Vauxhall's isn't the sexiest badge in the company car park, which is a shame. Remember the exciting GTE and Sri variants?
Also, for the time, the Nova and Astra GTE. Oh, and there was the Lotus Carlton and the VX220.
Vauxhall, then, really is a manufacturer of contrasts. So let's look at its mixed bag of often rather wonderful used cars.
Although large rear-wheel-drive saloons can be bought with all sorts of posh badges, we think that the traffic cops had it right in their big white Senators and Omegas with the blues and twos. It’s a big old barge that's very forgiving and always feels safe. In top trim it is extremely comfortable and the estate is massively practical.
Thank heavens for the real men Down Under who created the primeval Monaro, an unapologetic throwback to a simpler age. Vauxhall officially imported (though never type approved) the original 5.7 V8 LS1 model. There was also a limited run of a more powerful VXR version. In 2005 a VXR version with a 6.0 LS2 V8 and uprated suspension arrived.
It’s a long Vectra with a massive 2830mm between the front and rear wheels. So legroom isn't an issue, especially with the FlexSpace system. In seconds you can fold the rear centre seat away to create an even more spacious four-seater and then individually slide the two rear seats back by up to 130mm, creating 985mm of legroom. Not only that but the seats also recline to a highly amenable 30deg angle.
The VX220's 2.0-litre turbocharged unit tugs the lightweight body along so that it gets to 60mph in less than five seconds. The gearbox is well matched, too, being usefully slick and helping to power along the car whether it's tackling twisty country lanes or just cruising on the motorway. You should still get around 30mpg overall, which is pretty good for a car that delivers almost supercar levels of handling and performance.
Hugely comfy, safe and great value. Ex-fleet and company cars that have seriously depreciated over the past few years make huge sense as a value family car. Vectras are at their most economical with the 2.0 DTi, which is able to deliver a decent 47.9mpg overall. For some, though, the best used buy for those not pounding up the motorway will be the 1.8 Elite. It is all the car you will ever need.
Vauxhall Astra VXR
Hot Hatches in the shape of the GTE and Sri were something Vauxhall did really well in the 1980s. Then they seemed to forget all about them, until the dramatic arrival of the Astra VXR. It’s a sports hatch with a 2.0 16v turbo engine that will help the car to hit 60mph in just 6.2sec and push it on to a supercar-bothering top speed of 152mph. Unlike a supercar, though, it will return 30.4mpg and it costs a lot less to buy.