Vauxhall's stylish and trendy Frontera Sport 4x4 is going to the top of the luxury class with the new option of smooth "get-up-and-go" V6 power and interior comfort more usually associated with an up-market saloon.

The addition of the 3.2 litre V6 24v engine means two-door Sport buyers now have three-engine choices -- 2.2 16v petrol and 2.2 DTi turbo diesel are the other options.

For the 2001 model year the new Sport V6 takes on board the extra touch of style and refinement previously restricted to the Frontera Estate Limited models.

This means that the Sport RS V6 features a tiltable steering column as standard, driver's seat height adjuster, leather covered steering wheel and integral front fog lights.

It also gets air conditioning, tap-up/tap-down cruise control and electronic anti-lock braking. Also standard is a driver information centre comprising all the features of a multi-function display plus trip computer and check control functions.

The V6 takes the shift-on-the-move selection switch from the rest of the range, allowing for a change from 2WD to 4WD at speeds of up to 62mph.

Frontera is pleasantly quiet inside - indeed it is quieter by about 50 per cent compared to the model it replaced in the autumn of 1998. Sport RS V6 has tilt/removable front and rear glass sunroofs which make the already-bright interior light and airy as well.

Audio equipment is a top CDR 500 stereo radio/CD player with remote display and six speakers, coupled with a radio data system (RDS EON) with a traffic programme. The roof-mounted aerial is flexible.

An exterior style pack standard only with Sport RS V6 raises the 4x4's image with a body coloured soft front style bar with sidesteps and long range driving lights. Mudflaps help keep the lower body panels clean, as well as making life easier for following vehicles in bad weather. Two-coat metallic paint is standard.

The V6 engine available in manual form returns maximum power of 205PS at 5400rpm and maximum torque of 290 Nm (214 lb. ft) at 3000rpm.

Top speed is 114 mph and fuel consumption figures are:

  • urban:
    15.7 mpg

  • extra urban:
    26.9 mpg

  • combined:
    21.4 mpg

  • CO2 in the combined economy cycle is 316 g/km.

    The V6 engine features a variable intake manifold to promote strong torque build up lower down the rev band, sustained output through the mid range and plenty of muscle at high revs. As well as delivering unrivalled driveability on and off road, V6 Frontera Sport offers substantial towing power -- with a maximum towing weight of 2400 kg. Trailer noseweight is 112 kg. Unladen weight is 1786 kg.

    Rack and pinion steering allows for passenger car levels of feel and directness and the amount of power-assistance is calibrated to reduce kickback when travelling over bumpy surfaces at low speed while retaining high responsiveness at higher speeds.

    The coil sprung, five-link rear suspension features an additional fifth transverse link to give greater axle location over the full range of travel. This is particularly beneficial over uneven surfaces.

    In safety terms Frontera V6 is highly equipped. Driver and front passenger full-size airbags are standard. The door chambers contain twin side-impact beams and the passenger safety cell sits on a strengthened ladder-frame chassis which has been well proven as the toughest chassis for the work the vehicle may have to perform.

    "Body on frame" construction, as opposed to the unibody method, was selected for the Frontera to give the best levels of rigidity, stability and durability.

    There are burst-proof door locks and the doors are designed to be anti-jam in an accident.

    Frontera has height adjustable and pyrotechnic body-lock inertia-reel front seatbelts. Front and rear seats have fully adjustable head restraints.

    Vauxhall's Frontera Sport RS V6 comes with a three year/60,000 mile warranty and three years of Vauxhall assistance.

    The on-the-road price of just £19,995 makes Frontera V6 dramatically competitive with its principal 4x4 opponents.

    Insurance groupings are 9E for all models except the Estate Limited 2.2DTi l6v model which is 10E and the top of the range V6 models (12E).

    Frontera is produced at the IBC manufacturing plant in Luton where a £100 million investment two years ago ensured it is built to the highest standards to satisfy the discerning European RV buyer. Next year Frontera production moves to Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

    Robert Gutsche, Frontera product manager said: "The Estate versions of Frontera have traditionally been the best sellers, taking more than two thirds of sales last year. With the new Sport V6 we expect to see an increase in three-door owners, because we have reacted to potential customers who have asked us to produce a more powerful, versatile Sport model."