Opel Frontera (1991-2004): On The Frontline

An early precursor to the Grandland X and Opel’s first gambit in the then nascent European SUV market the Opel Frontera first hit showrooms in 1991 in 3- and 5-door version across Europe.

Essentially a General Motors badge-engineering job based on the group’s Japanese partner’s Isuzu MU (AKA Wizard and Rodeo) compact SUV, the Frontera was also sold in the UK, Australia and other markets under GM’s Vauxhall, Holden and Chevrolet brands, respectively. Proving popular with customers and sold in two generations, the similarly Isuzu-based Frontera ‘B’ follow-up was then introduced in 1998.

A rugged SUV with chunky tyres and wheel-arches and a no-nonsense and un-ostentatiously utilitarian appeal, the Frontera was built on a tough body-on-chassis platform with similarly rugged yet unsophisticated torsion front and live axle rear suspension. A more authentically off-road capable SUV than the more refined and domesticated crossovers that succeeded it, the Frontera featured a longitudinal four-wheel-drive set-up with a low-speed transfer case for more demanding conditions.

Powered by a broad range of petrol and diesel 4-cylinder and V6 engines ranging between 2.0- to 3.5-litres, the first generation Frontera ‘A’ 5-door version also included an Opel-developed 2.4-litre borrowed from the Opel Manta coupe. Never a quick vehicle by any measure in any guise, the Frontera was however a capable off-road and towing machine, with a low-revving torque-biased delivery. The Frontera 2.4L’s 8-valve SOHC engine developed 123BHP at just 4,800rpm and 143lb/ft at 2,400rpm, and in 5-door guise was capable of 0-100km/h in an estimated 18.6-seconds and a top speed of 153km/h.

Bowing out in 2004, the Frontera was to be replaced by the Chevrolet Captiva-based Opel Antara in 2006, and then the modern Grandland X in 2017. Similarly based on a borrowed platform, the Grandland X however used Peugeot architecture, in reflection of Opel’s historic move from GM ownership to becoming part of the French PSA group, now known as Stellantis.

Specifications: Opel Frontera 2.4L 5-door (1991-95)

  • Engine: 2.4-litre, 8-valve SOHC, in-line 4-cylinders
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual, four-wheel-drive
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 123 (125) [92] @4,800rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 143 (195) @2,400rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 18.6-seconds
  • Top speed: 153km/h
  • Length: 4,692mm
  • Width: 1,764mm
  • Height: 1,753mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,670mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,455 / 1,460mm
  • Ground clearance: 230mm
  • Luggage volume, min/max: 430-/1,570-litres
  • Weight: 1,725kg
  • Suspension, F/R: Torsion / live axle
  • Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs / drums
  • Tyres: 235/70R16