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Car reviews - Holden - Vectra - GL 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Refined road behaviour, wagon versatility
Room for improvement
Smaller than Camry or Magna, European identity lost behind Holden badge

Holden logo10 May 2001

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

HOLDEN has another class winner in the Australian-built Vectra.

Like the impressive, smaller Astra, the Vectra brings a nice touch of European flair to the mid-size family category.

Slightly smaller than a Camry or Magna, the Vectra is, nevertheless, an accommodating package that offers outstanding ride and handling as well as strong performance from either its 2.0-litre or 2.2-litre, four-cylinder engines or its 2.5-litre V6.

The Mondeo-sized Vectra was launched in June, 1997, as Holden's first competitive mid-sized family car since the hapless Camira bowed out in the late 1980s.

Developed by Opel in Germany, the Vectra was initially imported from Belgium for the first year of sale and modified for our tougher conditions. Now Vectra is produced at and exported from Holden's Elizabeth plant in South Australia.

Vectra is available in two trim levels, base GL and luxury CD, and three body styles - sedan, hatch and a station wagon.

Not all trim and engine options are available in each body style.

Standard equipment on the GL includes a driver's side airbag, seatbelt pretensioners, remote central locking, a six-speaker radio/cassette, cupholders and an engine immobiliser.

The Vectra's well built cabin is all soft plastic and tasteful trim. Headroom in the back is adequate, as is legroom, but the Vectra is not Magna-wide. So it is best seen as a comfortable four-seater. The glovebox and boot are huge while the over- designed outside rear-view mirrors are rather small.

The modern dashboard features a rake-adjustable steering wheel affording a good driving position. The seats are comfortable and provide excellent support, especially as the driver's can be raised or lowered.

On the road, the 2.2-litre, locally-built, four-cylinder Family II engine in the sedan and wagon feels strong and confidence- inspiring. It runs smoothly, thanks to a pair of balance shafts.

It produces plenty of low-end torque, meaning it is not too keen to rev.

Acceleration is satisfyingly brisk. The fluid yet well weighted manual gearbox is a delight while the three-mode automatic mates with the engine's power characteristics well

The roomy hatch continues with the less powerful 2.0-litre, four- cylinder engine.

The locally-refined suspension insulates the occupants from road noise while keeping a firm and flat grip on the road.

The steering is weighty in a mature European way with sufficient feedback to keep the driver informed.

The spacious wagon looks chic with its standard roof bars and features a retractable load cover, hardy rubbing strips on the floor and hidden storage boxes.

The Vectra makes a welcome return of style, practicality and driver enjoyment to the conservative medium-sized market.

- Automotive NetWorks 08/02/1999

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