The Opel Vectra is a large family car that was engineered and produced by Opel. In the United Kingdom, the car was sold under the Vauxhall marque as the Vauxhall Cavalier and later as the Vauxhall Vectra, from 1995 onwards. It has also been sold by Holden in Australasia as Holden Vectra, and by Chevrolet in Latin America as the Chevrolet Vectra.
The Vectra was introduced in 1988 as a replacement to the Opel Ascona and itself was replaced in 2008 by the Opel Insignia, the nameplate spanning twenty years and three generations of car.
The first generation Vectra, known as the Vectra A, was introduced in October 1988 as a saloon and hatchback, replacing the Opel Ascona C. A coupé based on the Vectra, called the Calibra, was introduced the following year. Both cars were designed by the Opel design chief at the time, Wayne Cherry. Vauxhall Motors, the British GM subsidiary that shared most of its models with Opel, did not use the "Vectra" model name until Vauxhall introduced the name into the UK in 1995. The 1989 Vectra came in Base, LS, GL, GLS, CD, and GT models, it's sister model was the third generation Cavalier.
Engines ranged initially from a 75 PS (55 kW) 1.4 L to a 130 PS (96 kW) 2.0 L Family II. With the introduction of Euro I emissions regulations, the base model was replaced by a 1.6 L with the same output, while the top of the line was given to a 16-valve version of the 2.0 L engine, which powered the GT (GSI) version, and had 150 PS (110 kW). Four-wheel drive versions were added to the lineup in 1990, and in 1993, the car received a limited edition turbocharged version, with 204 PS (150 kW). The 1.4-litre engine was not available in all markets, and even then, it was only available in basic trims (Base/L in United Kingdom, LS/GL in Europe). A 2.5 L V6 engine appeared towards the later stages of the Vectra's life, developing 170 PS (125 kW), turning the car into a relaxed motorway cruiser rather than give it sporty pretensions.
There were a choice of two diesel engines; one was an Isuzu 1.7 L 4EE1 inline-four unit, in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged form (1,686 cc), this one capable of achieving 82 PS (60 kW), and an Opel designed 1.7 "low blow" turbodiesel (1,699 cc), and naturally aspirated diesel unit, delivering up to 68 PS (50 kW; 67 hp). Both units have a reputation for longevity, especially Isuzu developed units, which were also regarded as some of the most refined diesels available at the time.
The front suspension was fully independent, with MacPherson struts, pressed steel lower control arms, and an anti-roll bar. The front suspension, together with the major mechanicals (engine and transmission) is remotely mounted on a front subframe. On front wheel drive models, the rear suspension is semi-independent, consisting of a torsion beam axle linked to trailing arms, with double conical coil springs and direct acting telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers, with certain models also having an anti-roll bar. On the four wheel drive GSi, 4x4 and Turbo models, the rear suspension is a subframe-mounted fully independent design, with semi-trailing arms, double conical coil springs, direct acting gas-assisted telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. Steering gear is a rack and pinion type (manual or power assisted, depending on model), mounted on the bulkhead (firewall), with a telescopically deformable steering column.
The Vectra also received a refresh in 1992. The range received new front grilles and a black plastic strip above the rear tail lights, along with an upgrade to the structure for improved crashworthiness. Airbags became available from 1993 onward.
The Vectra gave birth to a coupé version, the Opel Calibra, which shared the Vectra's platform, gearbox and several engines.
In New Zealand, the Vectra A was offered initially as an Opel, but it wore Holden badges from 1994. It was not sold in Australia, where Holden instead offered a rebadged Toyota Camry called Apollo until 1997.
In Brazil, the Chevrolet-badged Vectra A was not introduced until 1993, when it replaced the Chevrolet Monza, a restyled version of the Ascona C.
In Egypt, the Opel Vectra A was not introduced until 1994 through GM Egypt Dealerships, and started production in late 1994 by GM Egypt through early 1996 with a range of 1.6 GL, 2.0 GL trim and 2.0 GLS trim and only Saloon body style boosting strong sales during this short run.