes, red stripes and fake carbon.
    It also has brilliant seats and loads of space. And it's well made and hugely well-equipped: air, cruise, six-CD changer, xenons, Recaros. And you can have the colossal estate for just a grand more.
    Look, at the end of the day your friends will laugh 'cos it's only a Vectra. We know that. Most of the buyers will be chief constables. Viewed rationally it's got the performance and space and equipment to leave the default-choice 'sporty saloons' flattened.
    OK, so it lacks absolute finesse. Right, you know the last line by now, don't you?

  2. #2
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 2/11/05
    Date: November 2nd 2005
    By: Matt Prior
    VAUXHALL IS LABELLING VXR as its aggressive, angry brand, just in case any of us were still in any doubt after the extreme VXR220 and a 398bhp Monaro.
    But now the meat of the VXR range is arriving: first the Astra VXR, now the Vectra tested here and next will be the Zafira and Meriva.
    And UK buyers are expected to lap them up. Of the 8000 or so VXRs thatíll be made each year, Vauxhall reckons more than half will be sold in Britain. Most of the rest, sold as Opels under the OPC (Opel Performance Centre) tag, will find homes in Germany and Switzerland.
    In keeping with the hotshoe reputation that Vauxhall is trying to endow the VXR brand with, the Vectra version gets rather a lot of power, courtesy of a 2.8-litre, turbocharged V6 engine. With 252bhp and 262lb ft of torque, this is the most powerful production Vectra ever, good for 0-60mph in 6.5sec and a 161mph top speed.
    Generally the 2792cc V6 is a very good engine; refined and with a broad powerband. At low revs thereís a vocal boom to the exhaust note thatís pleasant at first but could become tiresome in everyday use.
    Further up the rev range, power builds smoothly and progressively. The boom disappears, too, but thereís no obvious V6 howl to replace it. Instead, thereís a softer throb through the mid-range, with a cultured growl as you approach the 5500rpm power peak.
    The engineís response, though not its actual output, can be adjusted by a Sport button on the dashboard. In normal mode, throttle response is fairly linear and adjustable, with barely any lag Ė good for both cruising and fast road driving. But stick it in Sport and, like its Astra VXR stablemate, the Vectraís turbocharged powerplant becomes rather unruly. It delivers dollops of power when you asked for a smidgen, and a gobful when you ask for a dollop, making it difficult to apply power gradually.
    With that kind of engine response delivering hefty power and torque to the front wheels, the Vectra VXRís chassis needs to be good. Yet, unlike the Astra VXR, the Vectra hasnít received any of the UK-specific chassis tuning that endowed its sibling with exceptional agility and poise.
    Instead, all hot European Vectras feature the latest version of Vauxhallís IDS-Plus adaptive dampers. It continually adjusts damper response dependent on road and driving conditions, and also controls the stability and anti-lock braking systems.
    Like the engine, the dampersí response is calibrated differently depending on whether youíve pressed the Sport button on the dashboard. And, like the engine, the dampers are best with IDS-Plus left in normal mode on the closest we could find to a typical British B-road in Palermo.
    On that standard setting the Vectra VXR Ė even running on optional 19-inch alloys with 235/35 tyres Ė rides fairly well. The dampers do a reasonable job of taking the edges off surface imperfections and bumps, while body control remains composed with spirited driving. In Sport mode, ride quality deteriorates without hugely noticeable improvements in body control.
    But in either setting the Vectra is far from perfect. There remains an uncomfortable feeling of being detached from the road surface Ė something cars with adaptive damping often suffer from. Thereís a layer of mush and a slight delay that adversely affects the Vectra VXR. This is especially annoying as itís so outwardly sporting.
    The steering is also guilty here. In overall feel itís actually not unlike the Astra VXRís. Itís fast and accurate enough, but lacks any genuine feel Ė except when the power is gently tugging the wheel one way or the other.
    As you approach the Vectraís (admittedly high) limits, the steering doesnít respond with any signal of impending loss of grip until the front wheels have actually relinquished it. The brakes could be more progressive, although thereís no doubting their power.
    But this is a fast and capable car, and a spacious and refined one at that. Although itís noisier than a standard Vectra itís not a loud car, while the decent ride on the standard suspension setting and exceptional Recaro front seats mean itís a pleasant cruising vehicle.
    It also scores highly for practicality. The extremely supportive front seats donít inhibit rear legroom, while the boot is cavernous at 480 litres.
