It's a dilemma faced by thousands of car buyers every year - they want the style and practicality of a 4x4, but feel unable to justify the compromised dynamics, e...More »
It's a dilemma faced by thousands of car buyers every year - they want the style and practicality of a 4x4, but feel unable to justify the compromised dynamics, economy and performance of a big off-roader. Now Vauxhall can offer a car which fulfils all their needs - the stylish Vauxhall Antara. The technically sophisticated five-seater combines dynamic, stylish design with intelligent four-wheel drive, high levels of flexibility, generous interior space, a raised driving position and clever features such as "Flex-Fix".
Two transversally-mounted engines with four valves per cylinder are available for the Vauxhall Antara - a petrol and a diesel. The entry-level unit is a 2.4-litre, 140PS four-cylinder petrol with two overhead cams and a balancer shaft to ensure smoothness and refinement. Most buyers in this market want diesels though, so Vauxhall expects the 150PS, 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel to be the top seller, taking more than 90 percent of sales,
Both engines are linked to an intelligent active four-wheel drive system which combines the benefits of front-wheel drive - such as fuel economy, predictable handling and increased driving dynamics - with the grip and security of permanent four-wheel drive when it is needed.
This innovative system features an electronically-controlled electro-hydraulic differential which ensures optimal torque distribution between the front and rear axles in all situations. The drivetrain is fully integrated in the ABS and ESP systems, enhancing vehicle control and active safety.
The comprehensive standard safety package includes front airbags, thorax/pelvis side airbags for driver and front passenger, head curtain airbags for the front and outer rear seats as well as a crash-optimised chassis with four load paths. Other safety features include three-point safety belts and head restraints for all five seats. The front seats are equipped with seat-belt tensioners and belt-force limiters. The outer rear seats come with ISOFIX mountings for fast and secure fitting of child seats.
The stylish good looks of the Vauxhall Antara, both inside and out, are matched by a quality feel which will mean that owners of larger 4x4s will be able to downsize to an Antara without feeling short changed.
In fact, the Vauxhall Antara's price and equipment will leave buyers feeling positively flush, with the sort of luxuries which would cost thousands when added as options to other SUVs.
The entry-level E starts at just under £20,000 but includes four-wheel-drive, ESP, a decent control system, air conditioning, alarm, front fog lights and 17-inch alloys. Diesel versions even have self-levelling suspension and a trailer stability program, which automatically recalibrates the ESP to allow for towing.
Moving up the range, and the S gains Electronic Climate Control, heated front seats, trip computer, cruise control, a rear seat centre armrest, chilled glovebox, 18-inch alloys, automatic headlights and wipers and chrome door handles.
The flagship SE is arrives fully laden with the sort of equipment. There's a DVD-based satellite navigation system with a six CD changer, leather seat and door facings, a Bluetooth mobile phone system, Xenon headlamps, electro-chromatic dimming rear-view and door mirrors, a tyre pressure monitoring system and parking distance sensors.
With this level of kit fitted as standard, there's not much left for an options list. Metallic paint is an extra £400, but it's the innovative FlexFix system which is expected to capture the headlines when it's available in early 2008.
With FlexFix, transporting bikes is super-simple. Instead of having to mount a bicycle carrier on the tow ball or roof rack, Flex-Fix simply pulls out of the rear bumper and is ready to go. No parts need to be stored in the garage or loft and there are no tools needed. What's more, at £475 it costs only a little more than conventional bike carriers.
The integrated rack can transport up to two bicycles, stows away almost invisibly in the rear bumper and can be easily pulled out like a drawer. The Flex-Fix carrier's unlocking lever is located directly on the edge of the luggage compartment sill, ensuring easy access even when the boot is full.
Despite these innovations and the Vauxhall Antara's premium feel and stylish looks, it is priced to compete with mainstream rivals, with prices starting at £19.995.
The new Vauxhall Antara's design origin is clearly linked to the Antara GTC (Gran Turismo Crossover) concept car, which was the star of the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design language of this off-road coupé concept car is echoed in the production version.
At first glance, the Vauxhall Antara's distinctive design character has bold contrasts. While the lower section clearly displays the new SUV's robust nature, the body's striking lines have the look of a sporty, muscular car. It's certainly a far cry from the boxy, utilitarian 4x4 which has been previously seen in the class.
The designers visualised the Vauxhall Antara as a versatile vehicle that is both dynamic and comfortable for long journeys. Carefully crafted details such as the crease on the bonnet and the grille confidently emphasise the car's high quality and brand identity.
With its compact dimensions (length x width x height: 4575 x 1850 x 1704 millimeters), the crossover takes up little more space than a mid-size passenger car such as an
(4515x1753x1496), making parking in tight spaces easy.
