Vauxhall’s Antera takes some beating

Vauxhall Antera
Vauxhall Antera

You may remember the Frontera 4x4 that shoved Vauxhall into the off-road market some year’s ago, despite them not being overly good I seem to recall.

This next foray into the expanding niche that is 4x4 is called the Antera, and could well provide Vauxhall a nice stepping stone, as it bridges the compact and family 4x4 variants.

It is in fact the second-generation Antera now so Vauxhall are keen to inject some publicity and life into their mud-plugger.

Looks: The Antera is mid-sized and first thing I notice that’s different is the new grille. It gives it a high stance and whilst the under body sump plate visually pulls it to the ground; lights are an odd shape but the face looks familiar; down the sides it has four doors and smart alloy wheels with roof rails adding to the visual pleasure but at the back it looks new. It looks much sharper now with a central crease running vertically and with bigger light clusters, the design team has come up trumps methinks giving the Antera a nice ‘hip’ line.

On the road: The old Antera had a 2.0-litre diesel engine when first launched, and was a bit on the coarse side. Here, the Vauxhall has a new 2.2-litre diesel engine which is much more refined and stirs 161 brake horsepower, and has totally transformed the driving experience. You can have the 4x4 version like mine here or, should you wish, have a 2WD version that uses the same engine but costs around £2,500 less to buy. It has a manual six-speed gearbox as standard or in 4x4-guise only you can opt for the automatic. The Antera can now hit 125 miles per hour, with 60 taking around 12 seconds.

Alongside better performance, the engine is Euro 5 compliant which means low emissions and better fuel economy; it emits just 175g/km on the emissions front, and can achieve around 44 to the gallon now.

The chassis has had a rethink to, with revised spring and damper settings plus the four wheel drive system switches automatically between two and four wheel drive as the terrain demands. Ground clearance might be an issue, but for normal off roading like farm lanes, snow on the road and the like it’s fine. Under normal driving on the road, the Antera uses just front wheel drive to save on fuel, but as soon as it detects wheel slip, it switches to all four to improve traction.

Interior: The Antera is a five seater, and has good space on board. The seats are comfy and the interior really is stylish with a revised centre console and higher-grade materials used. I now have extra storage scattered around and the higher driving position gives a commanding view of the road ahead.

Good news too is the fact the seats fold flat to the floor in the back, helping enormously with any large items you feel you need to move around; certainly swallowed all my golf gear, that’s for sure.

When you look at all the models in the Vauxhall range, this is the only true 4x4 in the line up; yes, I know Insignia’s have four wheel drive so for 4x4 looks and kudos, it’ll have to be an Antera.

To be fair, and with prices starting at just £20,000 it takes some beating for the money and with Vauxhall’s reputation for excellent customer service and back up who could argue. Mine here, the 4x4 2.2 CDTi AWD Exclusiv version costs £22,260.