    As youíd expect for a range-topping Vauxhall, equipment levels are generous and, at £23,995 for the saloon and £24,995 for the estate, the Vectra VXR offers plenty of power per pound.
    For a fast family car the Vectra is sometimes inhibited by its unruly nature. But as a performance car it falls further short of the mark. Because while the Vectra has adopted some of the Astra VXRís annoying characteristics, it has inherited rather too little of the smaller carís magic.
    Quick, reasonably capable but ultimately uninvolving fast car.
    How much?
    Price when new £23,995
    Price as tested £23,995
    How fast?
    0-62mph 6.9 sec
    Max Speed 161 mph
    How thirsty?
    Combined 27.4 mpg
    CO2 emissions 274 g/km
    How big?
    Weight 1390 kg
    Layout V6, 2792 cc
    Max power 227 bhp at 5500 rpm
    Max torque 243 lb ft at 1800 rpm

  3. #3
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 2005
    Date: 2005
    By: Gavin Conway
    The Targa Florio
    Two of the most overused words in marketing-speak have - as we always knew they would - found their way into the Vauxhall script. You really are nowhere today if you can't describe your company's warmer offerings as being imbued with "emotion" and "passion".
    So to launch the latest VXR models, Vauxhall brought us to Sicily and the Targa Florio - which is a very emotional place, with loads of passion in it, too.
    The Targa Florio, for those of you not steeped in motorsport's grand history, was a race held over some of the most challenging switchback roads in a setting of almost oppressive romance and beauty. It started back in 1906 and ran till 1977, when fatalities among drivers and spectators brought the whole, glorious spectacle to a halt.
    The VXR range - passion, emotion, performance, the whole nine yards - was created in order that each Vauxhall model range could benefit from a "halo" model. That is, a high performance version of what might otherwise be viewed as rental-car fodder or the company car you have to put up with until you make 5-Series rank.
    Oiky Tailpipes
    So by the end of next year, the only Vauxhall that won't have a VXR model will be the Tigra (it's not quite the right sort of thing for VXR treatment, apparently). Even the miniscule Meriva will have a fire-breathing VXR derivative, which will probably make it the funniest one of the lot, currently a position occupied by the totally bonkers Zafira VXR - more on that in a later edition of 4Car.
    But first, the Vectra VXR, which can be specified in five-door hatch or estate guise. From the front, you get bad-guy graphics with a deep, deep airdam, foglights and mesh-alike grille. Side on, you get the ground-hugging stance courtesy of a lower ride height and body-coloured sills. But it's when you go round back that things get seriously amusing.
    If I was 12 years old again, this is exactly what I'd do to a Vectra. I'd cut two big chunks out of the bumper to allow for two quite large exhaust pipes. Then I'd make them stick out a bit so that following cars couldn't ever possibly mistake my Vectra for anything other than the snortiest one on offer. Most of the assembled journos took a public line, to whit "Now that's just silly". But - and this is a bit like not admitting to a certain fondness for (some of) Phil Collins efforts - I did take quite a shine to the Vectra's oiky tailpipe treatment.
    Butt-hugging seats
    Inside, you'll be greeted by the most absurdly butt-hugging seats I've ever encountered in a car not FIA-approved. No, really, these bucket seats totally live up to the name. Initially, it feels like you just sat backwards into a large-ish bucket. Once settled, though, they're quite comfortable and the lateral support they offer is just terrific.
    Which is good, because this is the most powerful Vectra ever to smoke a front tyre. The turbocharged V6 pumps out 250bhp at 5,500rpm, and 262lb ft of torque between 1,800 and 4,500rpm. There's a standard-fit six-speed gearbox, which we found a bit vague and too easy to baulk, especially going from third to second gear - which you do an awful lot of on the Targa Florio.
    Initially, this car didn't feel nearly as swift as the numbers would suggest, they being 0-62mph in 6.5secs and a top whack of 161mph.
    Not long into our drive, though, we got a "check engine" light, followed by a "service engine" light, followed by a damper icon with an exclamation mark beside it, followed by a traction control icon that was similarly surprised. Rebooting the engine didn't help, so we went to ask Vauxhall for another Vectra. We got a car they'd been using as a very swift camera-crew taxi for the last couple of weeks over the Targa Florio.
