21 February 2007

Vaux in the box

Vauxhall shows off the production version of its new Antara soft-roader

Vauxhall Antara

Ah, the great gap between concept and reality.

We rather liked the Vauxhall Antara concept that we saw a year-and-a-half ago - a swoopy, funky little SUV with coupe stylings.

Eighteen months on and this is what we get as a production model. A dull-as-daytime-TV soft-roader.

Targeting the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4 - and impressively managing to be even more anodyne and unthreatening than either - the Antara is Vauxhall's first 4x4 since the Frontera died a little-mourned death in 2004.

Perhaps its most telling feature is what Vauxhall is calling Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive.

Basically it means that the Antara operates in two-wheel-drive mode for everyday, on-road use, and only switches to the full-four when it hits the slippery stuff.

Call us cynics, but we don't reckon that'll happen often in Bromley.

This half-baked four-wheel-drive system does at least have the benefit of decent economy.

The two-litre turbodiesel - yep, that's the top-of-the-range engine - returns 38mpg on the combined cycle, or for big thrills you could choose the 2.4-litre four-pot petrol unit.

The diesel comes with the option of a five-speed manual or auto gearbox, while you'll have to make do with the manual 'box if you specify the petrol engine.

Elsewhere, kit levels are pretty comprehensive with top spec 'SE' models getting, well, just about everything. Good thing too, as a range-topping Antara will set you back £27,695 when it arrives in July.

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