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Exclusive: Vauxhall to kill-off Vectra

Date: 08 December 2006   |   Author: Guy Bird

Vauxhall is dropping the "Vectra" moniker from its crucial next upper medium car due in mid-2008. The new name - although yet to be confirmed - is hotly tipped by insiders to be "Insignia", after the 2003 luxury concept car of the same name.

Talking informally on the eve of the Bologna Motor show this week, Carl-Peter Forster, president of Vauxhall's parent company General Motors Europe, told BusinessCar the all-new car would be "a radical departure" from the current model and that the Vectra name would be dropped to reflect this change.

As to what shape that "radical departure" would take - Forster remained elusive - but when it was suggested it might be heading towards the look of the swooping rear roofline of the 'four-door coupe' Mercedes CLS, he gave a knowing smile and "wait and see" response. That type of profile would be in keeping with the 2003 Insignia concept and also Forster's thinking that cars that don't try to please everyone - like the striking but space- and vision-compromised Astra three-door Sport Hatch - are often very successful with customers who now value design above all other buying criteria.

The Vectra replacement will feature the new 180PS 1.6 turbo petrol - just announced for the face-lifted Astra on sale next February - plus the 140PS 1.8 VVT petrol, a new circa 200PS V6 diesel and potentially a 170PS 1.9-litre diesel above the existing 120 and 150PS versions.

Another reason for the name change is because - for many - the current one carried "too much negative baggage". While Glass's senior car editor Jeff Paterson acknowledged that a name change could help the car's future residual values, he felt Vauxhall's brand perception was a bigger problem than any one model. "It's more a Vauxhall problem than model problem. They're going to have to do a lot more than change one model in the range. The current Vectra hasn't set the world on fire and is swimming against a very strong tide. The next one will have to be leaps and bounds ahead of the old one."

A strong hint of what the new car will look like will be unveiled at the Geneva motorshow in late February 2007 with the final production vehicle shown in Geneva 2008 followed by a mid-2008 on sale date.