Brief test: Vauxhall Vectra Estate (2000 model).

The load lugging version of Vauxhall's family car can do a good job of moving your goods and chattels from place to place. It's not so good at doing the same with people.

Inside, the car is modern but bland. Everything is there and it works but there are a few problem areas. Tuning the radio to the desired station was not impossible but it was unreasonably hard. Quite simply, finding a new station on this radio is not possible while you are driving unless you are prepared to take risks with your safety. The other thing that let the car down inside was the seating. After a long drive, I was uncomfortable.

Loading the car up with a range of objects is easy. The load area is large and well shaped and the opening at the back is wide and deep. All very practical. The car is good at carrying a load on the road too. The car was not slowed as much by a heavy load as others in its class. This was not just the result of brute power, the car was also able to make good use of the contents of its fuel tank and could easily exceed 500km on a tankful.

Another thing that I liked about this car was the balance of ride and handling with both full and minimum loads. Often, estate cars are set up for one load condition only and when running unladen, many estate cars ride and handle very differently from when they are full of people and luggage. The Vectra was not like this. It was adequate and consistent in road behaviour at all load levels that I tried.

Would I buy one? If I needed to carry large loads over shorter distances, I'd very tempted but normally, if I have a load to carry, I have to take it a long way and this car is not comfortable for me.

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