The sporty, sloping roofline also echoes the
Antara GTC concept car
's dynamic design, which earned it the title "Concept of the Year" in 2005 from the Autocar magazine. With a sporty downward swing, the silhouette tapers into sleek side air vents. These exciting side accents flow into lines traced by the roof railings and side windows.
This look continues to the Vauxhall Antara's rear. A striking chrome crossbar not only enhances the stylish look, it also emphasises the vehicle's width and stability. This is underlined by the large curved rear window, which boasts frameless fitted glass that extends to the D-pillar - a design feature that also improves rear visibility and lets plenty of light into the interior. Finally, large three-dimensional rear lights set at an angle make the Antara unmistakable from the rear. Sculpted into the shoulder line, they create a smooth transition into the Vauxhall Antara's profile.
Interior: Versatile and comfortable
Step inside a Vauxhall Antara and it will seem like a pleasant change from some of the cheap-looking and cramped interiors which are offered by some other cars in the small 4x4 sector.
The interior brings new levels of style and quality to the class. Contoured seats reflect the Vauxhall Antara's dynamic character while all instruments and operating controls are ergonomically placed and clearly laid out.
Eye-catching interior features include three large round air vents on the centre console and a distinctively shaped 'grab-handle' handbrake.
And it's not just the quality feel and stylish appearance which will please buyers. Numerous compartments, as well as many clever and practical features make the car a pleasure to live with everyday.
There's a real sense of spaciousness created by the elevated seating position and large glazed surfaces too, and the Antara doesn't just seem spacious: measurements confirm that passengers enjoy plenty of space. With 933 millimetres of rear legroom, for example, the Vauxhall Antara is at the top of its segment.
With the luggage compartment cover in place the Antara offers 370 litres of boot space. Cargo capacity increases to 865 litres with the rear bench seat folded down and up to 1420 litres when loaded to the roof. The rear seat back can be split 60:40 and folded down.
A storage box under the load floor ensures practical organization of the luggage compartment, as does the optional FlexOrganiser system, which is already familiar from the Astra and
models. Nets, dividing walls, rods and hooks can be snapped into two rails on each of the side walls of the Vauxhall Antara's luggage compartment, allowing the boot to be separated into different sections to protect the cargo from shifting or being damaged during the journey.
However, the designers did not only focus on the boot when they considered the newcomer's storage. The Antara features numerous compartments and boxes throughout its interior, including a drawer under the passenger seat, sunglasses holder in the roof liner, nets on the front seat backs, a car park ticket holder to the right of the steering wheel, a net on the centre console, compartments in the front and rear central arm rests, as well as storage boxes around the rear wheel arches in the boot.
The integrated rear carrier Flex-Fix boasts the unbeatable practicality that has become a Vauxhall trademark and is especially important in this segment. Flex-Fix has the potential to set the new benchmark in flexible exterior transportation, just as the Zafira's "Flex7" does for interior seating systems. In typical Vauxhall style, its full on-board functionality eliminates the need for cumbersome assembly, dismantling or storage of parts. Flex-Fix is also featured in the new Corsa and is available as an option for the Vauxhall Antara. It stows away almost invisibly under the rear bumper and can easily be pulled out to carry up to two bicycles.
For on-board entertainment, the Antara features a standard MP3-compatible stereo CD Radio, seven speakers, remote controls on the steering wheel and a roof antenna to provide excellent radio reception. The DVD 100 navigation system, which is standard on the Vauxhall Antara SE, features a large 7.5-inch colour info display, as well as mobile phone Bluetooth connection.
Chassis: Car-like handling and all-wheel-drive grip
With its agile handling, precise speed-dependant power steering and stiff chassis, the Antara is clearly designed as a dynamic on-road vehicle with off-road abilities.
The McPherson suspension in front and a four-link suspension in the rear provide a high-quality chassis concept similar to that of the acclaimed Vauxhall Vectra and
The front struts are mounted on a highly rigid subframe which guarantees precise wheel alignment and also compensates for lateral loads.
The compact four-link rear axle utilises three transverse and one longitudinal link to locate the rear wheels. This independent set-up makes it possible to optimise rear wheel camber and, compared the more traditional beam axle at the rear, the result is a more controlled ride.
All diesel-engined Antaras also feature a self-levelling device. Instead of the conventional shock absorbers, a regulating system with a pump integrated in the shock absorbers, reservoir, sensor, control mechanism and damper is fitted at both rear wheels and automatically adapts the Vauxhall Antara to loads and trailers.
Buyers who plump for factory-fit towing pack will also discover that Antara will cleverly recognise when a trailer is plugged in and automatically calibrate the ESP system to compensate. A yaw-rate sensor immediately detects any yawing tendencies in the car-trailer combination and automatically stabilises it again with brake intervention or by closing the throttle.
