The Vauxhall Signum often gets mixed up with the Vectra. It looks like a Vectra, but is seemingly bigger and posher. The Vauxhall Signum is an upgraded Vectra with a better comfort levels and a bigger boot. It’s only available as a hatch-back and it was a temporary measure that the factory used to fill in the gap that appeared when in 2003 they decided to scrap the flagship model, the Omega.
Visually, the Signum looks very similar to the Vectra. Its wheelbase was increased by 5 inches, a move that has healed the Vectra’s limited legroom in the rear seats. You’d expect that the car now offers a full-size cabin for 5 adults, however, it’s not the case. In order to emphasise its executive claim, the Signum has just two large seats at the back, hinting that it’s more of a business car than a family car. On a positive side, the rear end of the car is executed in an interesting manner. It looks different than the majority of other European estate cars.
The dashboard and interior design is similar to the Vectra. Although the car is quite substantially more expensive than its donor car, the interior, unfortunately, has remained dull and common. The only thing that makes the car look executive, is the improved comfort level at the back – other than that, the Signum could never compete with Audi or Mercedes even though it is cheaper than the most popular medium executive cars.
On par with its executive image, the car offers a good list of standard equipment. Even the entry level trim receives a cruise control, air conditioner, sat-nav, high-spec fog lights and a full package of electronics.
There’s a visible improvement in safety, compared to the Vectra - all modifications are equipped with the traditional driver and passenger airbags plus the extra curtain airbags running along the whole length of the cabin.
In 2005, the car received a facelift, it made its front end look better and apart from subtle cosmetic changes, it also included an improved chassis and upgraded interiors. The 3.2-litre V6 petrol unit was substituted by an improved 2.8-litre V6 engine.
The Signum can be found with 1.8-litre 120bhp, 2.2-litre 152bhp, 2.8-litre turbo 226bhp, 3.2-litre V6 208bhp petrol engines and 1.9-litre 147bhp, 2.2-litre 123bhp, 3.0-litre V6 181bhp diesel engines.
Both smaller petrol engines – the 1.8-litre and 2.2-litre units provide decent power and reasonable economy (around 35mpg both). For extra oomph, you might want to look at the V6 engines. The 3.2-litre engine is a truly remarkable power unit and it adds so much character to the otherwise bland image of the Signum. The V6 ensures you can accelerate to 60mph in less than 8 seconds, but it is also thirstier at will only manage 26mpg.
If you insist on a V6 but don’t want to spend so much money at a fuel pump, there’s a good common rail diesel engine accelerating the car to 60mph in 8.4 seconds. The mileage is much better than on the petrol V6 and you may achieve as much as 38mpg.
The most economical engine in the range is not the small diesel. It will consume approximately as much as the mammoth diesel V6. The 2.2-litre turbo diesel provides a good choice for average power and superb economy at 44mpg.
Although the car is so similar to the Vectra, once you sit by its wheel, you understand that the similarities end there. If the Signum ever was a Vectra, it is now considerably improved. The longer wheel base adds a feeling of volume, something that was missing in the Vectra. The Signum also features improved suspension which makes it a rather agreeable car. Gone is the excessive body roll and uneven road-holding. The body roll will increase with speed, but handling is certainly improved.
The steering wheel is height adjustable and within easy reach. The driver seat is very comfortable and easily adjustable. All the controls are simple and sensibly placed. It reminds me of a typical Japanese stately car, very comfortable and sensible, but quite boring… unless you choose one of the V6 engines, regardless of which one you go for, a diesel or a petrol version, a joyful ride is guaranteed.
As the Signum was mainly bought as a company car, there is a very limited supply in the used car market. It may suffer from Vectra-esque ailments, but as the car was built for the executive customer, it was assembled more carefully. So, if you’re looking for a Vectra with fewer problems, the Signum might be a good choice.
© 2013 WhichDeal Ltd