Vauxhall Antara - the SUV with the built in bike rack

Vauxhall announced prices for its new Antara SUV, coming in July, this week and it is clear from the way the press release is worded that the company thinks the most exciting thing about it is that it's a vehicle with "SUV STYLE AND QUALITY FOR LESS THAN £20,000!" But for me, Antara's key selling point is the built-in bike rack (see a series of pictures of the rack after the jump).

Called the Flex-Fix, this integrated bike carrier system adds £475 to the SUV (and is the vehicle's only option). The FlexFix is also available on the New Corsa. All it is is a folding bike rack that slides in and out of the rear bumper, but that's such a cool thing to have on a car. It makes mountain biking trips that much easier - not to mention driving the Antara to do some shopping and then biking from store to store instead of walking or - yech - having to drive around, finding a parking spot each time.

Autoblog has a lot more on the Flex-Fix, but the sad news is that GM unveiled the new Vue this year and here we are still hoping to see a cool like feature added to the American version of the Antara. Couldn't it at least have been on the Vue Green Line? What a tease.

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[Source: Vauxhall]


* Vauxhall's new compact 4x4 starts at just £19,850
* Style, driving dynamics and quality aim to tempt buyers from larger SUVs
* Biggest selling model averages a hatchback-rivalling 37.7mpg

With its stylish looks, high quality interior and massive level of standard equipment, the new Vauxhall Antara is the sort of car which could start to make drivers of bigger SUVs start to think they've been short changed – especially since the Antara's prices start at only £19,850 on-the-road.

On sale now and due to arrive in showrooms from July, the Antara comes in three distinctive trim levels, each offering comprehensive levels of standard equipment which could cost up to £6,000 if ordered as options on some rivals.

Even the entry-level Antara E has standard kit that you'd expect in a much more expensive car, and has a quality feel that makes some larger 4x4s look decidedly down-market. Included in the price is ESP, Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive, a Descent Control System, air conditioning, remote control ultrasonic alarm, front fog lights, silver-coloured roof rails, 17-inch alloys and a CD with MP3 compatibility and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

Moving up to the Antara S, additional standard equipment includes 18-inch alloys, climate control, heated front seats, cruise control, Automatic Lighting Control, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, heat-reflective windscreen, self levelling suspension and chrome detailing on the door handles and exhaust tailpipe.

The top model Antara SE is exceptionally well specified, with a DVD sat-nav, six-disc CD changer with MP3 capability, a built-in Bluetooth phone kit, xenon headlamps, leather seat facings, electro-chromatic anti-dazzle rear-view mirror and electrically foldable door mirrors, front and rear parking distance sensors and an on-board tyre pressure monitoring system.

The only option will be the innovative Flex-Fix integrated bike carrier system, as first seen on the New Corsa and priced at £475. This special rack slides out of the rear bumper in seconds and allows two bikes to be carried safely without having to worry about storing and fitting complicated roof bar systems or attaching complicated frames to the tailgate.

As well as the visible equipment, Antara promises to be a great car to drive, thanks to speed-sensitive power steering, Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive system and dynamically-tuned sports chassis. Whereas some SUVs have a tendency to pitch and wallow through bends, Antara has been designed to offer rewarding, car-like handling.

The Antara operates as a normal front-wheel drive car in everyday use, providing the sure-footed handling which most drivers are familiar with. The car automatically switches to four-wheel drive when the car's ESP electronics sense that the extra traction is needed. As well as giving the driver greater reassurance, the set-up delivers economy benefits over permanent four-wheel drive systems – delivering 37.7mpg on the combined cycle for the 2.0CDTi manual and producing 198g/km of CO2 – comparable to similarly-sized hatchbacks and estates with petrol engines.

Antara E is available with a choice of a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and manual gearbox or a 2.0-litre CDTi 16v diesel with a manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. The Antara S and SE are available with the 2.0-litre CDTi engine with a manual or auto 'box.

A full breakdown of trim levels and prices is given below:

Antara E 2.4i 16v - manual - £19,850
Antara E 2.0 CDTi 16v - manual - £20,995
Antara E 2.0 CDTi 16v - automatic - £22,395
Antara S 2.0 CDTi 16v - manual - £22,595
Antara S 2.0 CDTi 16v - automatic - £23,995
Antara SE 2.0 CDTi 16v - manual - £26,295
Antara SE 2.0 CDTi 16v - automatic - £27,695

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