Used car review

Vauxhall Frontera Sport 2.2 DTi

 Movie Clips of this Car

Interior movie click here Exterior movie click here

 Vauxhall ?????? Frontera !!!!!!!!!!!!Diesel ahhhhhhhhh           
Vauxhall Frontera Sport 2.2 DTi

Frontera tested was a 2000 model  Short wheel base 2.2 DTi Ecotec Sport with some 80,000 miles covered.


Vauxhall as a marque is not one of my favorite, the Frontera is not one of my favorite cars having owned the 2.3 Turbo D "SLUG" some time ago.

So being asked to review this car was not one of my best assignments. But much to my chagrin the result is much better than I expected.

Vauxhall introduced is 4x4 Frontera in October 1991in 3 door and lwb 5 door versions, Diesel slugs and petrol have been available from the start.

 Engines types have been changed thorough the years. The car also has undergone many improvements cosmeticly but much more so steering braking and suspension. 

Which I might add was desperately required along with improvements to the dubious reliability of the older models.


The 4x4's are generally not very pretty and some can be extremely ostentatious as well as ugly, but this Frontera is quite small and compact by 4x4 standards. 

It sits well and has a very good seating position with good visibility, unless you are a passenger in the rear. In this case your best vision is through the windscreen as the quarter windows do not offer much of  a view.

The swb Frontera has a removable hard top which kind of makes it a 4x4 convertible. That's if one you can be bothered taking the roof off and two have a spare workshop to store it. 

The hard top is also cumbersome and heavy making it almost impossible to remove without lots and lots of help.

The body is nicely lined with wings similar to the bigger Monterey, the wheels are standard steel but look as good as the alloy versions, and are probably more sensible for kerb bashing duties and probably no heavier either.


This model has a far better interior than its predecessor click here to see

The simple looking dash in the spacious cockpit appear modest and simplistic. However the specification level is equal to that of a family saloon. 

Air conditioning is standard along with electric windows, multi function display, stereo etc click here for full details. 


The stereo is available in CD or tape format, it also has a removable front anti theft panel which is good. 

Steering wheel and gear knob are plastic and hard wearing, very practical but without any kind of  luxurious feeling.

Door trims are plastic too but with a cloth inserts. This sounds bad but then it is a 4x4 trailer puller or hill climber as well as a road car, and the more oblivious it is to mud and crud the better.

4 cylinder 2171cc. 
16 Valve turbo charged 

direct injection.
115bhp up to 116 mph.
Standing to sixty in about 13.7 seconds.

Not the most impressive engine on paper or indeed to look at. 

This 2.2 engine is used in many other cars including Vauxhalls Omega and Vectra range and the Saab 9-3 hatch.

It is a strong and proven unit which is of alloy construction and with an old fashioned timing chain and not rubber belt. Old but MORE reliable with less maintenance.

Power is even throughout the rev range holding on up to 5,000 rpm, with power fading away before destruction.

Economy is excellent Vauxhall quote up to the late 30's I actually got better despite some fairly hard driving.

One problem I have come across is the injector seals leak allowing the diesel to flow back to the fuel tank. This makes it almost impossible to start the engine when stood for some time, and its expensive to fix, with specialist tools needed, what a surprise! So take care if the one your looking at is hard to start. It may just be glow plugs but its worth checking.

The suspension on the car is independent with front Mc Phearson struts and rear coil springs. 

This is a good set up allowing all wheels the ability to support the car best where and when required. This model does indeed handle very well throughout all speed ranges.

The older models were quite vague and not very precise when cornering under load or at high speed. This model though, I could quite easily put up with. it has a feel of an MPV or a similar vehicle leaving behind the feel of a cumbersome 4x4.

(Although 4*4 purists will tell you that this kind of Road suspension is not best suited to Off-road work and will eventually leave you stuck in some deep rutted mud) 

Well except when you apply the electronic diff lock. This works great! 
I am sure would help you out of most sticky situations. But when on it does cause what is a normal and expected shudder through the car when turning, and many more very noisy transmission sounds. It does not sound good at all, but I guess is necessary for a four wheel drive. Just don't press the button accidentally at high speed. As your going to get transmission wind up and end up with either a bust transmission or drive train. Reserve it for slippery surfaces.

Braking is servo assisted with front ventilated discs and rear brake drums. 

The brakes are not very good in that when applied hard the rear load restricter applies the braking effort mainly to the front. 

This causes a large imbalance front to rear causing the front end to dip severely. I also locked the front wheels easily. Not too inspiring if you like driving quickly.

I feel Vauxhall should have fitted rear discs and a better balance front to rear with maybe ABS, but all this costs. And to be fair short wheel base 4*4s can all suffer from some pitching problems.

Power assisted steering is standard on all Frontera models. The steering is good with a decent level of  feel and with an acceptable steering lock for a 4*4.

There is a drivers air bag, the doors have side impact protection and there are pre tensioned front seat belts fitted.

The Frontera also has a transponder style key which is uniquely coded to the car. 
The door locks have deadlocking fitted which is activated with the central locking. All fitted as standard.

Where the Frontera does do well is in the hefty build quality giving weight with height. Basically it would have to be as big as your car to have a bigger impact. Something hitting you such as a family saloon would certainly come off no better than this 4x4. Its not very scientific but might is often judged to be right.

The Frontera is also not on the top 10 'theft list', making it more likely it will be outside your home in the morning.

In general the Frontera is a very good all round working car. It has an excellent return for your pound in diesel consumption, servicing is cheap, reliability is as good as any 4x4 and the residual values are now reasonable. That is for cars purchased more than 30 months old, as new one tend to dip very quickly

You do have to put up with poor performance and the handling, braking is not quite up to saloon car standards. 

This of course to be expected as it is a 4x4 but as I said at the beginning the Frontera is not my ideal car. "I have been as kind as I can".

Usable boot space, both robust and spacious. Very basic though no cosmetic thought gone into it. Design awards it would not win.

For full specifications for the Frontera range click here.