Antara 2.2 160bhp CDTI Exclusiv AWD
2010, one in ten new cars sold
in the UK was an SUV, which bodes
well for Vauxhalls significantly
refreshed Antara range...
GENERAL MOTORS HAVE JUST STARTED their programme of European press launches
for the Vauxhall/Opel Antara range in what was this week 'snowy Scotland'.
It is apt that European journalists will be visiting Great Britain and, in particular,
Scotland as the UK is GM's biggest single market in Europe; Vauxhall
sells more new cars in Scotland than any other brand 27,000
last year and that's 7,000 ahead of Ford.
The new Antara will compete for sales against 4x4 crossovers such as the Nissan
Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Mitsubishi ASX, Volkswagen Tiguan and slightly larger SUVs
such as the Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander, Mitsubishi Outlander, Peugeot
4007, Citroen C-Crosser and Toyota RAV4.
Another reason for Vauxhall's confidence that 'new Antara' will outsell 'old
Antara' is that this generation offers a two-wheel drive-only model which could
take up to 35% of sales due to its lower CO2 emissions and its lower starting
price of £19,995, around £2,500 less than the starter price of the outgoing
Antara models. Most models in the new range are cheaper than their previous
equivalent version despite the increase in VAT. 4WD Antara models are priced
from £22,345 to £25,455 and there is a £1,460 six-speed automatic transmission
option for both engines on 4x4 models.
trim and equipment levels are available: Exclusiv (which will take 85% of sales)
and SE. For the UK market there is one all-new 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine
on offer but it is available with two power outputs. Around 85% of Antara customers
in the UK will choose the 160bhp unit used for both 2WD and 4WD models. Top
performance option is the 181bhp unit for 4WD only models.
ride is set up for
comfort rather than ultra
sharp handling but for
most real customers
this is better than having
very firm and harsh ride
The all-new four-cylinder direct injection common rail turbodiesel engine has
CO2 emissions ranging from 167g/km for the FWD variant to 175g/km for 4WD manual
versions and up to a not-insignificant 205g/km for the automatic models. For
company car drivers Benefit-in-Kind tax levels range from 25% to 27% for manual
versions and 33% for automatic gearbox models. However, Vauxhall say that the
Antara will remain a 90% retail proposition. First Year rate VED road tax charges
are £250 for manual transmission models and £550 for automatics.
The new generation five-door, five-seater (load space, incidentally, is 420-1,420
uses the same core platform as the first generation models introduced four years
ago as a replacement for the agricultural Vauxhall/Opel Frontera 4x4 models.
The platform has been revised, especially in the suspension department, with
new settings to give it higher body roll stiffness with a more direct response
steering meaning better balance and better stability. The ride is set up for
comfort rather than ultra sharp handling but for most 'real' customers this
is better than having very firm and harsh ride characteristics.
The electronic stability control function includes active rollover protection
and yaw control. There's descent control for off-road driving and, as we found
in snowy forest tracks in parts of Scotland, this worked pretty well considering
our test cars were equipped with standard on-road tyres.
4WD versions have an electronically-controlled drive distribution system whereby
conventional front-wheel drive is in use most of the time but all-wheel drive
grip is selected automatically when needed. It would be better, and in keeping
with some other good SUVs of this size, to have a 4WD lock function where all
four wheels can be locked to provide permanent drive in tough conditions. Better
to be pre-emptive than reactive, I always feel.
have an electronically-
controlled drive distribution system
is in use most of the
time but all-wheel drive
grip is selected
In most respects the new 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine is first class. It's much
quieter with less 'rattle' than many current GM/Vauxhall/Opel diesel units and,
thankfully, this new unit is the forerunner to other new diesel units to come
for other models. The installation in the Antara is first class and noise intrusion
and vibrations into the vehicle have almost been eliminated. Two new six-speed
transmissions, manual and automatic, complete a very good drivetrain package.
I was able to drive the 160bhp, 258lb ft version of this new engine in the two-wheel
drive model priced at £19,995. Around one third of customers choosing a new
Antara are likely to go for this 'crossover' model. Officially, it returns 44.8mpg.
On test, and driven only on-road, the economy was a very good 44.2mpg. The engine
felt strong, responsive and very quiet all very positive. The
CO2 emissions could be lower given what the latest 2WD SUVs and crossovers are
capable of the 160bhp model's 167g/km means £250 in road tax for
the first year and then £180 for the second year onwards.
This version of the new engine will be the main seller but with the 4WD option.
With 4WD the official fuel economy drops to 42.8mpg and the emissions creep
up to 175g/km but the road tax costs remain the same. Regrettably there were
no models of this specification for us to try at the European press launch but
I can see why it will be the main seller in the UK with Exclusive
trim and equipment it costs a very competitive £22,345 with a manual gearbox
and £1,460 more if the auto 'box is chosen. Good as it is, I wouldn't go the
auto route because of the higher emissions and the accompanying much higher
road tax bill.
A big seller in Europe will be the 181bhp, 295lb ft version of the same 2.2-litre
engine with 4WD. I drove this unit with both manual and automatic gearboxes.
The engine is really strong and responsive more or less right through the range.
transmissions are claimed to return 42.8mpg. On test, the manual model returned
42.4mpg and the auto a poor 27.6mpg but that did include some light forest track
driving. First year road tax for the manual is again £250 and £180 for following
years. However the auto blows the budget with a £550 first year road tax reducing
to £245 for the second year onwards.
new Antara, in whatever form, is a much improved vehicle to drive. It looks
better too, combining chunky, purposeful styling with a sleek coupe side profile.
For safety and impact requirements it has a high belt line and bonnet but it
doesn't look cumbersome very neat, in fact.
the new Antara
is a vastly improved
With smart new looks it
between an SUV and
The interior has been vastly improved as well. Built in South Korea, perhaps
some of the plastics are not as plush as the best of the European SUVs but they
look durable. Specification is high even for the best-selling Exclusiv versions.
All models have air conditioning, electrically-operated windows front and rear,
electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, good sound system, split/folding
rear seat, a comprehensive array of airbags, fog lamps, roof rails and alloy
All-wheel drive versions with Exclusiv specification gain even more 'goodies'
including heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control
and, of course, electronically-operated all-wheel drive.
The SE versions gains include automatic wipers, headlight washers, Xenon headlights,
extra brightwork, leather seat facings and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Overall the new Vauxhall Antara is a vastly improved package and
competitively priced. Plus points include the new engine and transmissions,
competitive pricing, high equipment levels, comfortable ride and smart new looks.
And it 'crosses over' nicely between an SUV and a Crossover with two- or four-wheel
drive model availability.
Against that there's just a couple of things: higher emissions than some of
the latest vehicles in this sector so higher running costs, and the handling's
not the sharpest in its class. But with more people returning to SUV and crossover
ownership, it's a very competitive addition to Vauxhall's much improved model
Vauxhall Antara 2.2 160bhp CDTI Exclusiv AWD | £22,345
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 160bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 175g/km