    We were informed that this particular car had been absolutely caned as well as being "yumped" for the cameras. Also, one bright spark had attempted to move off on a hill in third gear, only giving up the game when his view forward became obscured by clutch smoke. And the blackened alloys testified to the fact that the brakes hadn't gotten off lightly, either.
    Covering ground swiftly
    This treatment must be the best way to break a car in, then, because the gear shift was smooth and unbaulked and the engine sweet as a nut. Acceleration in the higher reaches was remarkable, too, particularly beyond 80mph in fourth gear. Torque steer is well controlled, too, but not entirely eliminated. But then, that's a big ask for a 250bhp front-driver.
    The other surprise is just how refined this 2.8-litre V6 is: it sounds quite woofly under part throttle, too.
    The Targa Florio offers some of the most rewarding roads I've ever encountered, the sort that make you want to go a bit faster, a bit longer. But after a good 30-minute workout in the Vectra, I felt that I had merely covered ground swiftly. This car just isn't as involving as you'd like, from the slightly inert steering to the grip-and-push front end dynamics. A Subaru Impreza WRX, for example, would leave you buzzing for hours after such a run.
    At £23,995, this is one expensive Vectra, too. A lot more than the aforementioned Subaru, for example, and more even than prestige numbers like the Audi A4 2.0 Turbo. Sure, it's considerably more powerful than the obvious competitors, but it doesn't do anything terribly inspiring with that power.
    Love those tailpipes, though.

  4. #4
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 1/11/05
    Date: November 2005
    By: Sam Hardy
    It's the fastest Vectra ever! With a 161mph top speed, the only other four-door Vauxhall to have gone quicker than the new Vectra VXR is the legendary Lotus Carlton. But back in 1990, you would have paid a cool £48,000 for the Lotus-tuned car. Happily, the newcomer costs rather less.
    The £23,995 price puts the Vectra VXR into direct competition with the Ford Mondeo ST, Mazda 6 MPS and even Audi's A4 2.0T FSI quattro. Is outright performance going to be enough to lift it to the top of the class?
    Joining high-powered VXR versions of the Monaro and Astra, the Vectra is the latest attempt to add some excitement to the Vauxhall brand. Available in hatchback form now - with estate models arriving in the spring priced at £24,995 - it's certainly much spicier than the regular Vectra. The newcomer adds a deep chin spoiler, with honeycomb mesh air intakes, plus low side skirts and 18-inch alloy wheels to the revised Vectra's lines. It may not be pretty, but it's aggressive!
    Inside, comfortable Recaro sports seats and a three-spoke leather steering wheel enhance an already excellent cabin. But the real fireworks are under the bonnet, where General Motors' new 251bhp 2.8-litre V6 turbo engine takes pride of place. It offers variable valve timing and is mated to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox.
    With peak torque of 355Nm, the car posts some very impressive figures. The sprint from 0-60mph is dispatched in 6.5 seconds, with 50-70mph taking only 7.6 seconds. But what stands out most is the engine's power delivery. On the move, it's both brawny and refined, pulling hard from
    low revs and providing strong thrust up to the red line, all with just enough of a smooth V6 howl. The VXR feels very fast, too - quicker than Audi's 200bhp 2.0T A4 and nearly on a par with the V8-engined S4.
    Engineers have gone to town on the chassis. Along with bigger brakes, the Vectra VXR gets specially tuned electronically controlled dampers, revised steering and a whole host of devices to boost traction and reduce understeer. As with Astra VXRs fitted with IDS+, there's also a dashboard-mounted Sport button, which stiffens the suspension further.
    In normal mode, refinement is good, although the V6 engine's huge power output means the car torque steers under full throttle. This displayed itself on the changeable roads of our test route. Drive more carefully, however, and it's possible to tackle corners at speed. There's lots of grip, minimal body roll and a ride that's firmer than on regular Vectras.
    Yet if you're not careful with the throttle at low speed, the front wheels can spin and the steering fights in your hands. And although the Sport button sharpens the responses, it does little to improve grip levels, and also makes the ride jarring. The whole experience isn't very involving, either - and both the Mondeo ST220 and A4 2.0T FSI are more fun and composed.
    The VXR is also likely to suffer from the same hefty depreciation as the Ford; £24,000 mainstream cars simply can't match the residual strength of, say, an Audi. Still, the VXR's huge performance isn't in doubt. And while it's unlikely to tempt prestige buyers, this pace alone will be enough for many people.

