Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi FWD Exclusiv: Road test review

Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi FWD Exclusiv
Vauxhall took a while to offer a replacement for its workman-like, but capable off-roader, the Frontera and the Antara is it. Vauxhall's rival to the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4 hasn't been a popular site on UK roads since its launch in 2007.

Four years on and to no doubt increase interest, a face-lifted Anatara is on sale. To see how it compares with rivals, I spent a week with the 2.2 CDTi front-wheel drive Exclusiv, costing £19,995.

This is the first facelift for the Vauxhall off-roader and it's basically a nose job. At the front, there's a new version of the latest Vauxhall family grille, new headlights and a revised front bumper.

The new nose is less attractive, but is more distinctive in my opinion than the outgoing car.

Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi FWD ExclusivChanges at the side are limited to some new trim on the front wings and at the back there's a revised set of rear lights.

Our test car was fitted with one of two new diesel engines available for the Vauxhall - the 2.2-litre, diesel engine with 165bhp. Emissions of just 167g/km aren't amazing but the 44.8mpg fuel consumption figure is pretty good.

The Antara's power-assisted steering is light and vague. Still, it's fine on the motorway. The thin roof pillars, big windows and compact dimensions means it is no worse to park than a normal estate. Rear parking sensors were a welcome standard feature however.

The taller stance means there's some body roll in corners, but it is kept well under control and there's plenty of grip from the 17-inch wheels. The ride in general is suprisingly refined, with the tall suspension soaking up the worst bumps.

Considering the sub £20,000 list price, build quality is no better than average; it certainly isn't up to German or Japanese rivals. In particular, the half leather trim of the Exclusiv test car felt quite cheap. Still, the interior plastics looked smarter and more durable than the sister car, the Chevrolet Captiva.

Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi FWD Exclusiv
The 2.2-litre diesel engine is smooth and flexible. It gives its best in the mid-range, with 400Nm of torque available from just 2,000 rpm.

The six-speed manual gearbox is sloppy and doesn't like to be hurried; 60mph comes up in 9.9 seconds and the top speed is 117mph.

I appreciated the tall SUV-like driving position of the Antara, but was let down by the front seats which lacked support. On the plus side, the tall roof line means there's plenty of headroom and it's a practical family car with a generous 370 litres of loadspace.

Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi FWD Exclusiv
Our test car was in entry-level Exclusiv trim which includes air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels and part-leather trim.

The standard CD stereo is good quality, but there's no sat-nav option on the Exclusiv version of the Antara.

To sum up, the Vauxhall Antara is a well-priced, practical all-rounder, that is well suited to family use. However, despite last year's redesign I don't think it is distinctive enough to make its mark in this popular area of the market.