2011 Vauxhall Antara review

Recently refreshed, the Vauxhall Antara is now a nicer, cheaper and cleaner car to own thanks to a raft of both cosmetic and engineering changes.

On the outside, Vauxhall’s big SUV looks smart with a sleeker radiator grille and new lights both front and back but the biggest changes are under the bonnet and inside the cabin.

On the engine front there is now a 2.2 diesel which is available with either a 163 or 184 PS power output and it is a more efficient unit than the one it replaces. Expect to see low- to mid-40 mpg consumption and – for company car drivers – lower tax bills thanks to better CO2 emissions of 167 and 175 g/km respectively.

There is a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes and you can specify the car with just front wheel drive only, albeit not on the more powerful model. Be careful though because although it is a bit cheaper, there is nothing like the security of all-wheel drive when the wintry weather arrives.

Inside the cabin, the trim has a more premium feel with plenty of leather and chrome on the higher specced models but the equipment list is pretty generous across the range with, for example, air conditioning being standard on all cars.

Vauxhall has put a lot of effort into making life on board as comfortable and practical as possible. It has adopted a space-efficient electronic parking brake instead of the traditional lever, there is a little pull out compartment under the front passenger seat and more storage space underneath the floor in the luggage area at the back.

On the road the Antara is nice and smooth and a bit quieter than before too. The suspension has been adjusted so there is less pitch and roll through the corners or under braking so it is safer, easier for the driver and a lot more comfortable for passengers.

There is also quite a lot of technology helping the driver too. The four wheel drive is automatically activated when sensors detect the front wheels are reaching their grip limit and it spreads the power output to the back axle too and even from one side to the other as it reacts instantly to maximize adhesion.

The Antara also has a system which prevents the car rolling backwards when starting off on a hill – useful when towing a heavy trailer such as a caravan and you’re not quite sure of the clutch’s biting point.

It will obviously go off-road but this is not a serious mud plugger in the way its predecessor, the Frontera, was but few modern SUVs are.

This shouldn’t be a big concern to most owners who will spend most of the time with it on the tarmac where they will find a pleasant, capable SUV which doesn’t cost the earth to run, which has a comfortable, well equipped cabin and which provides a cheaper alternative to the more expensive, premium-badged SUVs.

Prices for the new Vauxhall Antara start from £19,995.

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