Vauxhall Antara 2.0 CDTi SE

January 2008

picture of car from the front

The Antara is Vauxhall's first 4x4 since the Frontera

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Spacious, family friendly interior
  • Accomplished intelligent four-wheel drive system
  • Excellent driving position
  • Comfortable and very well equipped

Gripes

  • Manual gearbox would benefit from and extra gear
  • Turbo diesel engine can be slow to pick up
  • Wind noise increases noticeably at motorway speed
  • Small rear window makes it easy to lose sight of following traffic

The Antara is Vauxhall's first entry into the SUV market since the Frontera ceased production early in the century. The part-time four-wheel drive model is intended to lure drivers of larger SUV's into downsizing with a combination of high specification, strong build quality and modern, dynamic styling. As a result, it aims to be a classier product than the Frontera that preceded it.

Vauxhall does not have a great deal of history in the 4x4 or SUV market, and in recent years has not had an SUV contender of any sort available in its line-up. The last Vauxhall badged SUV was the Frontera model, production of which ended in 2003. The capable and rugged model sold well, but would seem outdated if placed alongside the current collection of SUVs, soft-roaders and crossovers available from most manufacturers.

The Antara is a different proposition altogether. Smaller than a premium SUV but larger than some soft-roaders, the model is designed as a comfortable sub-premium family car that's capable in a mild off-road situation, but more at home on the road and in an urban environment. A raised driving position gives and advantage behind the wheel and around town, but the driving experience has been tuned to be more like that of a car than a 4x4.

The Antara's part-time four-wheel drive system uses feedback from the ABS, traction control and ESP to detect when torque is required at the rear of the vehicle and applies it using an electro-hydraulic coupling in the rear differential. The use of a part time system helps improve fuel economy and offers more familiar driving characteristics, but the system steps in seamlessly when required to offer additional assistance. A hill decent system also adds to the Antara's humble off road abilities.

Vauxhall expects 90 per cent of Antara sales to be diesel models and as such only the base trim level can be specified with the 2.4-litre petrol engine. In another nod towards the premium sector, Vauxhall has taken the step of offering an automatic box with the diesel engine in place of the five speed manual; an option few models in the Antara's price bracket have.

Our verdict on the Vauxhall Antara 2.0 CDTi SE

Strong competition in the SUV sector meant Vauxhall could pull no punches with the Antara, and the model has lived up to its brief comfortably. A high level of quality is present across the range, with the top of the line model boasting the toys and gadgets required to tempt premium SUV drivers out of their larger vehicles. Its practical, tractable nature makes it a fine choice as a family car.

Costs
Costs rating 7

A middling insurance group even for the top spec SE means the Antara should be reasonable to cover. Asking prices are comparable with the opposition, although the addition spec does come at a premium. The diesel engine lowers running costs compared with the petrol unit, but the heavy vehicle makes it hard to achieve the quoted figures under everyday day driving conditions.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

The Antara's interior immediately gives a sense of being generously proportioned, even though the platform is no larger than a family estate. Neither front nor rear passengers will struggle for space and the rear bench can seat three adults. With the seats folded flat, there's a large amount of room for transporting bulky goods. Storage facilities are excellent too, combining with the model's off-road potential to make a very practical and versatile vehicle.

picture of car from the rear

The rising window line is a trademark of modern Vauxhalls

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The SE benefits from a myriad of automated systems but the controls are well laid out for manual use. The large colour screen in the SE is clear and concise with easy to navigate menus and the pedals are nicely weighted. The steering can feel a little remote at times and the manual gearbox can be notchy and reluctant until the car has warmed up.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

The Antara is extremely comfortable both in terms of its general layout and the level of toys available. The SE's heated seats, climate control, leather, automatic wipers, lights and dipping mirrors really take the strain out of driving. Even the lesser spec models are well equipped with comfort enhancing options.

Car security
Security Rating 8

Remote deadlocking and an immobiliser are standard features in the Antara and it also benefits from headlights that both stay illuminated after the car is locked and switch on as it is unlocked. An ultrasonic alarm warns of intruders while prying eyes are kept out of the boot by a retractable cover.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Four-wheel drive comes with its own obvious benefits, but the fact that the Antara operates in two-wheel drive mode for the majority of the time means it offers safe and predictable handling. The hill descent system can also prevent off-road accidents while for on-road, ABS, traction control and ESP are all present. The SE feature a tyre pressure monitoring system and a full compliment of airbags is included across the range, as are brake lights that flash while the ABS is activated.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

The diesel engine is naturally more efficient than the petrol unit, but can be peaky and slow to respond if rushed. At cruising speed the five-speed manual box allows the engine to rev higher than desired. The Antara's stable and enjoyable ride largely make up for these shortfalls however, and the four-wheel drive system goes about its work smoothly and largely unnoticed. Steering and pedals are light, and the model is in no way tiring to drive.

picture of car interior

The Antara interior is spacious and well equipped

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 9

Families will love the Antara for its practicality, spaciousness and versatility. The quality interior with lots of storage will cope with children effortlessly and the diesel engine makes it relatively economical.

First car appeal
First car Rating 4

The Antara is too bulky and probably too expensive to make a sensible first car choice. Although the lofty driving position might benefit the inexperienced driver, the model's size means it requires a degree of confidence to manoeuvre in an urban environment and tight situations.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

The Antara is built to a high standard and it's not hard to see why Vauxhall believes premium SUV drivers will feel they can downsize without being short-changed. Fit and finish is excellent as is choice of materials. The consumer appetite for SUVs does not appear to be waning, which means the Antara has plenty of kerb presence and appeal even if the Vauxhall badge is not always the most sought after.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Five large doors and a sensible ride height mean it's possible to step straight into the Antara without climbing up or falling in. The lack of a transmission tunnel bulge in the rear makes entry easy from either side, too.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The range topping Antara SE comes with a colour screen for the DVD-based sat-nav system, but it's also used to navigate the audio menus. The rotating dial system is simple and effective once mastered and quick-buttons for returning to the main menus or selecting CDs from the six-disc changer are useful. Bluetooth and MP3 compatibility are handy and the sound quality is extremely good, even if the system in the test car refused to return the final CD.

picture of car in detail

The vast majority of sales are expected to be diesels

Colours and trim

The choice of exterior colours for the Antara is quite subdued. Of the five, standard Pearl White and pearlescent Granite Black are the most showy. In between are metallic Tungsten, Nickel Silver and Slate Blue. Charcoal interiors are the only option unless opting for the leather clad SE, in which tasteful Saddle Brown can also be specified. Interior trim is of high quality and good finish, with interior plastics specially developed to give off pleasant odours.

Parking

The SE comes with parking sensors front and rear, and during reverse parking manoeuvres there's a constant symphony from the sensors due to the car's size. The poor turning circle can make changing direction cumbersome on occasion and rear visibility is resticted by the rising window line. However, large mirrors remove some of the strain.

Spare wheel

Full size steel spare located under boot floor.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 2.4-litre (138bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (148bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, five-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels: E, S, SE.

 

Alternative cars

Toyota RAV4 Consistent soft-roader contender has improved with age

Honda CRV Chunky styling and loads of family appeal

 Nissan Qashqai

 Peugeot 4007



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January 2008