  5. #5
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    14th December 2005

    Date: November 2005
    By: Sam Hardy
    Massive performance and a big boot - it's a formula that has proven popular with plenty of upmarket car manufacturers, most notably Audi and its range of S4 and RS6 Avants. However, now, Vauxhall is bringing power to the people with a load-lugging version of the Vectra VXR.
    We were impressed with the hatchback's storming pace when we drove it in Issue 881 - so is the more practical VXR Estate a better package? Well, it certainly looks aggressive. The tailgate spoiler and jutting lower bumper sharpen the rear, while all the details that make the hatchback stand out - bold bodykit, 18-inch alloy wheels and quad-shaped exhaust pipes - are here.
    The Estate gets the same 251bhp 2.8-litre turbocharged V6, complete with variable valve timing, hooked up to a six-speed gearbox. Despite an extra 135kg and poorer aerodynamics, it posts almost identical benchmark figures to the hatch, with 0-60mph rising only 0.2 seconds to 6.7 seconds.
    More importantly, real-world performance is just as startling, with huge low-down shove and lots of power in reserve for overtaking. Capping it all is a V6 engine that sings at high revs, but stays subdued at all other times. The Estate also gets the same chassis upgrades as the hatchback, with specially tuned electronic dampers, revised steering and a 'sport' button mounted on the dash. It has huge 345mm front disc brakes, too.
    On the move, the Estate's longer wheelbase means the ride is slightly more comfortable (although it's still firm), and the car feels more stable at speed. However, it doesn't turn into corners as quickly. Pressing the sport button makes the ride too stiff, though, and whether off or on, it can't do anything about the torque steer under hard acceleration, or the numb steering. This means the experience can be wild, yet strangely uninvolving.
    But then if you're using the VXR as a proper estate, you won't be tackling twisty roads at high speed all the time. And with 1,850 litres of load space, plus Vauxhall's excellent Flex system of boot partitions, there is no bigger or more practical choice in this class.
    At £24,995, the Vectra VXR estate is £1,000 more than the hatch, making it £2,000 more expensive than Subaru's new Impreza WRX, and the same price as Audi's A4 2.0 T Avant. But while both those rivals are more fun to drive, neither offers the same combination of space and pace.

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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 8/11/05
    Date: November 8th, 2005
    Model: Vauxhall Vectra VXR
    Price: £23,995
    Engine: 2,792cc, V6 cylinders, 24 valves, turbocharger, 255bhp at 5,500rpm, 262lb ft 1,800-4,500rpm
    Transmission: six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
    Performance: 161mph, 0-60 in 6.5sec, 27.4mpg official average
    CO2: 247g/km
    How can a cappuccino be lukewarm when it has just been made? I don't know, but the one I'm sipping in Cerda, Sicily, is. But I don't mind because I've just been looking at other things that genuinely are hot. Or pictures of them anyway, in a museum dedicated to the mad Sicilian road race called the Targa Florio. It ran from 1906 to 1977, and for many years was part of the World Endurance Championship which also included the Le Mans 24 Hours.
    It couldn't happen today. Public safety awareness would render it impossible in the litigious mindset that is one of the US's most unpleasant exports, and modern Le Mans-type cars could never cope with the ridges and crests and cracks that punctuate these Sicilian roads. Those of the 1960s had a hard job, too, but the sight of Phil Hill in a Chaparral 2F or the local hero Nino Vaccarella in his Ferrari P4 showed that they gave it a good try.
    That Chaparral, with its huge rear aerofoil, was one of the weirder cars to compete. It had a Chevrolet V8 engine and covert General Motors backing, but that's not why I'm here today. The only slightly less tenuous excuse is that Fritz Opel, son of Adam Opel who founded the German car company that bears his surname and is nowadays also part of General Motors, took part in the 1907 Targa Florio, and today I'm driving Opel's latest racy product. Or rather Vauxhall's; nowadays, one is a translation of the other.
    Next to the cafť by the museum, the deep burble of a powerful, six-cylinder engine signals the arrival of a metallic blue car with generous wheels and a pair of exhaust pipes trapezoidal in cross-section. It's a large-ish, five-door hatchback that sits low and looks faintly menacing. Hard to believe, then, that it's a Vauxhall Vectra. Its personality transplant has occurred because this is a Vectra VXR, a car transformed in the way the VXR process has already reconfigured the Astra into something scary.
