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Transformed into a winner.

The capture of several awards is testimony in itself to the advances made with the new-generation Vauxhall Vectra.

A very ordinary car which did most of its business in fleets has been transformed into one with much wider appeal and, indeed, it has taken a Family Car of the Year title.

Apart from the new chassis, Vauxhall has thrown in a lot of technology, comfort and safety features.

It is noticeably bigger than the outgoing version, the extra 60mm of wheelbase alone doing wonders for cabin space. A width of nearly 1.8m also ensures room for broad shoulders.

This adult-friendly nature is furthered by the body design, the sweeping domed roof and big doors providing good head room and easy access.

Even at this LS level, though, equipment levels are generous and enticing. For as little as pounds 14,880 (for the 1.8i LS) you get air conditioning, front, side and curtain airbags, cruise control, automatic wipers, radio/CD player with steering wheel controls, front electric windows and heated door mirrors.

But the star turn of the cabin is its executive-class quietness, with superb engine muffling and minimal road and wind noise.

On motorways and good-quality A-roads the ride is creamy smooth, thanks to the very soft new suspension set-up. But get on to undulating surfaces and the car can take on the personality of a trampoline.

Cornering brake control is among the standard technology, along with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, while all Vectras, apart from 1.8s, have traction control.

Not all the gadgets are good news, however. The silly indicators system can still defeat me, and this is the third time I've taken it on.

The test car was armed with an all-aluminium 147bhp 2.2-litre 16-valve engine, and a happy unit it proved to be. There was nice power availability for such exercises as overtaking and only moderate use of the five-speed manual gearbox was required and then it was a pleasant, easy shift.

Front storage space is fair, while at the back you get a centre-armrest tray, a power point, seatback pockets, neat pop-out drinks holders and ventilation/heating outlets, a package that should keep the kids happy.

Facts and figures

Make: Vauxhall

Model:Vectra 2.2i LS

Price: pounds 15,375.

Mechanical: 147bhp, 2,198cc petrol engines driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 9.2 secs

Combined mpg: 32.8

Insurance group: 10

CO2 emissions: 206g/km

BiK rating: 25%

Warranty: 3 years/ 60,000 miles
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Article Details
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 27, 2003
Words:422
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