The Vauxhall Antara has struggled to make a real impact on the compact SUV market, which is odd, considering it comes with lots of kit, stylish looks and a favourable price tag.

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Instead, it's been overshadowed by competitive rivals such as the Ford KugaVolkswagen Tiguan and Toyota RAV4. It received a facelift in 2012, which brought in a new engine and a higher-quality interior. 

There are only three trim levels to choose from - Exclusiv, Diamond and SE Nav. It's also available in either two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and all models benefit from hill decent control.

Our choice: 2.2 CDTi (163) Exclusiv AWD

Styling

Granted, the Vauxhall Antara isn't the best looking in its class, but it definitely has more charisma than the bland Volkswagen Tiguan.

A facelift in 2012 did help to bring the Antara up to date slightly; it's got Vauxhall's new front grille and Griffin logo meaning it fits in with the rest of the line-up.

Pre-facelift, the Vauxhall Antara didn't have much to brag about in terms of its interior, but now it has lots of extra storage spaces, new trim materials and improved instruments, too. The quality just isn't there compared to rivals, though.

There are three trim levels to choose from - Exclusive, Diamond and SE Nav. All versions get 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, heated front seats, front fog lights and tinted windows. 

Opt for SE Nav and you'll get huge 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, Xenon headlamps and extra chrome trim. The Diamond trim level gets all the perks of Exclusiv models, as well as leather seat facings, and a driver's seat that can electronically adjust for reach, rake, height and tilt adjustment.

Driving

Thanks to the diverse, adjustable seat, it's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and the high driving position gives you a great view of the road ahead.

There are two engines on offer with the Vauxhall Antara - the first is a 2.2 CDTi diesel, which is available with either 161bhp or 182bhp. There's also a 2.4i 16v petrol engine, which manages 40.4mpg.

A six-speed manual gearbox is available across the Vauxhall Antara range, while four-wheel drive models are available with a six-speed automatic. The Vauxhall Antara offers precise steering and good body control, but it simply can't match the Ford Kuga or Volkswagen Tiguan in terms of driver enjoyment.

Reliability

The Vauxhall Antara hasn't yet been featured in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, but all versions come with lots of safety equipment, including front, side and curtain airbags.

There's also a whole host of driver aids including electronic stability control (ESP), anti-lock brakes, traction control, hill star assist and adaptive brake lights - these flash rapidly during an emergency stop.

Vauxhall as a manufacturer finished 13th overall in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer rankings. It managed to beat BMW and Audi, so it's a reliable brand to go with. Plus, the Vauxhall Antara's parts have been tried and tested in other Vauxhall models, so should prove to be reliable as well.

Practicality

The Vauxhall Antara offers 420 litres of boot space, which expands to 1,420 litres when the rear seats are folded. It's not bad, but rivals such as the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Santa Fe are a lot more practical.

Still, the Vauxhall Antara comes with a large tailgate, which has a low loading lip - so putting large items of luggage in isn't a problem at all. Plus, SE Nav models come with a folding front passenger seat as standard, meaning you can carry even larger items. 

The interior of the Vauxhall Antara is pretty spacious and there's plenty of headroom and legroom in the back. As well as a foldout armrest, you'll find useful storage cubbies and lidded compartments, too.

Running Costs

The Vauxhall Antara comes with a class-leading price tag and lots of standard equipment to go with it, too.

Unfortunately, though, it's pretty expensive to run. Even the entry level 2.2 CDTi diesel emits 160g/km of CO2, and manages a combined fuel consumption of 46.3mpg.

The 2.4i 16v petrol emits a whopping 206 g/km of CO2 and returns only 32.1mpg. It's not great, especially when competitors such as the Volkswagen Tiguan offer efficient engines like the 2.0 TDI BlueMotion.

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