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This year Vauxhall have launched brand-new Insiginia models, the Grand Sport, GSi, Country Tourer and Sports Tourer, we take a look at the Griffin's family-car journey from 1975 to the Present-day.

In November 2017, Vauxhall are set to host a showcase of old Vauxhall cars at the Lancaster Classic Motor Show in the NEC. As Vauxhall celebrates their heritage and the Insignia Grand Sport receives the Scottish Car Award for 'Family Car of the Year 2017', we take a moment to appreciate the success stories of the famous marque following Vauxhall's history as a manufacturer of family cars.

Cavalier Mk I

1975 - 1981

It was way back in 1975 when the 'droop-snout' of the Cavalier first appeared on the horizon. Based largely upon the Opel Ascona, the first British-built model rolled off the production line in Luton, in 1977.

The Cavalier offered an affordable family saloon to larger families. But was pitched as an ideal fleet vehicle due to company cars being taxed at a lower rate. This saw a huge increase in the number of cars sold, with Cavalier quickly becoming the second most popular car in Britain.

The modern front-wheel-drive layout of the Cavalier lent it to expansion into a coupe, hatchback and estate version. The Mark I was available in the following trims: L, LS, GL, GLS.

Building upon their expansion and success, Vauxhall launched the Mk II in 1981. With more pleasing lines than its predecessor, the Cavalier gained popularity amongst Sales Execs enjoying the booming economy. Popular with company accountants for its improved fuel economy, sales continued to soar with sales topping 100,000 in 1982.



Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1

Cavalier Mk II

1981 - 1988

The new model was made available as 5-door hatchback making it an attractive family car due its versatile practicality. This release came with the choice of 1.3 or 1.6 L engines adapted from the smaller Astra. What captured the imagination of consumers was the release of a 1.8 L engine with electronic fuel-injection. The booming economy made it possible for consumers to buy a higher spec, practical family car.

A new 2.0L engine option became available on CD, SRi and GLS trim and to reflect buying habits, the 1.8 fuel-injection option was extended to include the lowest L trim range. The Cavalier was further improved when it was given an eye-catching sports trim and powerful 2.0-Litre engine. The Vauxhall Cavalier Sri130 produced 130bhp, a real enthusiast's car, the SRi could easily exceed 120 mph. The success of this classic Vauxhall is borne out in its continuing popularity and value almost thirty years later, as a collector's item.

The Gen. 2 Cavalier was made available in multiple trim levels as well as Special Edition models: including the Commander and Calibra.


Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 SRi

Cavalier Mk III

1988 - 1995

Cavalier's final incarnation came in 1988 with the release of the Mark III. Fully embracing their droop-snout name, Vauxhall took the angles out of their awkward second child and rounded the edges. The new sweeping lines and long bonnet made for a very elegant saloon and hatchback.

The Cavalier Mk III was so popular that in 1990 it was the second-most sold car in the UK with sales of over 110,000. Added to the standard-sized petrol engines was a far more economical 1.4-litre alternative. An exciting development was the creation of a 2.0L 16v engine, better known as the "red top" or XE. This was originally fitted to the GSi 2000 and later installed into the SRi. Further improvements were made with 4-WD fitted to the 2.0iL model and a GSi 2000 model.

The popular Mark III spawned a hybrid coupe, the Vauxhall Calibra. Shaved down to make it more aero-dynamic, the Calibra was incredibly popular as a mid-priced performance sports car, had a drag coefficient 0.26 and held the record for 10 years.

The makeover release of Autumn 1992 accommodated changes in highway safety regulations, with the inclusion of airbags and anti-lock brakes. The body design was improved with a toughened safety cage, side impact beams and front seatbelt pretensioners.

The Mk III's facelift also included a new-look grille. The griffin badge was placed at the centre, with the grille flaring at the sides in a subtle 'V'. Headlights, rear lights and bumper mouldings created a more streamlined look.

Extra sound insulation was added to interior panelling, making the Cavalier an extremely comfortable car to drive. In late 1994, the new 2.0L Ecotec engine replaced the previous 16V XE engine, with a reduced power output of 136bhp.

