The smart light grey trim upholstery was equally resplendent and inviting ... just the ticket to cruise around in for a couple of days.
Like a good bottle of wine, the Vectra has got decidedly better down the years.
The car has evolved from its predecessor, the Cavalier, to maintain strong sales across Britain and Europe.
The Vectra has retained its healthy following, particularly in sales rep land, where it remains a favourite.
Its traits have become somewhat legendary.
It's well known for being reliable, well- built, spacious and with a sizeable boot as well.
Those magic ingredients have ensured that Vauxhall gets a healthy share of the corporate pie in terms of fleet business.
But the appeal of the car, whether in saloon or hatchback, was not just restricted to the motorway brigade battling to win orders.
The Vectra has also been a popular choice with private buyers, largely due to its high residual value.
Few experienced that well- known scene where an embarrassed car salesman mutters into his hankerchief as he tries to tell you how little your car is now worth.
But with competition increasing, Vauxhall decided to revamp the Vectra to retain its stake in a lucrative sector.
The product resulted in howls of criticism from the motoring press, who complained there was nothing strikingly different about the car's looks.
In their defence, Vauxhall pointed to the fact that their changes to the Vectra had taken place under the skin.
A new chassis, suspension and steering system were deployed to increase driving enjoyment.
Now was my opportunity to put their claims to the test as I put the new Vectra through its paces.
It only takes a couple of miles to realise that the Vectra's road handling has greatly improved. The ride is much tauter and not as wishy-washy as it had been before.
The bigger wheels give the car a more balanced approach and minimise body roll even when approaching a sharp bend at speed. There are no alarming wiggles as you shoot around the corner.
The power steering tended to be on the light side at times, although I didn't encounter any anxious moments while I was testing the car.
AT the heart of the car was an energetic two-litre direct injection turbo diesel engine.
Let loose on a motorway and there was no difference between its pace and that of a conventional petrol unit.
The acceleration was decent, thanks to the slick close-ratio five-speed gearbox.
Even when pressed into action at 70mph there was still sufficient instant power available.
Pushed to the limit, the Vectra is capable of 121mph. From a standing start it pounded its way to 60mph in 12 seconds.
However, the diesel engine isn't the quietest of the new breed now around.
From start-up to motorway speeds, engine noise was obvious even with the radio up high
But you would put up with this if I told you that the car is capable of 46 miles to a gallon on a combined journey.
On jaunts between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the fuel consumption was excellent.
At pounds 21,800, the top-of-the-range CDX is too expensive, even though it has more toys than an Argos catalogue, including electronic traffic reports, climate control, and heated seats.
So it remains to be seen whether buyers will spend so much without getting a more exclusive marque.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 18, 1999|
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