What is the Vauxhall Antara?
The sister model to the Chevrolet Captiva, the Antara is built by the former GM Daewoo in South Korea and is a cheap, low-tech SUV. It lacks the off-road ability of the old workhorse Frontera, but has a torque-on-demand all-wheel-drive system and hill descent control, giving it enough grip on grass for pulling a trailer or caravan (the latest 2.2 CDTi manual-transmission models can pull 2,000kg). Entry-level front-wheel-drive versions have been offered since 2011, when the range was overhauled, gaining better ride and handling, improvements to refinement and soundproofing plus a general facelift to enhance the rather cheap-feeling cabin and plain exterior styling.
That update in 2011 also brought the 2.2 CDTi diesel engine, available with 161bhp or 182bhp, an improvement on the previous 150bhp 2-litre, a crude and noisy engine that lacked mid-range muscle. A 2.4-litre petrol has also been offered but understandably it has sold in small numbers — second-hand, you’re much more likely to find a diesel. Second-generation gearboxes (six-speed manual and automatic) are also better than their predecessors; the 2007-10 Antara had a clunky manual gearchange or a slow-witted auto, neither of which made it much fun to drive.
Another reason to spend a bit more on a later model is the substantial reworking of the suspension system (self-levelling, in diesel versions), which went some way to address the pitching, rolling and wallowing of the first-generation car, as well as sharpening up the steering and general responses. The Antara’s not a sporting SUV by any means, but it is now at least reasonably easy to manoeuvre and not too nausea-inducing to travel in.
Standard equipment includes side and curtain airbags plus stability control and trailer stability control (in diesels, from mid-2008), and though the Antara itself hasn’t been through the Euro NCAP crash tests, the Captiva scored a five-star result, suggesting its structure is solid and able to withstand an impact. Specification also includes comfort and styling basics such as air-conditioning and alloy wheels; heated leather seats, xenon headlamps, parking sensors, and Bluetooth connectivity are fitted in the higher-end versions or as options.
The five-seat Antara isn’t the roomiest or most versatile of family SUVs, with a 420-litre boot that is high to load into and not very deep, though an extra 1,000 litres are freed when the rear seats are folded. The rear seat also reclines, and headroom and legroom are good for adult occupants across the bench.
Though by no means a bad choice, the Antara (and indeed, Captiva) trails its opposition in most areas and does feel dated now – modern crossovers such as the Nissan Qashqai are a more enjoyable drive. The Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Sportage are similarly affordably-priced yet more versatile; and the new breed of road-oriented 4x4s such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Yeti are much more accomplished all-rounders full stop.
What to look out for when buying a used Vauxhall Antara
Owners have reported a few minor quality glitches, including premature corrosion around the tailgate handle and sticking doors, as well as difficulty in driving smoothly (thought to be an ECU issue), a problem with the throttle control sensors and other electrical and electronic niggles. They’ve also complained that they can’t achieve anywhere near the diesel’s claimed fuel economy.
Vauxhall does not tend to score well in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys, and Antara owners have reported indifferent treatment by dealers. The Antara has been recalled for a steering fault — incorrect coupling of the shaft to the column, affecting cars built in 2006-7 — and owners have also been called back to dealerships for software upgrades and to have a braking fault fixed. Check that all necessary rectification work has been carried out.
The one to buy
Vauxhall Antara 2.2 CDTi 4×4 Exclusiv
- 2231cc, 4 cylinders
- 182bhp @ 3800rpm
- 295 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 9.6sec
- Top speed:
- 44.1mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4596mm, W 1850mm, H 1761mm