Vauxhall wanted to Break into the 4x4 Market, Isuzu wanted more Sales of their Mu/Amigo Range ... Say Hello to the Vauxhall Frontera
The Frontera has been Produced under many Names Mu,Amigo,Rodeo by Vauxhall, Isuzu and Holden to name a few, But essentially it is an Isuzu but Manufactured in Britain by Vauxhall using British Steel with British Labour and a German built Engine, in fact the only Japanese parts are the electrics!
Mine's an N (95/96) Reg, 2.8TDi in Fern Green (yeah, Bright Green :-s).
It is a Short Wheel Base/Sport (SWB) 2 Door Model, so bear with me if I include/miss out things other Frontera Sports have or don't have.
I Chose the Frontera (again) as it was Cheaper and known to me as Capable and it doesn't look as boxy as most 4x4s do these days!
Plus it's relatively easy to get Parts. Not as easy as Land Rover Parts because the Frontera never had the same popularity or needed the Parts!
Driving Experiences: (On & Off-Road)
A very Smooth Drive at 30mph along the Tarmac, the Coil-Sprung Rear Suspension does dampen the Bump Effect from Joined Sections of Road or Drains which is good for Cornering and Off-Roading. For those coming from an Astra the Ride will seem bumpy but to others from some other 4x4s, you'll be surprised at how solid it is.
The Frontera SWB doesn't like to accelerate hard and will creep up to 70mph in about 8 Seconds on the motorway but once She's there it's very solid. The additional height of a 4x4 makes it easier to see ahead and possibly avoid an incident.
The Fronteras 2.8TDi Engine doesn't like long Up-Hill Gradients and does slow down considerably. But then, I don't know Many Vehicle Engines that do like uphill drives.
Off-Roading the Frontera will go virtually anywhere, She eats the Mud and as long as You keep at a Constant speed You don't need to even contemplate switching into 4wd.
In 4wd the Frontera will attempt to tackle any incline, mud or water you can think of, in most cases You back off before the Frontera has even come close to its limits.
The Coil-Sprung Rear Suspension gives a smoother ride but You still notice the bumps/terrain. (Says He with the bruised head from bouncing around!)
On average the Fronteras' "Safe Depth" for Water is 2.3ft, in reality, You can (I have) get away at 2.7ft (Scary!!) admittedly this is without a Snorkel so I wouldn't recommend it at all (and I do not accept any Responsibility for someone Damaging their Car after Reading this!!).
You have a very clear Dashboard with 6 readouts, rev counter,
Speedometer/Odometer, Battery Voltometer, Fuel Gauge, Oil Gauge & Water Temperature Gauge. All the usual lights underneath the Readout/Dials as well comprising Battery Warning Light, Engine Management Warning Light, 4 Wheel Drive Selected Light, Oil Light and Hazard/Indication Lights.
The Light switches for Sidelights and Headlights are mounted up the Right Side of the Dashboard, different and a pain to replace if they muck up!
The Windscreen Wiper Switches are mounted on the Left side of the Dashboard, yet again, a Possible pain!
The Front seats move Forwards and Back so as To allow basic Height Issues to be addressed and access to the Rear 2 Seats & a Standard Tilt for Back Support.
You've got Electric Windows in the Front, the Rear-Side and Rear-Windscreen can all be removed as well as the Roof Section over the Rear Seats (On some Sports the Rear Roof Section is Canvas and just folds away) this makes it nice for the rare hot days and the wind/noise when the Roof and Windows are off is negligible in the Front, (it also is great for keeping kids quiet!)
The Buttons/Switches for the Heated Rear Windscreen, Electric headlight beam levelling knob, Fog Lights and Electric Side-Mirrors are all easily accessible from the Driver's seat all without having to look for them or having to stretch too far when setting the Frontera up for Yourself.
You've also got twin front map reading lights as well as the standard door activated lights in the front and rear sections.
