That's a bit sexy, isn't it? Then again, it is French and when they go all out and pen a concept car they normally don't mess about. There's something in the French blood, there just has to be. No one else makes concepts quite like the French do - they try, granted, but the other manufacturers just fail. The phrase je ne sais quoi really has never been so apt because we really don't know what it is when it comes to French style. All we know is that it's out there, making other cars look rubbish. Strangely though, over here in Blighty that French eccentricity has been ignored, forcing the road-car spawned by the above concept to fall into the realms of the unloved, unknown and unappreciated. Until now, that is!
Okay, so it's lacking a bit of the concept's 'oof' factor, but it's not half bad. No, you put that eyebrow down, stop being so bloody conservative, this car is funky, fun, stylish and different. Nobody has ever said "Wow, I love your Vectra, please make frantic love to me right this instant." No one. We can't confirm if this has happened to Vel Satis owners either, but the chance of it happening is significantly higher, we know that!
Just look at it, it's fan-bloody-tastic. It makes your brain do a wobble when you think that the same country that spawned this beauty also made the Peugeot 405, so try not to. Instead focus on the charming eccentricity of the Vel Satis, the bravery of its design, the odd curve of its pronounced rump, the sticky-uppy tall headlight arrangement - just enjoy all it has to offer. Cars should be an extension of yourself and your personality, so if you drive a Volvo 440 you're in trouble. Buy one of these though and people will think you drink fine wine while engaging people with hilarious anecdotes of that time you were in Stockholm with Serge. They'll think you're stylish and in tune with modern trends, they'll think you're funky, brave and exciting and that's nice. The fact that in reality you eat Spam sarnies and watch Red Dwarf while wearing your 'Superted' pants isn't a fact you need to share. We don't do that by the way, honest, er, MOVING ON!
Now we know what you're thinking (you want a Spam sarnie, don't you?), you're thinking that it's all very well us waxing lyrical about the Vel Satis, but in reality it's probably all style and no substance, right? Well, you're wrong. In fact, the Vel Satis was a damn good car under all those unconventional curves. Based on the Laguna and Espace, it was more than capable although the ride was considered to be a bit harsh by some standards. In reality though, it's not a ride you'd struggle to live with, merely one that maybe could have been a bit better.
Engine wise there was a 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged 2.0-litre, a Nissan 24-valve, 3.5-litre V6 (not really sure how that happened), a 4-cylinder, 16-valve, 2.2-litre direct-injection turbodiesel and also an Isuzu 24-valve 3.0-litre direct-injection turbodiesel, though we wouldn't bother with the last one. It's a bit of a taxi-engine. Something for all markets really, well, all markets happy with a car over 2.0 that is.
Inside was awash with (if you got a high-end one) leather and pseudo wood as well as electronic things which would eventually expire for no rational reason (it's the French way). There's a sea of light spilling into the Vel Satis too, thanks to the huge expanse of glass, though the C-pillar is a bit of chunky number but that doesn't matter too much with that curved rear window. It's just a nice, albeit very French place to be.
Okay, look we get it. You're not convinced are you? Well, allow us to show you this car's party piece...
Yup, she's a tough old bird. A EuroNCAP five star tough old bird actually, making this car one of the toughest and safest you can buy. For under £2000? Well, it might just be THE safest car you can buy and lets face it, why should the safety of you and your family have to suffer because of your budget?
It might not be for everyone, and it might be a little bit too quirky for some but if you ask us the Vel Satis is a great looking car with a lot going for it, especially the fact that you can get an 8 year-old example for under £2k! It's modern, it's funky and it's cheap - all solid and 'must have' credentials for a Not £2 Grand candidate. And lets face it, the French have brought some good things into our lives like fine wine, tasty cheese, Boursin, stripes, sexy accents and of course...
The Vel Satis is dead now, killed off by poor sales and a general lack of love, and that's wrong. We should celebrate it, so buy one, enjoy it and come the first time you find the words "Vel Satis" rolling off your tongue bringing with them a smug smile, rather than "Vectra" which will only make you cry, you can thank us.
Driving and staying safe needn't be hum-drum - buy a Vel Satis and turn some heads!