Updated Vauxhall Antara driven

* New engines and updated styling * Entry price cut by £2835 * On sale now...

Updated Vauxhall Antara driven

What is it?

Updated version of Vauxhall's rival for the likes of the Ford Kuga and VW Tiguan.

What's new?

The Antara has a fresh look, with a redesigned front bumper and grille and new rear light lenses. On the inside there are new materials and instrument dials.

There are more substantial changes under the bonnet, with two new 2.2-litre diesel engines replacing the old 148bhp 2.0 units. Tweaks to the steering and suspension and extra soundproofing are designed to make the Antara more refined and enjoyable to drive.

What's it like to drive?

We've only driven the entry-level model: the front-wheel drive, 161bhp 2.2 CDTi. Whereas the previous Antara was available with four-wheel-drive only, the new two-wheel-drive version is much more appealing to those more concerned with lower costs than extra traction. The previous car's lowest CO2 emissions figure was 198g/km, but that has now been cut to 167g/km.

Our drive confirmed that Vauxhall's efforts to make the Antara better to drive have paid off. It feels more tightly controlled on twisty roads and it's significantly quieter. There's a rather firm edge to the ride, however, and although the manual gearshift is better, it's still notchy. The new 2.2 engine is notably more refined, however, and also more flexible.

Whats it like inside?

Only Vauxhall dealers or Antara owners are likely to spot the cabin changes. As before, it's all solidly built and easy on the eye. It's practical too, with plenty of head- and legroom to go round. A flat floor frees up useful foot space for a central rear passenger. The boot has a fairly high floor, but it's a decent shape and has a reasonable 402-litre capacity.

How much does it cost?

Prices start at £19,995, for the front-wheel drive 2.2 CDTi 163 Exclusiv. That's £2835 less than the previous entry-level point, although that model came with four-wheel-drive. The cheapest four-wheel-drive version now costs £22,345, while prices for the 181bhp 2.2 CDTi model start at £25,455.

All versions are well equipped. Exclusiv trim includes air-con, alloys, heated door mirrors, six airbags and stability control. Exclusiv 4WD models add extras such as automatic headlights, a trailer stability system, dark tinted rear windows, heated front seats, climate control and larger alloys. Top-spec SE cars have extra chrome trim, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, xenon headlamps and larger alloys.

The new Antara is on sale now.