Air blend heater with four speed fan and air recirculation system (Fancy way of saying The Fan) and its adjustable face level air vents and front side window demist vents this is just as good as AirCon but when You're Static it does get a bit warm at times.
I've got lights on the front, 2 Normal headlights on the Standard Car Body with 2 Spotlights and 2 foglights (Seems better to have Lights in Pairs) on a full front BullBar (Not the A-Frame Polycarbonate/Plasticthingy Bar) which seems to be the Standard fit now.
You've got 2 gear selectors in the Centre Console, one gives the standard 5 forward & Reverse gears. And a Smaller one which gives you the selection of 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive in high & low ratios.
There's enough room inside for 2 kids in the back 2 adults in the front and in the boot a 4man tent & just about everything needed for a (ONE) Nights camping (food/clothes/cooking equip), pack Lightly.
The amount of Legroom for the Rear 2 Passengers is Amazing, it's huge! Certainly a Bonus if You know You're going to be carrying 4 Adults and they won't be cramped up with their knees by their ears like in other 2-Door Vehicles I've owned.
The Boot Area is very Small with the Seats up like in most Sport/SWB 4x4s but certainly Big enough to get a lot in when the Seats are Down, There are also 4 mounted tie-down points that are used when the seats are down to secure big loads, ie; Engine Block or a Snap-On Toolbox.(Well, there should be 4 but 2 of mine are missing :-s )
The Spare wheel could be mounted better as it blocks a chunk out of your rear-view mirror and the Tow-Bar electrics could be placed Higher (I've nearly ripped them off a couple of times and spent a while cleaning the mud out)
Rear-door opens with the Door opening sideways! Not ideal for School Run/Shopping Trips, But it is good for improved Access to the Back to change Your boots after off-Roading.
The Frontera SWB is a Group 12 and You can get Very Reasonable Priced Cover from Adrian Flux. (These guys include Off-Roading,Green Lane Driving and Fording in the Insurance!)
This Frontera has the Standard Immobilizer fitted but can be Modified to accept anything available as long as it's legal, safe and preferably Thatcham Grade 2 or better
There are quite a few engine sizes 2.0i (sport) to 3.2i V6 and the choice between Petrol, Diesel & some are LPG now. I have the 2.8TDi Isuzu Engine in the Sport so it does struggle a bit on constant gradients But I cannot complain yet as it hasn't let me down
When it mattered .... Off-Road !!
(Mine) I can get 600 miles from the tank sometimes but with the rising costs on Fuel I'm looking into Modifications to further increase this amount
235/65R16 .. About £55 each
Now say that You spend £160 for a Low Profile Tyre on another Vehicle, now consider this, Most budget Tyres for 4x4s start from £45 But that's for on-road tyres.
For Off-Road and All-Terrain Tyre Prices they Range from £65 each for Budget Tyres upwards. Not bad at all (and very tempting)
I've currently got the Standard 16" Alloy Rims on this Frontera.
You can pick up a Frontera Sport from around £400 or less for a "TLC Needed" Version up to £5000 for a "Pristine" Conditioned Sport.
The Frontera is Very Easy to Modify, everything From Suspension Lifts, Chassis Lifts, Roll Cage Fitting (There is already a Roll-Cage in the Rear-Section but Some Owner/Drivers do like to Add their own) and Winches can be added safely to the Vehicle
Power-assisted steering is standard on this car.
Since Beginning to Type this Review, I've since Modified The Frontera.(I work fast)
Tyres & Wheels.. 31"x10.5 All Terrain Tyres on 15" Steel Rims. £360 for the Lot!
This has given at least 2" total clearance underneath the 4x4.
A 2" Suspension Lift, giving better Ride Height and Chassis clearance Off-Road. (Now I have to watch my Other Half literally Climb into the seat!hee hee)
Limo-Tint on the Rear Windows improving Privacy for Passengers.
A Newer 2.8TDi Engine as the Original one developed a Piston knock. Now this should've been expensive but at £200, I'm not complaining!