Good-looking Antara fills the gap
THE Vauxhall Antara shares all its underpinnings and is built in the same factory as the Chevrolet Captiva, which came out at an almost identical price, so take a look at them both if one might suit your needs.
After the demise of the Frontera, so beloved by secondhand buyers for its cheap prices and good looks, the company’s range was short of a 4x4.
But the gap was reasonably well-filled by the Antara – a good looking 4x4 with the right diesel engine giving decent acceleration and reasonable economy.
There is one petrol engine – a 2.4 which is rare and thirsty – and a choice of two diesels – an earlier 2.0-litre with 147bhp and a later 2.2 with 161bhp or 181bhp.
I’ll discount the petrol as far as this appraisal is concerned but the diesels are not up to the best of the opposition either.
They are both fairly noisy at slower speeds but do smooth out once up to cruise. The later 2.2 is the best, so I’ll concentrate on that.
There are front and allwheel-drive versions, and obviously, the two-wheel-drive (2WD) models give better economy and slightly better performance.
The 161bhp model comes with or without four-wheel drive (4WD) and the more powerful 2.2 is only available with it.
The 161bhp manual front-wheel-drive model manages a creditable 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, while the higher power variant takes 9.6 seconds.
An automatic gearbox was available, but affects both performance and economy. For the manuals, that should be a reasonable 42mpg-46mpg.
Both diesels offer decent acceleration off the mark, but neither is particularly refined and the manual gearbox can be a little notchy.
The Antara is easy to park and to drive around town, but the suspension is too soft and allows it to wallow through corners.
This isn’t helped by steering that is lacking in feel most of the time.
It is not perfect then, but it does have neat styling, a well-laid-out and spacious cabin and the levels of standard equipment are pretty good.
Every model comes with stability control, six airbags, air con, electric windows all round, remote locking and a CD stereo with MP3 connection.