Vectra is one of the most recognizable and established machines of European motoring. Debuting in 1988, the model has seen three editions and several facelifts.
Despite the passage of years, the Vectra is still going strong and does not leave the hearts of German car lovers. How has the Vectra’s shape and power changed over the decades?
The Opel Vectra is a mid-size family car designed and manufactured by the German automotive company Opel between 1988 and 2008. It is worth noting that the same car was sold under three different brand names: in Europe under the Opel Vectra banner, in the UK as the Vauxhall Cavalier, while in Latin America it was known as the Chevrolet Vectra.
The model was first unveiled in October 1988 as another face of the German company. Over two decades of production, the Vectra lived to see three incarnations. These were, successively, the Vectra A, B and C.
Although the exterior of the car has changed over the years, the character of the Vectra has remained unchanged and has delivered the best in family cars – reliability, spaciousness and comfort. This has ensured that despite the passage of time, the Vectra still enjoys considerable interest and enduring recognition in the eyes of German motoring enthusiasts. Notably, the Vectra was the direct heir to the Opel Ascona and the progenitor of a new design later known as the Insignia.
The first generation of the model received the designation “A”. Unveiled in late 1988, the 1989 model year was a four-door sedan. Soon after, a coupe designed on the basis of the Vectra joined the Opel range, which became known as the Calibra. Interestingly, both vehicles were designed by the corporation’s chief designer, Wayne Cherry.
Engine-wise, the Vectra A offered configurations ranging from a 1.4-liter gasoline generating 75 horsepower to a much more powerful 2.5 model with as much as 150 horsepower. In terms of styling, the Vectra A followed the typical trends of the early 1990s, which were dominated by the Japanese idea of motoring. Nevertheless, the Vectra A was an extremely modern looking car.
The second generation of the model was unveiled in October 1995 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Significantly, it was the first time the German brand offered a station wagon version to customers, reflecting the brand’s “one step ahead of the competition” philosophy at the time. The Vectra received a much-needed aesthetic overhaul that allowed Opel the freedom to enter a new era of motoring. It is fair to say that this was an extremely successful attempt, which resulted in an extraordinary explosion of popularity of the newest child of the concern.
Not without significance was the refreshed interior, which gave the vehicle a feeling of luxury. As with its predecessor, the Vectra B was available in a variety of engine versions that were further upgraded over the years. The face-lift turned out to be the turning point – it was then that the shift to 16-valve power units took place.
The Vectra B was at one time the middleweight champion and dominated world markets. However, the model was notorious for its mechanical problems, which were all too frequent.
The last generation debuted in March 2002. The car was built on the GM Epsilon I floorpan, which was also found in the likes of the Fiat Croma, Cadillac BLS, and Saab 9-3 II. After three years, the Vectra C underwent a facelift – this is when the headlights and bumper were changed. The performance of the gasoline engine was also improved from 122 to 140 horsepower.
The last generation has also seen a sports version prepared by the renowned Opel Performance Center. These examples are equipped with 2.8-liter engines with 280 horsepower.
At the 2008 London Motor Show, the German brand presented the heir to the Vectra model – the Opel Insignia. Thus, the cult Vectra went down in history.