    Or maybe not in quite the same way. There are major similarities in the principle: more power from the turbocharged engine that already powers what was previously the top-of-the-range model, lowered suspension with stiffer springs and dampers, big brakes, cosmetic sportification, promise of a big pace potential and driving amusement. But the Astra VXR, though rapid and no doubt entertaining should you be lucky enough to drive only on smooth roads, can turn fractious and hyperactive when you try to enjoy its attributes on the sort of roads we rarely have away from Britain's trunk routes. Same goes for the new, Astra-based Zafira VXR MPV. How, then, will a VXR-ed Vectra turn out?
    I hope it will turn out well, because it will be one in the eye for people who think the only way to have a fast and roomy saloon (or estate car, because the Vectra VXR comes in either guise) is to have something expensively German or, at a push, Swedish. How can a Vauxhall be as good as an Audi or a BMW?
    Well, forget the charisma of a designer brand for a moment, and be objective. The Vectra is well made (in Germany), well furnished and finished, and now it's fully and thoroughly engineered thanks to the efforts of a British - yes British - engineering team.
    If you read my report on the facelifted mainstream Vectra range a few weeks ago, you'll remember the cars have undergone major changes in suspension and steering calibration to change them from dull and stodgy to incisive and interactive, while also improving ride comfort. And all of this new thinking has gone into the Vectra VXR.
    Now, some figures. The 2.8-litre V6 engine, with its twin-scroll turbocharger (one exhaust-gas channel from each of the two exhaust manifolds), delivers 255bhp and 262lb ft of torque. Acceleration from a standstill to 60mph, making full use of the six-speed manual gearbox, takes 6.5 seconds. Top speed - this is a Vectra, remember, a car favoured by the Shropshire police whose drivers can use all the pace with impunity on the M54 when out "testing" - is a scarcely credible 161mph.
    And you can buy the hatchback for £23,995 (there's no saloon alternative), the estate car for £1,000 more. The pace-times-space-divided-by-pounds-sterling sum could hardly be more favourable. Expect to see VXRs with a blue light on the roof on a motorway near you soon.
    I've started the engine, hearing that unexpectedly deep note. The accelerator response is keen, and as I point the VXR along the Sicilian roads, I discover that the steering response is similarly keen. Instant movement, instant effect; that this is a Vectra - a Vectra! how Clarkson must laugh! - does not readily compute.
    I feel connected, but the fractured road surface isn't jarring me to excess. Nor does the Vectra tug and squirm as I accelerate out of bends; it's flowing well, its steering is giving proper feedback as to the state of grip under the front wheels.
    The IDS2-plus "interactive driving system" integrates ESP stability control, traction control, the braking system and the electronically adaptive dampers which are constantly adapting their damping forces. The ESP system is designed to rein in a powerful front-wheel-drive car's tendency to run wide in corners.
    The turbocharged engine adds to the Vectra's abilities. It doesn't pour forth power in a bombastic torrent like the Astra VXR does; rather it erupts softly from low speeds right up to high speeds. Cruising in sixth gear is relaxed, but there's a deep resonance between 1,500 and 2,200rpm which can get intrusive in the hatchback VXR.
    As you will have gathered by now, I really like the Vectra VXR. I like the way it isn't the obvious choice, yet it makes the driver feel good. The estate version has a longer wheelbase and is fractionally less wieldy, but here is a car to take on the mantle of those cultish, black-wheeled Volvo 850 T5 estates of a decade ago. Sometimes it's good to overlook the obvious.
    ALFA 159 V6 Q4
    Top version of the Alfa 156 replacement has 260bhp from its 3.2-litre V6, and four-wheel drive. Extra weight means less pace and bigger fuel thirst than VXR, though. Good-looking car with great handling, UK sales start soon.
    BMW 318I M-SPORT
    Nearly as much money as the Vectra, but just 130bhp; it illustrates how overpriced the name brands can be. All the new 3-series cars are delightful to drive, though, helped by the dynamic purity of their rear-wheel-drive configuration.
    The VXR's obvious rival, also with a powerful V6, great handling and a credibility problem with brand-conscious buyers. A truly delightful car, but now upstaged for power and pace by the Vauxhall. Available as saloon, hatch or estate.

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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 19/11/05
    Date: November 19th, 2005
    By: Tony Dron
    Want a discreet performance car? The new VXR version of the Vectra fits the bill perfectly, says Tony Dron
    Reps might well dream of this car as they slog up and down the country meeting their sales targets. Despite the Vectra badge, performance is squarely in Porsche Boxster territory and only a handful of real high fliers will get their hands on one.