This paved the way for an almost seamless introduction of the Vectra, the Cavalier's long-awaited replacement. General Motors had decided against using the Vectra name earlier, to avoid confusion with their previous Victor model. Therefore, Opel's Mk III model was named Vectra, whereas Vauxhall held on to the Cavalier name for one more generation.

In 1996 General Motors finally phased out the old Cavalier name, having used Opel's chassis for the Cavalier for its final version.


Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3

Vectra B

1995 - 2002

The Vauxhall Vectra became available in Britain in August 1995, meaning that there was a year's overlap before the phasing out of the old Vauxhall Cavalier Mk III. The Vectra B was unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995.

The Vectra B was the last new model to be produced at the Luton factory, production switching to Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Initially continuing solely as a producer of commercial vehicles, all production at the Luton plant ceased in March 2004.

The Vectra B was visually very similar to the Cavalier MK III, being effectively a Mk IV. However, later models were chunkier in design.

Engines started from the 75 bhp 1.6 L, eventually all of the 8v were replaced by 16v engines. The 2.0L engine, with 136bhp was developed as a basis for touring car racing. The top of the line was a 2.5 L V6 producing 170bhp. Isuzu's 1.7-L diesel engine produced 82bhp Whereas the petrol options included a 2.0 L Ecotec with 82 bhp or 101 bhp and a 2.2 L Ecotec with 125bhp. In 2001, the all-new 2.2 L petrol engine was eventually carried over to the Vectra C.

The Vectra B received a makeover in February 1999, with the primary difference being single-piece headlight units, instead of the separate indicator units. The design of the headlamps was continually adapted, having more accentuated corners with each new model. This release also featured body-coloured bumpers, a trend reflected across many manufacturers cars over this period.


Vauxhall Vectra B

Vectra C

2002 - 2008

The Vectra C was unveiled at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show. Initially only available as a saloon, the hatchback was launched the following year along with the estate, featuring an elongated wheelbase.

Sharing this same 2,830mm chassis, an executive hatchback was produced under the nameplate, Opel/Vauxhall Signum. This model was a descendant of the earlier Vauxhall Carlton. The front end remained similar in design to the Vectra upon which it was based. However, the rear end was completely re-styled for the Signum.

Following the trend towards a cleaner front end, a chrome grille surround complemented the overall appearance of the newer Vectra, the central design, a line of chrome was intersected by a 'V' into the centre of which was placed the Griffin badge.

The engine range was substantially modified to deal with the increased curb weight of the Vectra C. The 1.8 litre Ecotec engine was reserved exclusively for the base model. The main petrol engine was the Ecotec 2.2 litre powerplant producing 145bhp. Vauxhall strove further in line with their Touring Car advancements to include a new range topping 3.2 litre V6, producing an impressive 208bhp. Diesel engines were increasingly popular in Europe and so an engine was developed with Isuzu, the 3.0 litre DMAX V6.

In October 2004, the four-cylinder diesel engine was replaced with a 1.9 litre Ecotec CDTI engine. The new economical engine was capable of producing 119bhp in 8v and 148bhp in 16v form. Handling was also vastly improved compared to the previous model.

Increasing restrictions placed upon the auto industry by the EU saw the introduction of Carbon Emissions rules. Whilst this meant that mainstream cars needed to produce less CO2 g/km, there was still a market for super-tuned performance cars.

These were constantly being modified for the British Touring Car Championships. This dauntless pursuit of more horsepower ultimately resulted in the creation of VXR. Produced by the Opel Performance Centre, the VXR range was an optimised option, characterised by new sporty trim, low spoiler and highly-tuned High Feature engine.

In January 2007, the estate version of the Vectra was awarded Estate Car of the Year, by What Car? Magazine. The adaptation and flexibility of this model helped it accommodate a large sector of the market for much of the 90s and into the new millennium. Production of the Vectra C and Signum ended in July 2008.

Vauxhall Vectra C

Insignia First Generation

2008 - 2017

The launch of the Insignia took place at the British International Motor Show in London on 23 July 2008 with much fanfare. Insignia was very much a new chapter for Vauxhall and their family car. With the phasing out of their larger executive hatchbacks, Insignia was created in such a way to occupy the void left by both the Vectra and the Carlton/Signum.

