Vauxhall’s partnership with Saab is, more often than not, reported in the 9-3’s extensive use of Vectra underpinnings. So it’s a nice change for Luton to borrow a little bit of Swedish know-how when spicing up the Vectra with a turbo version.Rather than using the homegrown turbos powering the Zafira and Astra Gsi, the Vectra 2.0T uses an adaptation of the 2.0-litre four found in the Saab 9-3. But with a Griffin badge on the cam cover it produces 173bhp at 5500rpm and 195lb ft at a usefully low 2500rpm.
Inside, the only clue to the new engine is on the gearlever: this is the first time a Vauxhall driver has had six cogs to play with since the days of the Calibra Turbo. It’s a pretty slick shifter, too and ratios are well matched to the engine.
Second takes you to nigh-on 60mph, so there’s not need for unnecessary stirring, and sixth allows relaxed motorway cruising without the irritation of constant gearchanging to regain pace. The light pressure turbo is of the housetrained variety too.
No lag here, just a nice linear response all the way to the red-line. Chirp the tyres away from a standing start and it’s usefully swift too: the 0-62mph sprint takes a reasonable 9.1sec, according to Vauxhall’s stopwatch, but it felt quicker to us.
Yes, this is the best Vectra to date. But some of its shortcomings still show through. Its ability to soak up large bumps and undulations isn’t in question: the problem is that the suspension serves up a jittery ride even at lowish speeds. The Vectra’s ride and composure just can’t match the Mondeo’s.
The Vectra turbo isn’t a supremely accomplished driver’s tool. But it’s good to be talking about a desirable Vectra, at last. And with a 2.0-litre turbo under the bonnet it’s finally got a weapon the Mondeo currently has no answer for.
Rory Lumsdon

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