    The Vauxhall name might suggest mass-market sales, but the truth is that fewer than 1,000 will be sold in Britain each year. In its way, therefore, this is one of the most discreetly exclusive cars around. It exists, perhaps, to encourage the others.
    It might be a new Vectra, but such items as the honeycomb radiator grille, understated spoilers, distinctive exhaust pipes and special alloy wheels declare quietly that this is the VXR, the ultimate in the range, costing from £23,995 and capable of 161mph in hatchback form. The longer, heavier estate model - which starts from £24,995 - is very nearly as fast, with a top speed of 158mph.
    By any standard, the performance is pretty remarkable, but for a fairly large, five-door, family car from a volume manufacturer, it is nothing short of sensational. Easily the fastest Vectra ever made, it's based around the smooth new 252bhp, 2.8-litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine, as used in other General Motors models, notably the Saab 9-3.
    This is a magnificent machine in which the twin-scroll turbocharging system prevents turbo-lag and unpredictable surges in power and torque. A high peak-torque figure of 262lb ft is available from 1,800 to 4,500rpm. It really flies, yet it's not raucous.
    Noise from all sources is generally extremely low and it's easy to find yourself going faster than you intended. A perhaps deliberately included technical fault is a boominess at low speed and low revs - cruising around town at 1,500-2,000rpm in a high gear, the slightest throttle opening produces a distant but deep, resonant boom.
    I half suspect it has been introduced to remind owners that this is no ordinary family box but a high-performance car waiting to be unleashed. For some reason, incidentally, it's far more noticeable in the hatchback than in the estate.
    The entire car has been carefully considered and thoroughly developed. The drivetrain, chassis and brakes match up to the staggering performance of the engine, which can propel the hatch from rest to 62mph in 6.5 seconds. The gearbox is a good six-speeder and the special interior includes superb Recaro seats.
    In this atmosphere of high quality, it seems slightly odd that the steering column does not extend quite far enough for tall people. Why not? Cost is probably the answer to that. It's a bit of a pity when everything else is so right, but it's hardly a major fault.
    On the move, the handling is tremendously good. This is a well-sorted package, with superb electronic support. Despite the power, the steering doesn't tug around in your hands and the car goes accurately where you point it.
    The understeer-reducing part of the software really works and in continuous S-bends you can feel the car working with you brilliantly. And there is very little body roll. Don't bother switching off the traction-control systems, by the way, out of some macho urge. There's no point.
    Sport mode makes the steering slightly heavier and does a whole lot more to make it work better on a smooth road. The estate, 33kg heavier, nearly 9in longer and with a longer wheelbase, is still a mighty machine but just that bit more ponderous, that bit slower in its responses - although, to be fair, it's designed to carry a great deal more.
    You feel these Vectra VXRs through the seat of your pants more than the steering, which simply feels accurate with mildly variable weight input required. But you really do feel the car. It's confidence-inspiring because it has been put together by a bunch of engineers who know their job.
    There is occasionally some slight noise from the rear suspension, detectable only at low speeds, but that's nothing more than a trivial fault in an uncompromising car. The ride is excellent on most surfaces, with the single reservation that under hard braking it can "crash" heavily into minor potholes.
    The ride also gets noticeably firmer when Sport mode is engaged - so it's better avoided on bumpy roads, of which there were plenty on our long test route over parts of the old Targa Florio race circuit in Sicily. This was chosen partly because it showed the cars off well but also because of a slightly tenuous historical link, in that one of the original Opel family competed in the 1907 race. (In Europe, of course, our Vauxhalls are known as Opels.)
    Since the classic Sicilian road race was last run nearly 30 years ago, geological disturbances have wreaked havoc with the road surfaces. In three places on our route, half the road had fallen into ravines below, the gaping chasms temporarily fenced off. Elsewhere, there were many odd ripples and ledges in the tarmac, but they presented no problem for the VXR.
    This car must surely be an image seeker for the whole Vectra range. It is the fastest car in its class and the price is amazingly low for such performance but, as we know, few people will get to run one. Those who do will be fortunate indeed, for this is an exceptional car, in the same way as the equivalent Ford Mondeo ST220 is.