In 2009, a new range of ecoFLEX diesel engine was unveiled. Offering the same amount of power, but less CO2 g/km and fuel consumption it was a popular choice with domestic consumers and fleets alike.

The Insignia's chassis was long but was more its proportions were more in keeping with the Cavalier than the Vectra and therefore more aesthetically pleasing. A sleeker look to the rear was achieved by the use of diamond-shaped rear lights and chrome detailing to break up the shape of the tailgate.

Insignia was the first model to be simultaneously launched by Opel and Vauxhall. Dispensing with the characteristic 'V' grille, the Vauxhall Insignia returned to horizontal bars, this time in chrome. The side windows were also framed in chrome giving a premium look to this new model.

Insignia was available in four petrol engine options up to 2.8-litre, three 2.0-litre diesel options were also available. The new model featured many improved safety features including Adaptive Forward Lighting - with bi-xenon, gas discharge headlamps. The Advanced Front-Lighting System (AFS) and static cornering light were complemented by daytime running lights with LEDs. Sensors and software monitor the road conditions and weather so that the system can activate the appropriate lighting function, where necessary.

Insignia offers 30mm more leg room than the Vectra. The saloon and hatchback variants are same length and width with the estate version being slightly longer, though on the same width wheelbase.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Insignia Second Generation

2017 and beyond

2017 has seen the launch of a new generation of Insignia with the introduction of Grand Sport. Grand Sport has a sportier version the GSi and the more practical Country Tourer has been updated with the addition of a Sports Tourer, combining sporty looks with a practical al-rounder.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

2017

After a long wait, the Insignia was re-launched as the Grand Sport at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017. The removal of the chrome bars from the grille arrangement marks a return to the 'V' design. However, this time the effect is subtle, with the two arms of the 'V' outstretched like wings held aloft.

The Insignia Grand Sport is Vauxhall's Flagship car, come-of-age. With new chiselled features, Grand Sport is at once imposing and impressive. The bodywork creases and chamfered corners enable the Grand Sport to scythe through the air with incredible efficiency.

Boasting a drag co-efficient of 0.26 (equivalent to the Calibra) the Grand Sport has evidently been shredding in the gym and this newest version of Insignia is leaner and meaner than ever before.

Engines within the all-new Grand Sport Insignia are mostly carried over from the previous Insignia and are tried and tested. With three petrol and three diesel units there are plenty of options available.

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport GSi

2017

For the higher spec enthusiast, the GSi badge makes a welcome return in the form of the new Insignia Grand Sport GSi. Offering 8-speed automatic transmission and full leather seats this is a true executive hatch. Due to the 260bhp, Brembo brakes have also been installed as standard.

GSi is much more than just a badge, shedding a further 160kg over the standard Grand Sport and out-punches the previous generation VXR for sheer power and thrust.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

2017

The new Insignia Sports Tourer is the latest estate version of the Insignia. Taking the new-look shape from the recently released Grand Sport, the Sports Tourer is a sporty, practical family car. By increasing the distance between the front and rear wheels, Vauxhall have created an expansive cabin, extra legroom makes for a comfortable ride for all.

All models come with a stack of standard technology: 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, keyless entry and ignition, seven-inch touchscreen multimedia system, Bluetooth phone connectivity plus Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Vauxhall OnStar assistance.

For fetching the offspring from University, seats drop to create a massive 1,665-litre boot. With rear seats upright boot capacity is still a very generous 560-litres.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

2017

This popular rugged estate car is the first in a new line of next generation Insignia cars. Boasting all of the current technology it was relaunched in Summer 2017.

Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

Building upon 40 years of Vauxhall history building successive popular family cars, Vauxhall have taken their experience and used it to create the most comfortable family car they have ever made.

Partnering with Vauxhall, Evans Halshaw have all three models of the Insignia in their dealerships available for you to test drive.

Browse the new Vauxhall Insignia range

Visit any of our 32 dealerships across the UK to view and test drive the new Insignia.

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