The Vauxhall Antara E comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels (with 235/60 R17 tyres) and the top S and SE Antara variants have 18-inch alloys (with 235/55 R18s). A Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is standard on the SE and monitors via sensors at each valve and activates a warning signal in the info display when more than 0.3 bar is lost.
The Vauxhall Antara's intelligent active four-wheel drive system combines the benefits of front-wheel drive - such as low fuel consumption and easy maneuvering - with those of four-wheel drive. Under normal conditions, the Antara is a pure front-wheel drive car. However, power can be quickly and seamlessly distributed between the front and rear axle at a ratio of up to 50:50 when needed. The key element for this function is an electronically controlled, electro-magnetically operated, electro-hydraulic differential on the rear axle. The compact and light four-wheel drive system is fully integrated in the ABS and ESP systems and supports the driver effectively in all driving situations, such as during heavy acceleration.
The braking system comprises large, ventilated disc brakes and a modern four-channel ABS. The ABS hydraulics also takes over the brake assist function if emergency braking occurs (Hydraulic Brake Assist, HBA). The modern ESP system boasts numerous additional functions that further increase active safety, including Descent Control System (DCS), a standard feature in all Antaras. DCS allows the vehicle to safely maintain a constant speed even down steep inclines without the driver needing to brake.
During winter holidays on snow-covered roads, for instance, the system ensures that the car does not exceed a pre-selected speed, thereby remaining easy to control. It operates at speeds of up to 30 mph.
If the driver selects first gear while stationary (or "D" for automatic) before a steep slope, then allows the vehicle to roll forward without using the accelerator pedal, and then presses the DCS button, the system will maintain a maximum downhill speed of 6 mph and keeps this speed constant through brake intervention at the front wheels.
If the Vauxhall Antara is approaching a steep downhill slope at a certain speed in a gear higher than first (also valid for automatics), the driver can activate DCS by operating the brake pedal as the vehicle starts to descend. The system then reduces the vehicle's speed to 10 mph and maintains this speed to the bottom of the slope. DCS also operates in reverse gear. In this case, a constant 5 mph is maintained.
It is also possible to accelerate or decelerate slightly when driving down a slope with DCS activated. When the driver removes his foot from the accelerator or brake pedal, the system returns the vehicle to its pre-selected speed. If the system is activated at a significantly higher speed, the braking effect is immediately noticeable. At the same time, a clearly audible sound informs the driver about the activities of the ESP system's control unit, which regulates the instant brake intervention.
Development & Quality control
The new Antara, which is manufactured by General Motors Korea, benefits from the strategy of maintaining highly developed, globally consistent standards. The "GM Global Manufacturing System" (GM GMS), implemented throughout the world, is based on five key concepts: "zero defects policy", standardisation, continuous improvement, short cycle times and workforce involvement.
New models undergo demanding durability testing long before series production begins. During the new SUV's development phase, for example, prototypes and pre-production models covered over three million test miles on testing grounds and tracks worldwide. The test centres in Pferdsfeld, Germany and Millbrook in Bedfordshire played a central role in the Antara's chassis tuning and durability testing.
In addition to these tests, it is often a combination of material and workmanship details that create a Vauxhall model's high-quality look, because the car should also appeal to the driver's - and passengers' - senses. The new Antara's good looks are eye-catching from any perspective.
The Vauxhall Antara also sounds good, for example when the doors close with a satisfying click. And it feels good, because the materials are pleasing to the touch and all switch and button movements are precise and well-defined.
A team of scent experts even successfully developed the new Antara's olfactory qualities. All interior components were analysed and optimised at a laboratory in Rüsselsheim, Germany, resulting in a pleasant scent without odours from plastic parts. The scent experts were recently able to confirm their success when the very first Antaras were delivered.
Plenty of Vauxhall know-how also went into the Vauxhall Antara's repair-friendly design. Drivers benefit from this in several ways: through low servicing costs, short repair times and favourable insurance premiums.
Construction details that help minimise costs for minor front and rear damage include easily-replaceable bolted subframe radiator supports, bumper fascias that can be changed quickly, and a special repair feature for headlamp mounting brackets. If a headlamp's plastic holder tears during a minor collision, the headlamp does not necessarily need to be replaced. For such cases, Vauxhall offers a special repair set with a new holder for the Antara, as it does for other models.
Relatively expensive engine components, such as the radiator and the air conditioning condenser, are well protected behind impact force limiters. The bumpers also have large surfaces, and energy absorption is helped by crash boxes bolted behind them. Should an accident occur, a repair method specially developed for the Vauxhall Antara also keeps costs down and enables partial replacement of the vehicle floor if necessary.
