So have you ever considered a way of writing a journalistic report? Consider this. Write about all the goods bits at first, give you good thoughts on the car at the beginning, bringing you up high and then suddenly drop you like a stone falling to the ground at warp 5. The report ends on a low note. So you put the magazine down and walk way thinking hard about the good bits constantly fighting back the low opinion the journalist had of your dream car. So let me give you my opinion of the Vectra VXR.
I have now owned my Vectra VXR for a mere 4 weeks and itís just hit the 1000 mile mark.
The first impression you as you open the door for the first time, is the solid feel of the car, the heavy feeling doors moving with precision as it weeps open to reveal the half leather Recaro interior. How the smell of the leather and cloth greet your nose. As you sit in the seat the Recaroís hug you, supporting all parts of your body, giving you unlimited adjustment through the seat and steering wheel. Soft touch features adorn the interior from slow retracting grab handles to the damped controlled drop of the glove box. The centre cup holders are missing as the new Bluetooth kit sits in their place. This is an ideal place for the kit as your mobile phone can be mounted right next to the hand brake. The kit allows both blue tooth and installed connection to the car. The CD70 displays any call coming in and the phone book can be uploaded from the phone. The quality of conversations is excellent and most callers donít notice a great deal of difference.
The car is fitted with standard electric windows all round, an option which was never available on the old Vectra GSi. The driverís door panel has the controls for the windows all round, the electric mirrors and a central door lock and unlock facility. The CD70 navigation sits in the centre of the dash giving you clear and precise information. However, a draw back of this position is that it allows for glare to show any marks or dust which might have appeared on the screen. The car comes with standard automatic air conditioning, although the climate control is an option.
Any way enough of the interior, well not quiet. A trade mark of the new VXR range seems to be to get all the dials to sweep around to their extremes and return to rest. This of course does not stop you from starting the car.
Starting from cold, the V6 sings a loud and proud song, sounding very much like a Ferrari, as the rev counter indicates 1500 rpm. Within 20 seconds or so the revs start to drop back to their normal position and the sound drops off to a deep throaty growl, begging you to blip the throttle just to listen to it. As the engine returns to idle, itís smooth and clean, not giving a hint of how aggressive it sounds when the throttle is activated.
As you pull away the engine pulls cleanly giving no indication of how cold it is outside, not a hiccup, not bump, just pure acceleration. The engine takes little time warm up and is ready for action within 2 or 3 miles.
On the road the engine pulls cleanly and is more or less silent. If a criticism has too be made, with the window up, the car is going to be too quiet for some, hardly a murmur from the engine being heard. As you accelerate the engine through the rev range the noise seems to be more of a whining sound rather than a loud exhaust penetrating into the cabin. But for me this suits well. However, if you want the exhaust note, just drop the window, well the passengerís one, then you wonít get cold and the full growl and purposeful exhaust note can be enjoyed.
The engine is strong and powerful, and in comparison to my old Vectra B 3.2 V6, is allot stronger down at the bottom end of the rev range, only starting to equal and then be overtaken by the old Vectra B from about 5000 rpm, but more about that soon. There seems very little turbo lag. What is most noticeable is how strong the upper gears are, mainly due to the turbo providing all that torque. This car is a serious licence looser if you do not keep check of how fast you are going. The problem with that is the constant requirement to check the Speedo and perhaps thatís where it needs to be a tad noisier. The nicest thing for me is how well the car pulls down low, without labouring but how clean it is compared to the old Vecci B, not ever hinting at a jerky ride from below 2000rpm. Flexibility is vast and it would be so easy to drive around in a high rear without even noticing it. On the reverse of that, the engine, as said, is so quiet I did find myself a couple of times drifting along in 2nd gear without the engine ever giving a hint of disgust. I think I was more disgusted in myself.
If I have a real criticism of the car, it would be levied at the gearbox. Although the box itself is smooth, slick and accurate, it just has too high a final drive ratio. You can nearly match the countryís legal speed limit in 2nd gear and working on the speed Vs revs, break the legal limit by 31 mph in 3rd. The car should have been fitted with the box from the Vectra-C 20T SRi. Although this is still an F40 the final drive drops from 3.55 to 3.91 with all the ratioís being the same. Of course being a 6 speed box you would still retain your cruising and top speed figures, and perhaps better the top speed. This would allow a more flexible and responsive pick-up and giving an impression of a far quicker car, although you may have realised this car is no slow car, getting to all speeds very quickly. It would just add a little extra sparkle and whilst itís in the parts bin why not use it.
However, I do see one major draw back with my solution, Vauxhall may have found their Vectra VXR being quicker than their hooligan Astra VXR possibly then affecting the image of the Astra and sales.
So with all this power available, how does it cope with it on the road? If you look at the Astra and Vectra along side each other, the Vectra looks so much taller. Both cars handle with precision and are accurate. In my opinion the Astra has had allot more work placed on traditional suspension set-ups whilst the Vectra relies on 2 on-board computers to do the work. In a final contest the Astra surely wins with giving excellent feed back to the driver, but donít be mis-guided the Vectra hangs on as long as the Astra will. With the Vectra relying on electrics, the car can feel like itís floating over the road surface. Where the Vectra does score highly and has been noticed by passengers as well as myself, is in the handling of bumps. On rough surfaces the car is very well balanced and accurate. What you do notice is the car runs flat on the road in almost all situations. Itís a very unusual feeling to hear the suspension working hard but not be transmitted into the cabin, you hear it go down the bump but rarely feel it.
Cornering is flat and even in the non-sport mode, you can push on hard with little if no hint of the car wanting to shift its line. Occasionally you may feel a shift side ways if you hit a bump mid- corner from the back end but in reality its sitting firmly on the ground. The ride is excellent, even on the 19inch alloy wheels giving no hint of an uncomfortable ride. Of course running 235/35 profile tyres you would expect a poor ride, but itís excellent.
With the car having IDS+2 this comes complete with CDC (continuous damping control). The Vectra has whooping 345 ventilated disks on the front, with 289 ventilated disks on the rear. When braking hard, it is a very unusual feeling that the carís nose does not continue dipping as the speed is pulled down. After the initial dip from the front the CDC limits any further dipping, keeping a balance from front to rear, very clearly keeping the back end on the ground. You just donít get that thrown forward feeling.
I think the front bumper colour could be better, but this is common on modern cars with the type of plastics used for construction.
A very creditable part of the car is the fuel consumption. At a steady 70 mph, it is not difficult to achieve an excellent 37mpg. Drop down to a lazy 55mph and watch the mpg go up to 42mpg.
So whatís my first 1000 miles been like? Well overall, I love the car. Its fast, quiet, comfortable, has allot of creature comforts, and carries 5 people in comfort. It handles well, brakes well and still pushes onto a claimed 161mph where you can legally.
The big question now has to be, would I have an Astra instead, well yes if I had the money as a second car and as a frantic, poppie extreme fun car to use on my own, yes I would. But would I change it for the Vectra, not on your life, the Vectra has all I want and need, itís not without fault, what car is, but as a package is excellent and offers me more than the Astra performance and looks can.
As time goes on I will add to the reports as I get a chance perhaps to get the car on the circuit and explore the cars finer limits.
Hope you enjoyed this report and of course feel free to add any comments and ask questions.