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Vauxhall Calibra (1989 - 1998)

Last updated 4 August 2016

 
4
Cavalier in a sharp-looking designer suit, practical four-seat coupe with some good engines and a decent-sized boot
Short of front-end grip, poor rear visibility, bulkhead can crack around the steering rack mountings

Introduction

The Vauxhall Calibra doesn’t possess the greatest dynamics, and the best of the lot was probably the mid-range 2.0-litre 16-valve version. It also picked up an unfortunate reputation for attracting the ‘wrong’ type of buyer in the last decade – before disappearing rapidly from the streets, once Corsa drivers realised the Calibra’s brilliant XE ‘red top’ engine fitted under the bonnet. But that aside, it’s easy to forget just how popular the Calibra was in its day.

When it appeared on the scene, the Calibra hit the market running, riding on the back of the Cavalier’s success, and just like the Mazda MX-5, it revolutionised the market sector it competed in. The Calibra was great-looking, but it also boasted a ground-breaking drag co-efficient of 0.26 and that meant that even the weediest 115bhp model could crack 130mph on long straights. Important for its intended buyers. Later V6s proved to be a formidable cruiser, too. But the Calibra was also practical – with a hatchback and large boot, and roomy interior – and that meant it could also star on company car lists… It might not have been the best, but it was certainly the most important offering of its era. Buy one now, while they’re in the gutter.

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