How do you replace a Jaguar XJR? If you were looking at life without a 370hp, computer-suspended, leather-smelling, walnut-trimmed Porsche-worrying happy-maker, would you usually turn to a Vauxhall?
And if the wife's complaints about 17mpg and 10,000 miles to a pair of rear tyres were getting too voluble, what then?
The Vectra was chosen as the follow-up to an unfollowable act. I'd been dating Helena Bonham Carter, and I'd just ditched her for the girl from Tesco's. I knew there'd be tears before bedtime.
So where's the pain? OK, so the acceleration doesn't move your hairline an inch backwards, but it's still plenty to embarrass most challengers. And with a top speed of 154, you're within 1 mph of the Jag's restricted maximum. On England's crowded motorways, you're only going to get near that speed at 12.15am on January 1st, so what's the difference?
Where this car shows real class is in its power delivery. BHP is a relatively modest 211, but it feels much more powerful than this. Before the XJR I drove a 3.0 Jaguar S-Type, whose 240bhp engine always felt gutless. The Vauxhall always has power on tap - it pulls cleanly from 1000 revs in top gear.
I'm not a fan of front wheel drive, but this car suffers very little from trying to pull and steer from the same pair of wheels. It feels confident and understeer is well under control. The ESP (Electronic stability program) system seems unobtrusive, and it's never yet punished over-enthusiasm by confiscating all the power.
The stereo system is way above average - better in fact than the Harmon Kardon in the XJR. The 6 disc changer is in the dash, making it (theoretically)possible to change music on the move.
So is the car perfect? Very nearly. In fact if Vauxhall hadn't chosen to install their ludicrous indicator system, I'd be hard put to find anything to criticise.
But they did.
We've been working the indicators by a stalk on the column for 50 years. It works. Don't fix it. The idea that we want an indicator stalk that that sometimes cancels itself, sometimes doesn't, and often encourages you to indicate the wrong way is very hard to understand.
Vauxhall, if you read customer opinions, PLEASE listen to your drivers. You've come astonishingly close to producing something outstanding. We have a high performance car that's cheap to buy, cheap to run (32mpg!), fun to drive and exceptionally well equipped. You've proved that the girl at Tesco's can have the beauty and staying power of a movie star.
And then you've stuck a wart on her face.