Vauxhall Antara review
We’re disappointed with the Antara. Its abilities are limited – we expected better.
Driving Don’t bother with the gutless 2.4-litre petrol – the 2.0-litre diesel is the Antara’s best engine. It still lags behind rivals, but pulls well from low revs and retains its composure, even when worked hard. Unfortunately, both the brakes and sloppy gearbox are poor, while body control over uneven tarmac is unnerving. It bounces over bumps rather than absorbing them, rolls heavily and has vague steering. It’s not even that great off-road, with none of its rivals’ trick 4WD systems. At least the soft ride ensures the Vauxhall is soothing on smooth roads – self-levelling suspension is standard on all diesels.
Marketplace Vauxhall has sat on the sidelines of the compact SUV sector, after arguably inventing it back in the 1990 with the crude Frontera. The handsome Antara marks its return, competing with sector leaders like the Land Rover Freelander, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It shares its platform with the cheaper Chevrolet Captiva – which, unlike the Antara, offers seven seats. The range comprises E, S and SE, with all boasting a high level of equipment, including air con, ESP and hill descent control. There’ s a single five-door bodystyle, permanent four-wheel-drive for all variants, and just the two engines – with the diesel offering both manual or optional automatic gearboxes.
Owning The cabin is finished to a high standard, and edges its rivals in terms of design and material quality. The seats are comfortable, but could do with more under-thigh support, while in the rear there’s average leg and headroom, and a flat floor which makes it easy to pack in three people. Unfortunately, the boot opening is narrow, the load lip is high, and the 370-litre capacity simply too small. Furthermore, while equipment levels are high, so too are the list prices – and won’t be well supported by glittering residuals. It’s not even that economical, with the diesel averaging 29mpg in our hands. We also can’t help but think Vauxhall’s decision not to offer seven seats is short-sighted.