In addition, Vauxhall employs preventative measures in other areas, such as full galvanization of all body sections prone to corrosion. And the new Antara will seldom see the inside of a workshop, thanks to inspection intervals of 20,000 miles or one year, as well as many completely maintenance-free components. These include the diesel particulate filter in the diesel models and hydraulic valve lifters in the 2.4-litre petrol engine.
Powertrain: Two engines with 140 or 150PS
The Vauxhall Antara is available with a choice of two engines - a petrol or a diesel. Both are transversally mounted, feature four-valve technology and are coupled to a five-speed manual transmission as standard
The newly-developed 2.0 CDTi engine with an output of 150PS is expected to take more than 90 percent of sales in the UK. This engine includes newest generation common-rail technology with up to 1600 bar injection pressure, an aluminum cylinder head, a turbocharger with variable vane geometry and a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter,
This particulate filter consists of a solid, honeycomb-shaped ceramic body with microscopic channels. Soot particles collect on the surface of these channels and are regularly burnt off to prevent the filter blocking. Instead of using a complex system of fuel additives to remove these particles, multiple targeted injections raise the diesel engine's exhaust-gas temperature to 600 degrees Celsius - the soot particulate's ignition temperature - for the duration of the burning process in the filter. All this happens without the driver even being aware.
The diesel can be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission instead of the standard five-speed manual gearbox. Thanks to ActiveSelect, this automatic transmission also offers manual gear selection, as well as the choice of a winter driving program.
With both transmissions it delivers excellent performance. Accelerating from 50 to 75 mph in fifth gear takes only 12.6 seconds (automatic: 9.7 seconds). According to government figures, consumption is only 37.7mpg on the combined cycle (automatic: 29.4mpg). In combination with the 65-litre fuel tank, this provides an operating range of around 540 miles. Top speed is 111mph (automatic: 108 mph).
The new diesel engine was co-developed by GM Korea and GM Powertrain, and is produced in Gunsan, South Korea. Up to 250,000 engines can be produced annually in the 19,200 square metre plant, where regular production began in March 2006.
In addition to the diesel, the ECOTEC engine range also includes a petrol unit. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder produces 140PS, and features technical details such as double overhead camshafts, a balance shaft with two rotating counterweights and an electronic throttle control. The long-stroke unit (bore/stroke: 87.5/100 millimetres) reaches a top speed of 109 mph, accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 11.9 seconds, and returns an average of 29.4mpg.
The intelligent active four-wheel drive system ITCC (Intelligent Torque Controlled Coupling) is fitted as standard to all Antaras and combines the benefits of pure front-wheel drive - such as low fuel consumption and virtually effortless manoeuvring - with those of four-wheel drive. While the Vauxhall Antara is a front-wheel drive car under normal conditions, drive can be quickly and seamlessly distributed between the front and rear axle at a ratio of up to 50:50 when needed. The four-wheel drive system's principal component is an electronically controlled electro-hydraulic differential on the rear axle.
The four-wheel drive system is compact, light and fully integrated in the ABS and ESP control systems. To effectively isolate the body from the engine, the Antara features a complex four-point pivoted bearing in the neutral axis. With this Neutral Torque Axis (NTA) mounting, the engine's weight is supported by bearings located left and right in its dynamic spin axis. This mounting reduces vibrations and noise, especially when the engine is idling.
Vauxhall re-enters four-wheel drive segment
Traditionally, the off-road segment consisted of vehicles which fulfilled a specific need. Very few people would put up with the compromised dynamics and high fuel consumption of a pre-1980s off roader purely for fashion of occasional leisure use.
Since then though, a sucession of 'fun and fashion' 4x4s together with advances in technology, have brought four-wheel-drive to a whole new generation of buyers. One of the first was the Frontera. Unveiled in 1991, the Frontera was one of the first SUV models ever and dominated its segment in the UK and Europe for many years.
Unlike the new Antara, which features a unibody monocoque design typical of passenger cars, the
had a ladder frame chassis. In total, around 285,000 units of the classic robust 4x4 were sold in Europe up until it ceased production in 2003.
Even a decade ago the off-road segment represented just 4.1 percent of the market in the UK; by 2006 that figure had grown to 7.66 percent. Registrations dropped off slightly last year as buyers awaited the arrival of significant new models, and sales are expected to rise again this year as those cars reach showrooms.
The so-called 'fun & fashion' sector of the market in which the Vauxhall Antara will sit makes up around half of all 4x4 sales, and within this two-thirds are private buyers and just a third are fleet cars. Diesels make up 63.8 percent of sales in the sector, but this is expected to be above 90 percent for the Antara.
There is a higher percentage of automatics bought in the segment too, and Vauxhall expects 35 percent of buyers to opt for a self-shifter. The Vauxhall Antara has a rare option in this class too - the highly-desirable combination of a diesel auto.Hide -