18 July 2005
began its life as a medium sized car, but in its latest format, which
went on sale in 2003 is a full size larger than its predecessors. That
latter model is actually similar in dimensions to the original
Commodores. Thus it can be used as a family car by those who donít
need, or donít want, to drive a large car. However, buyers havenít
really gone for this latest model, to the extent that Holden had to trim
the new-car price at one stage in an attempt to lift flagging sales.
Vectra began as a full import from Europe, but was built in Australia
for a time, before going back to an import to let Holden utilise its
production capacity on Commodore and the variants based on it.
The Euro Holden, itís an Opel product, first reached Australia in June
1997. Then it was sold only as a four-door sedan or a five-door
hatchback. A five-door station wagon was added to the lineup when local
assembly began in August 1998. Wagons were taken off the market at the
end of 2000, though some may not have been registered until the first
months of the new millennium.
This Holden, as with just about every other Euro car, has an excellent
reputation for its dynamic abilities. Thus appealing to people who enjoy
their motoring, rather than simply getting from point A to point B. Road
grip is impressive and Vectra is happy to change direction promptly
during the hardest of cornering.
Interior room is good in the front but rear legroom prior to the 2003
model is marginal if the front seats are set well back. The boot is good
in all versions with the wagon having a nicely shaped load area.
Initially the lower cost Vectra models used a 2.0-litre four-cylinder
engine. Its capacity was increased to 2.2 litres with the change to
Australian manufacture in 1998. The four-cylinder is a handy engine with
good torque, though it is not as refined as some in its class.
The topline Vectra CD (hatchback only) used a 2.5-litre V6. That engine
is very European in its setup so, though smooth and refined, doesn't
have a lot of grunt at lower revs. Try it for yourself if you are doing
a lot of suburban and commuting driving.
The 2003 Vectra has a choice between a 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine
and a 3.2-litre V6.
Most V6 models came with four-speed automatic transmission only until
the 2003 ZC moved to five-speed automatic. The V6 CDXi also came with
five-speed manual while the rest of the range give a choice between
four-speed auto and five-speed manual.
Holden Vectra is relatively complicated in design so all but basic
repairs are best left to the professional mechanic. If you do your own
work, make sure you have access to a workshop manual.
Vectra is, of course, backed by the huge Holden dealer network. Some
spare parts may not be stocked in remote areas but can generally be
shipped out in a day or so. Prices are around average for a European car
of this type. Meaning they are often more expensive than for the locally
built Holdens, but never excessively so.
Insurance costs are generally on the low to medium side in their range.
We know of no insurance company that discriminates between four and
six-cylinder engines in premiums.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Be sure that the engine starts virtually immediately and the
four-cylinder idles reasonably smoothly. The six should be all but
imperceptible when itís idling. Both engines should pull without
hesitation even when cold, run without any rattles and not puff smoke
from the exhaust under acceleration.
Manual gearboxes generally hold up well, but be suspicious of one that
baulks and/or is noisy during changes. A fast three-two downshift will
generally find any hassles.
Look for signs of body damage or previous repairs. The latter can most
easily be spotted by checking for wrinkles in the panels. These are seen
more easily if you look along the length of the panel against a good
light. Check for poor quality repairs in hard to see areas such as under
the bonnet and in the boot.
Paint that isnít an exact match from the old to the new paint
indicates a former respray.
The interior generally stands up well to rough usage but, as in all
cars, can be wrecked by uncaring occupants. Check the rear seat for
CAR BUYING TIP
Cars that carry local Australian nameplates aren't necessarily
designed and built for use in harsh areas. Some are better adapted for
local conditions than others.
Marque Publishing Company