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Motoring for Women
Vauxhall Vectra 1.9DTI Sri Estate
Vauxhall have completely redesigned the Vectra, upgraded the interior, sorted out the chassis and added new engines. As a result of these improvements, the Vectra Estate was voted “What Car” Best Estate Car 2006. With the holiday season looming, it seemed appropriate to examine the new Vectra in more detail and ascertain if it is up to the arduous job of British holidays.
The most noticeable feature is the exterior body styling that bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Often estate cars lack any style but the Vectra has made a pretty impressive effort with quite a striking new front end dominated by the new huge light clusters and large black lattice structure with side air take and integrated fog lights. Along with 17-inch alloy wheels and body coloured door handles, door mirrors and protection strips, the new Vectra scores highly on the style front.
Inside any estate car has to be robust to put up with the demands it is expected to take. So, while it may be quite basic, its practical and functional with clear instrument panels, the electrics for the windows and doors neatly placed in the drivers armrest with lights to the right of the height adjustable steering wheel which also houses remotes for the audio and sat nav system.
The central console is pretty bland but it needs to be uncluttered hence simply houses the stereo radio with MP3 CD player, sat nav on a colour monitor and the air conditioning controls. The height adjustable front seats are comfortable for the long journeys while the rear will easily take three booster cushions. The key to any estate is obviously the luggage area and here the Vectra excels in a massive 530 litres of space evolving into 1850 litres when the rear seats are flat. Maximising the load space is child’s play by simply pulling on a lever and the seat backs fold forwards onto the cushions to reveal a complete flat load without removing headrests.
A roll out parcel shelf along with a roll out dog guard is all-standard along with luggage lashings. Just watch out for the children secretly trying to clamber into the boot areas via their opening in the armrest. I’m still missing an Easter egg! Further storage solutions are to found in the door pockets, under floor areas and Vauxhalls Flex Organiser that creates easy secure and clearly defined storage compartments in the luggage area using rails built into the side panels and flexible arrangements of nets and dividers.
Couple that with the power tailgate either on the remote key fob or internal button, loading up the car could not be easier. The tailgate even has an obstruction sensing safety mechanism that prevents accidents when closing the tailgate. Current Vectra owners will be pleased to know the chassis has been redesigned to cope with our dodgy roads, providing better control and increased ride comfort thanks to a new IDS-plus chassis with electronic continuous damping control system. The 1.9 litre turbo diesel engine sprints from 0-62 in a mere 9.5 seconds using the six speed manual gearbox, has a top speed of 129 mph and excels in fuel consumption with 47.9 mpg on a combined cycle. That's good news for the long journeys, fewer stops at the petrol station, less money to spend on sweets.
The Vectra SRI is laden with safety and security features such as driver and passenger front airbags, front seat side impact airbags and full size curtain airbags. Keeping the Vectra SRI firmly on the road is ABS while aiding driver’s is rain sensing wipers and Adaptive Forward Lighting. This adaptive bi-xenon system is the only headlamp in the world, which offers a dynamic curve light with static cornering illumination, and adaptive speed dependant lamp in one unit.
In bends, the steering linked headlights swivel up to 15 degrees into the curve the car is travelling through and an extra reflector provides wide-angle illumination of junctions and tight curves. Trust me, at night; this is a fantastic safety asset. Securing the Vectra Sri is a remote control security alarm and remote control central deadlocking hence falling into insurance group 11E.
There is still a huge market for estate cars and it is really refreshing to see they have not been left behind in the style school. Vauxhall have redesigned this car with a lot of attention to detail both inside and outside and together with the much-improved ride and handling should appease even the most demanding of families. To sway them further is the price reduction. Starting from £17, 945 rising to a cool £23,245, its extremely competitive with the model I was testing at £21, 385.
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Jackie Violet, motoring journalist, mother of two and qualified driving instructor reviews cars and outlines issues relevant to working mums and motoring such as safety, entertainment and most of all, comfort!