    Neither the Vauxhall nor the Ford really stands apart from your typical repmobile but, make no mistake, they are very different. They are completely thought-out, high-performance motor cars.
    In an ideal world, potential buyers would book test drives with both Vauxhall and Ford dealers to test the Vectra VXR directly against the rival Mondeo (likewise with the manufacturers' smaller high-performance offerings, the Astra VXR and Focus ST).
    But the world doesn't work like that. Many people in the market for a 160mph car would reject both these marques for snobbish reasons. That's their loss but, at the same time, devoted Ford and Vauxhall fans are about as likely to change allegiance as football team supporters.
    The scene is further complicated by companies' fleet-buying policies, meaning that in many cases cars can only be bought from one or other of these giants. So who will get these few Vectra VXRs? I haven't a clue. All I know is that they won't be disappointed.
    Vauxhall Vectra VXR
    Price/availability: hatch from £23,995, on sale now; estate from £24,995, on sale next March.
    Engine/transmission: 2,792cc V6 petrol with four valves per cylinder, DOHC per bank and twin-scroll turbocharger; 252bhp at 5,500rpm, 262lb ft of torque from 1,800-4,500rpm. Six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive.
    Performance: hatch top speed 161mph, 0-62mph in 6.5sec, EU Urban fuel consumption 18.3mpg, CO2 emissions 247g/km. Estate 158mph, 6.7sec, 18.2mpg, 250g/km.
    We like: Serious performance family car that doesn't attract unwanted attention; excellent chassis with advanced electronics offers remarkable roadholding and handling; robust brakes with superb feel; amazing performance for the money.
    We don't like: Steering column should extend one more inch for tall drivers; mild transmission "shunt" when decelerating at low speeds; ride can be harsh when braking hard over a pothole.
    Alternatives: Ford Mondeo 3.0 V6 ST220 hatch, from £24,300. Mitsubishi Evo MR FQ-300 saloon, from £27,999. Subaru Impreza 2.0 WRX STi AWD saloon, from £26,400

  8. #8
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 4/5/05
    Date: May 4th, 2005
    By: Chris Thorp
    Exclusive images in this week's mag show the hottest Vectra yet, and Auto Express can reveal it will put the VXR badge on the performance car map once and for all. With turbo power, a track-tuned chassis and a top speed in excess of 160mph, this is the machine that Vauxhall fans have been waiting for.
    As with the other models in the Luton firm's sporting line-up, the facelifted Vectra's bodywork has been given a muscular makeover. A deep front airdam sits below the trademark V-grille, but all the silver trim found on other variants is removed for a sportier look.
    The new VXR's profile is dominated by striking 19-inch alloys and deep sculpted side skirts. At the rear, designers have held nothing back in giving the Vauxhall the most imposing appearance possible, with a centrally mounted exhaust pipe and a bold boot spoiler.
    However, it will take more than a brash bodykit for the hot Vectra to stay ahead of its rivals. To give the VXR the pace buyers will demand, it's equipped with a 2.8-litre turbocharged engine producing nearly 250bhp.
    Company top brass have yet to release official performance figures, but customers should expect a maximum speed in excess of 160mph and a 0-60mph time of no more than six seconds. The quickest model in the current Vectra line-up is the 3.2-litre V6-powered GSi, which takes exactly seven seconds to complete the benchmark sprint.
    Vauxhall has also called in its most skilled European chassis engineers to overhaul the Vectra's underpinnings. The manufacturer is already claiming that even standard versions of the revised family favourite will be much better to drive than the existing model - so what can we expect from the new flagship? A spokesman told Auto Express: "People who drive the VXR will still want some refinement, but they are willing to make more compromises. Compared to the SRi, the new machine will feel far more raw and sporty."
    To complete the racy set-up, the standard Vectra brakes have made way for oversized discs which offer greater stopping power than those fitted to the Monaro VXR muscle car. Our sources have told us bright blue calipers will add the finishing touch.
    Family buyers will be pleased to learn that the Vectra VXR is almost certain to be available in estate guise, too. While only the five-door seen here will go on sale when the high-performance flagship is launched in the new year, the load-lugger is likely to join the range by the end of 2006. The slow-selling saloon and luxurious Signum are the only variants that won't get the VXR treatment.
    Inside, the newcomer is fitted with supportive leather-trimmed sports seats, while VXR badging adorns the dash and gearknob. Prices have yet to be confirmed, but buyers can expect little change from £25,000. That will pitch the Vauxhall at a similar price level to Ford's Mondeo ST220 - the car the hot Vectra must beat to secure class honours.
