Used Vauxhall Omega
Launched in 1994 the Omega in its Vauxhall and Opel versions was GM's attempt to take on the premium German marques like BMW and Audi. The last Omegas were sold in 2004 and throughout its life the car proved popular with fleet managers and with the boys in blue. It was a quality car with a mainstream badge and since the market still puts a lower value on the Vauxhall name a second hand Omega can offer excellent value if you can find a good one.
Bang for your buck
At launch the Vauxhall Omega was offered with four different petrol engines, 2.0 litres in both 8 and 16 valve forms, plus 2.5 and 3.0 litre V6s. There are also diesels, a 2.5 litre six (from BMW) and after 1998 a 2.0 litre four which was replaced by a 2.2 direct injection version in 1999.
Saloons and estates were offered, trim levels ranging from the sales rep's S through Select, GLS, CD and CDX up to the boss's Elite. A sporty MV6 was launched in 1998. In 1999 a facelift saw new nose and tail sections and a revised interior. In 2001 the 2.5 and 3.0 V6s were replaced by a 2.6 and a 3.2.
All used Vauxhall Omega cars for sale feel solid and well-built and are just as good as their German and Swedish rivals. It all comes down to whether you can live with the badge.
What you'll pay
An early 2.0 litre S from 1994 will set you back around £1,000. Expect to pay between £1,200 and £1,500 for a decent M-plate car. Estates will typically be between £100 and £500 more. The V6s are a bit unloved these days thanks to their thirst. You can pick up a top of the range 3.0 litre Elite for between £1,000 and £6,500 depending on age, history and condition.
Diesels are popular, an early 2.5 litre six commanding £1,500 and a late model 2.0 litre 16v about £3,800.
What to check
As we said at the start used Vauxhall Omega cars for sale were popular with fleets and the police when new so there will be some interstellar mileages about. This shouldn't necessarily put you off. In their early years they'll have been maintained regardless of expense. Check the car's history carefully and have a look to see if wear and tear on the trim supports the stated mileage. Catalytic converters can fail and they're expensive to replace so make sure the cat is working before you buy.
This is Vauxhall, remember? That means for the most part prices for spares are pretty realistic. A clutch assembly for example will set you back about £100, a new starter motor will cost somewhere in the region of £75. An alternator will be about £120 and a radiator £160. Expect to pay round about £20 for a set of front brake pads and maybe £50 for some rear shoes. Some bits are pricey, a catalysed exhaust system will cost £430 or so and it's £160 for a headlamp assembly.
How it drives
If you've never driven an Omega before prepare to be surprised. It really does behave like something from BMW or Audi. It has a well-developed, capable chassis with sharp steering and predictable handling. The Omega is particularly impressive on the motorway, fast, stable and capable of sustained high speeds – not for nothing was this a popular patrol car in its day.
Don't come away with the idea that this is some stiffly-sprung sportster though. The ride is impressive too remaining quiet and composed even over bumpy surfaces. Performance is more than adequate, even an entry level 2.0 litre will do 130mph and clock 0-60 in under ten seconds. A 3.0 litre V6 will get you to 60mph in 8.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 149mph. Drive like that and you'll suffer at the pumps though. Treat a 2.0 litre with reasonable restraint and you should manage 30mpg. This of course is where the diesels score, the 2.0 litre will do 124mph and the 0-60 dash in 12 seconds but treat it gently and you'll get close to 50mpg on a long journey.
If you can overcome your badge snobbery then a used Vauxhall Omega makes a sound choice that will make you feel just a little bit smug in front of your BMW owning friends.