Vauxhall Cavalier (1988 – 1995) Review

Vauxhall Cavalier (1988 – 1995) At A Glance


+Tough engines, sturdy interiors, great driving position, huge nostalgia factor - as long as it's a nice example

-Ride and handling have not stood the test of time

The 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 was designed to be the best of both worlds – aerodynamic like a Ford Sierra, but bristling with Mk2 front-wheel drive appeal. Slightly larger than its predecessor and much curvier looking, the new Cavalier went head-to-head not only with cars such as the Sierra, but also the sleek new Ryton-built Peugeot 405 and the Washington-made Nissan Bluebird, which was racking up some impressive sales figures. Advertising for the new Cavalier was everywhere from magazines to television. The latter used a cover version of Derek & The Dominos’ track Layla, with the tagline ‘Once Driven Forever Smitten’.

The new Cavalier, though, was underpinned by engineering lifted from its predecessor. But it proved to be a much more finely-honed product. There was evidence of real engineering prowess and impressive safety features right across the range. Where the Mk2 always had a feeling of lightness and cost cutting in its build, the Mk3 was a solid machine made with high quality materials. It sported a good-looking functional padded dashboard, and you instantly knew this car was screwed together well. Available in a wide variety of engines - 1.4-, 1.6-, 1.8-, and 2.0-litre four-cylinders, as well as the brilliant C20XE (in the GSi2000). You could also buy it in 2.5-litre V6 form, and with a  1.7-litre turbodiesel. Such was the Mk3s popularity and solidity, they remain relatively plentiful into the 2010s, with a growing following.