    Following the launch of the Astra VXR in September, the range-topping Vectra will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the same month. The VXR line-up will then grow to include the Zafira in the New Year, the Meriva in the spring and the next-generation Corsa before the end of 2006. A hot version of the Tigra has been ruled out, though, as the company isn't confident that the drop-top's chassis could cope with the kind of power buyers would expect.
    Meanwhile, time is running out for the VX220 line-up. Production of all variants will cease within the next 12 months, and bosses are still undecided about whether or not a replacement model will be sold in the UK.

  9. #9
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 10/8/05
    Date: August 10th, 2005
    By: Dan Strong
    Will this be the world's fastest family hatchback when it goes on sale in November? It's Vauxhall's scorching Vectra VXR, and marks the next chapter in the Luton firm's bid to become the nation's favourite performance car brand.
    Capable of 161mph and 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds, it will take over as the brand's flagship speed machine when sales of the Monaro finish in the spring. Launched hot on the heels of the hugely powerful Astra VXR, the new Vectra has been designed to take on the likes of the Ford Mondeo ST, plus four-wheel-drive Japanese rivals such as Subaru's Impreza WRX.
    Although its styling isn't as wild as that of the equivalent Astra, the Vectra is an imposing sight, thanks to its deep front bumper, large alloys and rear spoiler. Inside, it features a driver-oriented cockpit, with half-leather Recaro seats, a chunky steering wheel and VXR detailing on the instruments.
    The newcomer is powered by a 2.8-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and delivers 255bhp and 320Nm of torque. In-gear performance is tipped to be impressive. Early indications suggest the 50-70mph dash in fifth will take only 7.6 seconds - nearly as quick as Audi's V8-engined S4. "The Astra remains the hero of the fast-growing VXR line-up," said a Vauxhall spokesman. "But the Vectra promises to offer equal thrills in a more discreet, practical package."
    Engineers admit they've needed to pay special attention to the handling and the braking system. With front discs measuring 335mm across, the anchors are the largest ever on a roadgoing Vauxhall. The company's IDS+ set-up, which incorporates Continuous Damping Control, has also been uprated. Introduced on the Astra, the system uses computers to manage the car's suspension and braking, maximising grip.
    In the Astra, it's effective, but in the Vectra it should be even more impressive. That's because the company has fitted an extra computer to fine-tune the dynamic response even further. The only other two cars to get such an advanced set-up are Ferrari's 575M and new F430 - although the Vectra, of course, won't be anywhere near as expensive.
    Vauxhall claims the newcomer will cost "less than £25,000". But Auto Express has learned it will be priced at £23,995. While the five-door machine will go on sale first, a VXR estate is due in showrooms here in March. Official pictures are expected next week.

  10. #10
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    14th December 2005

    Default Vectra C, 2.8iV6T (Z28NET),, 17/8/05
    Date: August 17th, 2005
    By: Ross Pinnock
    Space and pace make this the car for antique dealers in a hurry! Just a week after we published pictures of the new Vauxhall Vectra VXR, here's the load-lugging version - and it promises to be one of the fastest estates on sale.
    It shares the five-door's discreet styling - including a deeper front bumper and side sills - and should closely match that car's 6.1-second 0-60mph time. A spokesman for the Luton firm said: "We don't have the official figures yet, but expect a top speed of 160mph."
    Power comes from the same 255bhp 2.8-litre six-cylinder turbo engine as the hatch, which will make the estate an excellent tow car. Torque of 320Nm means strong in-gear performance, even when fully loaded. To keep the power in check, the VXR uses the firm's IDS+ set-up, which optimises suspension and braking performance. "The estate has a longer wheelbase than the hatchback, so the suspension and handling are different, but it will still handle as well as the five-door," added the spokesman. New 18-inch alloy wheels accommodate massive 335mm front brake discs.
    Despite its performance credentials and VXR branding, the Vectra is one of the most practical estates on sale, thanks to the biggest boot in its class. Up front, the cabin features sat-nav and half-leather Recaro seats as standard.
    Sales will begin next March, with prices set to start at £24,995 - that's around £1,000 more than the hot five-door. And the next generation of VXR cars could even come with diesel power. "An oil-burner hasn't been ruled out - but it won't happen in the foreseeable future," said the spokesman.

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