A front wheel drive version was introduced in 1981. This model, along with the Opel's Ascona, the Australian Holden Camira, the Japanese Isuzu Aska and US Chevrolet Cavalier, was part of GM's family of medium sized 'J-Cars' In the UK, the new Cavalier was a success challenged the supremacy of the Ford Cortina, popular as a company car. This model was produced as a four-door saloon and five-door hatchback, although an estate version, based on the Holden Camira was also available. A convertible was also sold. For the first time, Vauxhall began exporting cars in left hand drive to other European countries, badged as Opels, which was a boost to GM's confidence in its once troubled British subsidiary. (When the Cavalier was first introduced in 1975, early models were in fact built at GM's plant in Belgium).
The last Cavalier was introduced in 1988, being Vauxhall's version of the Opel Vectra, again as a salon and hatchback. There was no estate version in the Opel line-up, and as the Vectra was not going to be sold in Australia, there was no prospect of Vauxhall turning to Holden for a replacement. The Cavalier name was dropped in favour of 'Vectra' in 1995.