Thursday, September 12, 2013

Used Car Review - Opel Omega (1997-2002)

Want something luxurious with a touch of practicality? Myk Belmonte has one pick for you.

1997-2002 Opel Omega

If we study Greek again, the word 'Omega' is the 24th and last letter in the Greek alphabet. If we were to base the word in the numeric system, it has a value of 800. When it comes to its word meaning, it is translated literally as great O (mega means great). So, does it live up to its real meaning? Lets move on.

The second generation Omega was launched in April 1994 with a new range of engines (all new than the first generation model which ran from 1986 to 1993) but still with a choice of sedan or estate. There is an Omega V8 but that concept didn't come into fruition citing engine reliability problems when driven at high speeds for long periods. No successor was made after its 2003 discontinuation. It is sold worldwide under the badges of Chevrolet Omega (Brazil and South America), Cadillac Catera (North America), and Holden Commodore (Australia).

Together with the Vectra, the Omega made its Philippine debut in 1997. It may have a spot among buyers but the Benz and BMW proved to be more desirable plus the Japanese (Nissan, Toyota, Honda) sold more. The V6 engine was dropped in 2000 and three years later, the entire model was gone. Variants include the LS (4-cylinder) and CD (V6), both available in the sedan and wagon.

Value and Costs
Opels are not known for their stellar residuals, which makes them great used car buys. For just P150,000-P180,000, you get something luxurious without getting feared of kidnapped. It may not have the cachet of a three pointed star or a propeller, but it is something low profile.

As for the parts, well, there are numerous specialist and online shops that can take care of your needs. Taking care of one is fair enough but for the V6, it can be expensive. There are numerous problems but if you really want one, best to have them checked since driving home a problematic car is not worth the embarrassment. Reliability isn't a strong suit, so double check.

Exterior and Interior
Definitely not a vehicle that will stare heads. From front to middle, it possess some smooth lines and is well executed, sedan or wagon. As always, the back isn't something that would win any award. If I were to pick, the wagon (or estate) looks good.

Sitting in the low driver's seat will reward you an expansive sight of the outside world, but parking and maneuvering takes time to master. The center stack has its buttons situated closely to one another, which is dangerous while driving. Leather upholstery is standard across the board, same goes with a stop watch and a 60/40 folding rear seat (for the sedan) or a cargo cover with net (for the wagon). Five can fit inside comfortably.

As usual, two engines of different cylinders are options for this Opel. The first (and the common) one is the X20XEV 1,998cc 4-cylinder that carries 136hp at 5,600rpm and 192Nm at 3,200rpm. The cream of the crop is, of course, the X25XE 2,498cc V6 which has 170hp at 6,000rpm and 231Nm at 3,200rpm. If you think that the 4-cylinder is the better buy due to the small displacement (for fuel efficiency reasons), this engine is troublesome and performance isn't better due to the heavy body. This is why we pick the V6, which is available from 1997-2000. It is much better since it can propel the weight of the vehicle plus it is fast.

Driving Impressions
Since this is rear wheel drive, tossing one around the corners is a pleasurable experience (although not to BMW levels). There is some body roll although controllable and road bumps are absorbed by the suspension. It does not just pamper the passengers, it also entertains the driver.

The Omega is one vehicle that proves one can get the best of both worlds. Sedan or wagon, one gets a roomy interior and an enjoyable driving characteristics. If only this vehicle did not have any serious reliability problems to spoil the experience.

The Good: 
  • Practical wagon
  • Tons of room
  • Comfortable
The Bad:
  • Reliability problems
  • Buttons in the center are placed closely
  • You'll look ordinary with this
The Pick: V6

Engines: 1,998cc X20XEV I4 and 2,498cc X25XE V6 gasoline
Power: 136hp @ 5,600rpm (2.0), 170hp @ 6,000rpm (2.5 V6)
Torque: 192Nm @ 3,200rpm (2.0), 231Nm @ 3,200rpm (2.5 V6)
Fuel Consumption: 5-8km/L (city), 8-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P900,000-P1,100,000 (estimated, range from wagon and sedan and from 1997-2002)
Price (Now): P150,000-P180,000
Rivals: BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Mercedes Benz E Class, Volvo S80 (sedan rivals); Subaru Legacy, Opel Vectra wagon, Volvo V70 (wagon rivals)
On Sale: 1997-2002 (4-cylinder), 1997-2000 (V6)

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