New Opel Vectra For The Self-Made Man

Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
To those who have been keeping a keen eye on General Motors India (GMI), the name Vectra should not sound unfamiliar. After all, for almost one year, we have been hearing that the Opel Vectra was due to arrive in India. Well, the Opel Vectra has finally arrived, the latest entrant in the D-segment, through the CBU route.

We deliberately delayed the launch of the Vectra in India as we wanted to bring in the latest technology, said GMI president and managing director Aditya Vij at the launch of the car. Though it was supposed to be launched last year, we have waited till this year so as to coincide with the worldwide launch of the latest version. Mr Vij adds, India is the next market, after Japan, where this car has been introduced. Even some key markets such as Australia havent seen the new Vectra yet!

Now the question is, has the wait been worth it Yes, says automotive expert Murad Ali Baig promptly. I had the chance of driving this car in Germany a week ago and one should say that this is a good car.

Had GMI rushed to launch the old Vectra model last year, it would not have been able to do well and would have lost out in the competition, he adds. It was the right decision to wait for the latest, despite losing out on a few months, says Mr Baig. Being the latest means that it is the best at least for a temporary period till the next one comes.

What does being the latest bestow upon the Opel Vectra Technology, as mentioned earlier, is the answer. The interactive driving system (IDS) is being offered for the first time in India, claims Mr Vij. For the layman, IDS means a driving system wherein there is interaction of the driver with the components of the car. This system combines the improved control and safety functions of the the individual chassis components, thereby resulting in a new set of standards in dynamics, control and safety. The map-controlled electrohydraulic steering provides steering assistance according to the steer angle and the speed of the vehicle. With over 30 sensors monitoring every aspect of driving, the new Vectra, which is built on a completely new platform, is indeed a technological revelation.

Another talking point of the new Vectra is its engine. The 147 bhp, 2.2 litre petrol engine has the capacity to accelerate from 0-100 kmph in 10.2 seconds (under standard test conditions). It has the ability to hit a top speed of 216 kmph. Belonging to the ECOTEC family, the engine is Euro 4 compliant, with a catalytic converter near the engine, optimised exhaust gas re-circulation and a four-valve technology. We will also be coming out with a diesel variant soon, reveals Mr Vij.

The other key features of GMIs latest offering are

Improved, active head restraints on the front seats; the height of the restraints can be adjusted for all seats

Full-size front and side airbags in the front

Three point automatic belts for all seats, belt tensioners on the four outer seats

Opels patented pedal release system, which releases the brake and clutch automatically during severe impact to protect the driver from foot and lower leg injuries

Electronically controlled, latest generation, four-channel, anti-braking system

An advanced traction control system.

So far its all impressive. Now the key question: How does the new Vectra hope to fare in the Indian market Where D-segment cars are concerned, it is not the volume that is important. It is more of a prestige issue for car manufacturers to belong to a particular class, cautions Mr Baig before getting into the issue of the new Vectras potential in India. His caution stems from the fact that GMI did not disclose the price of the car at the launch.

We will definitely price it competitively, insists vice-president, Marketing, Sales and After-Sales, GMI, Vinay Dixit. We will announce the price when we roll out the first batch of cars in the third week of December. Mr Dixit also informs us that GMI is targeting those high achievers who have made it to the top on their own as the new Vectras potential customers.

Competitive pricing is indeed the key that will decide how much space the Opel Vectra can create for itself in Indias already crowded D-segment market. As Mr Baig puts it, If you look at the cars that are doing well in this segment, such as the Skoda and the Sonata, you will find that they are priced strategically while offering the best of facilities at the same time. In any case, today, all the luxury cars are good. They offer almost the same comforts, but the question is how they are priced, he reasons. We will have to wait till they announce the price, he says finally.