I was torn by the many choices available in the big estate car market, and was considering a car in the Audi A4 or BMW 5 series estate range, which would cost a lot of money, but offer a great deal in exchange.
The Vectra was an afterthought, because I didn't think it could compare with its much pricier rivals. However, I tried the big 3 litre V6 turbo diesel and was amazed at the value for money it seemed to offer. It had an unbeatable load carrying capacity, a quiet and refined engine and all the toys I could wish for, like cruise control, air-con, full leather, automatic lights and wipers, wonderful parking sensors, satellite navigation and much more besides. I am glad I took the chance and bought it.
At £15,000 for a car less than a year old, heavy depreciation was obvious but, seeing as it was £27,000 new, a fair chunk of it had been experienced by the previous owner. In the 13,000 miles I have covered, the car has performed faultlessly. A recent fully loaded jaunt to Portugal, a round trip of over 2000 miles, mostly at, ahem, let's say enthusiastic motorway speeds, the car returned over 40 MPG & regularly gives me nearly 40 MPG overall. It is quiet, refined, powerful, very comfortable and relaxed and the car has never given me a moments trouble.
The only niggles worth a mention are the indicators, which are annoying until you master the soft touch for 3 clicks, firmer touch for more system which is, at best, rather silly as 3 clicks isn't really enough for lane changing anyway, and the Satellite Navigation system, which works well enough, but does require you to be quite studious with the instruction manual as it is rather complex.
To drive, the car feels at its best on motorways where 2000 RPM gives you over 70 MPH in sixth gear. Although it could hardly be described as sporty on the twisty stuff, it is sure footed enough to clip along at reasonable speeds. There is a degree of under steer but this is easily mastered.
Overtaking is effortless and rarely needs a down change to achieve safely, as there is a massive amount of torque.
In conclusion, nobody questions the Vectra's ability as a load carrier and comfortable motorway cruiser, but popular opinion seems to credit it with little else. I have found it to be much more besides. It is fun to drive, surprisingly refined and judging by the number of old Vectra's still on the road, long lasting.
It is not a car to buy as an investment as they do depreciate heavily (even more so now with the introduction of the Insignia), and it certainly doesn't have the street-cred of a BMW or Audi. What it does offer is economical day to day practicality, with lots of power and refinement from an excellent engine and gearbox for very little money.