Opel Frontera B. Isuzu MU. Vauxhall Frontera B. Isuzu Rodeo. Honda Jazz. Official “This is not the first time I see potential” car.
Opel Frontera B. The car that brought into the collective mind the idea that Opel cars are designed during a coffee break, by people who have no idea and who don’t care about cars. And one day, a guy at GM heard that a new concept car was being launched: the Cross-over. Cars that are both capable off-road and somewhat civilized on asphalt. They have small engines and can be used by the average buyer. Except these people didn’t know anything about how to make a cross-over or a car in general, but they saw the Rav4 concept and liked what they did. So they got on the phone and called Isuzu and ordered their own crossover. Actually, I distorted reality a bit because Isuzu actually launched the Isuzu MU (Mysterious Utility) in Japan and then looked for distributors in North America, Australia, and Europe. And GM, with the Opel, Holden, and Vauxhall brands under their arm, were the perfect victims.
And that’s where the fun begins in Europe. The Opel Frontera A was assembled in Luton, England, in the early 1990s. A time when the British car industry produced anything but quality. In fact, they were so good and were turning out such quality rubbish that the factory closed temporarily and production was moved to IBC Luton, the commercial vehicle factory for Vauxhall / Opel. Basically, the Opel Frontera B came with few improvements without the first generation and somehow tried to reconcile the goat and the cabbage. Except it was the goat and only stayed the goat.
Opel Frontera B Engines
- 2.2 MPI of 130 horsepower – I’ve also discussed this garbage of an engine in the Omega and possibly Vectra article. Just like a country wedding participant that drinks 5 bottles of rakia, this engine gets hot on effort and burns its bolts, cracks the engine block, stuff like that and more. And if you use it more than 3 miles a day, it starts to get oily. Literally.
- 3.2 V6 of 175 horsepower – An Isuzu-derived engine that comes from an era where people don’t fuss about fuel prices or the notion of “consumption”. A fair, reliable, powerful engine, but also addicted to LPG.
2.2 DTI of 118 horsepower – Normally I’d put it in the “fail” category and pass. With a bulldozer. But it’s the only diesel, and the only reliable engine is a 3.2 monster so we’ll have to see how we patch this one. ECU and PCV valve issues don’t send cars equipped with this engine straight to the graveyard, the injection pump does. It costs so much to buy and fit that 99% of the time it means instagib. Or the Frontier. What to do in this case? Try to go with the tank as full as possible. It won’t do much good, but atleast it’ll prolong the inevitable.
Opel Frontera B General Issues
- Rust, rust, rust. I sometimes write that Dacia cars are built between two mouthfuls of alcohol, but the British built their cars in the 90s in between heavy drinking. Built with a chisel and a hammer, all that anti-corrosion treatment was most likely drunk by the employees so the Opel Frontera B is the rural rust champion.
- Not to mention the electronics. Vauxhall management in Luton felt it wasn’t worth the quality wiring and plugs and decided to take the wiring from Tonka trucks and put them straight into production, on the Opel Frontera. Good lads, pity they’re breathing. Issues with everything from alternators to light bulbs so check as many functions and stuff as possible to make it work. Because they all won’t work anyway.
- If you want to get a Frontera B to go off-road with, better go for a Frontera A. The second generation is lower and more unstable, and it’s not even a permanent 4×4 but it’s rear-wheel drive and can be 4×4 coupled.
- If you’re a BDSM fan, you’ll feel right at home inside a Frontera. You’ll sit in a box and occasionally get slapped by a piece of plastic, because back in the 90s the concept of quality control was what it sounded like – just a concept.
- Transmissions, both manual and automatic, suffer from oily incontinence and pee on them as I did on myself when I drank 8 beers in a bar and walked home. And as you get closer to home, the harder it presses down on you, I succeeded and peed myself. Why does our bladder press harder the closer we get to home?
Opel Frontera B Verdict
A good-looking, spirited and square car. Except that that aggressive look comes at the price of the reliability of British cars from the 1990s and 2000s. It was a proto-crossover, a car that entered when the segment was still in its infancy. Only it quickly became the official “Potential I’ve seen before” car. Reliability issues weren’t fixed as the years went by and look how the Frontera went from an interesting proposition in the car market to one of the cars that sat in the back seat.
Which engines do I recommend? The 3.2 petrol is the most reliable but it puts out so much fuel and costs so much in tax that I have serious doubts about it for the next 10 years when it can be registered as a classic car. And on the internet, most of the ads come with the 2.2 diesel so God help me!
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