So… here’s the second all new model in the Vauxhall range to be based on a PSA platform – Grandland X. Once again, as per the Crossland X, it was developed and signed off long before the change of ownership.
This one has to be good…
I will confess after driving the new Crossland I was worried about the fact I had possibly driven the future of Vauxhall. I wont go so far as to say the Crossland X was a dreadful car… more of a forgetful and characterless car with a strange looking body shell. A couple of months ago, I attended a launch for the Country Tourer and Grandland X. Sadly, I spent more time in the former so opted to reserve judgement for the Grandland once a bit of time had been spent behind the wheel.
Well I have and can report with a mainly complimentary point of view. The Grandland is based on the same platform as the whacky Peugeot 3008 but diluted and re-engineered for a conservative Vauxhall customer. The company has been late coming to the SUV sector if you opt to forget (as most of us chose to) the unspectacular Antara from a few years back. Rival brands have surged off into the distance with the likes of Kuga, Qashqai and so on. Vauxhall have some serious catching up to do if they are to stem the blood loss of haemorrhaging sales and its this class where the battle takes place.
“It looks exactly like what it is… an SUV Vauxhall for the masses and for what it may loose in wow factor it makes up in its perceived quality”
Whereby the 3008 is bold and almost overbearing in terms of presence and styling, the Vauxhall is almost the polar opposite. Though i’m not saying its dull and boring I cannot say its striking either. It looks exactly like what it is… an SUV Vauxhall for the masses and for what it may loose in wow factor it makes up in its perceived quality. All the panels and its paint finish look every bit as good as rivals, the way the doors open and close with a reassuring whump sound give the driver a nice reminder of solidity. Staying on the quality theme – the interior feels pretty good too.
Once again, the design is trad Vauxhall with familiar buttons, switches etc to other models current in the range. There have been some improvements too especially the column stalks for example. Despite them being the same looking items found on current Astra or Insignia cars, the quality of action is now superb whereby they once felt rather cheap. The theme of well damped solid feeling controls continues across the dashboard, almost everything in the drivers eye-line feels tough and built for going the distance. Visibility and driving position is worthy of praise also.
I found the front seat comfort fairly impressive. There’s plenty of scope for adjustment and the leather trim felt really good. Upon first entering the car you note the smell of leather and carpet – I really appreciate that in a vehicle. Sadly, I found the seat heating to be feeble and nowhere near as instant as the current Insignia I run. All is not lost though, the lateral support and long distance comfort on offer brought no complaints. The Grandland also has good ergonomics and a fine driving position. Visibility is great and night time reflections from the fascia is minimal.
“Out on the road the car seems to do reasonably well with its three cylinder 130PS 1.2 engine. Refinement is good and the transmission is well matched to the engine”
Performance wise however the car does rather well. Unlike some triple engines this one doesn’t sound like its going to explode when you push on really hard. It has a pleasing off beat thrum sound to it and vibrations from the pedals or steering wheel are virtually non-existent – a very well engineered drive-line I thought. The car zips along without fuss and providing you keep the rev counter above 1200rpm there’s enough torque (230Nm) to keep gear-changes down to a minimum. In the town or out on the road it bowls along nicely… I really do like this PSA sourced driveline.
“Its steering isn’t set up for the sporting, you find yourself correcting the dead ahead position a little more than you’d like”
Ride comfort can be variable. Smooth motorways bring an excellent level of cruising refinement, so much so that at the legal seventy you can barely hear the engine spinning. Concrete topped surfaces cause notable tyre roar while deep ruts heralds a noisy suspension into the cabin. Its steering isn’t set up for the sporting, you find yourself correcting the dead ahead position a little more than you’d like. Turn in body control is good enough and despite the rather lifeless feel when cruising the rack quickens up when some nifty lock inputs are fed.
Generally speaking the Grandland X drives really well. Its very easy to operate and most impressive of all is the way it feels almost premium. Its priced higher than most rivals but you need to bear in mind that it comes well appointed inside. My only concerns behind the driving seat comes in the form of yet another over sized cumbersome gear lever and a slightly loose feeling shift action. The test cars optional adaptive LED headlamps are praiseworthy thanks a superb spread of beam that makes back lanes less scary to navigate in the deepest of night.
“Overall the Grandland X feels solid, safe and secure on the road – exactly all of the criteria required for a family orientated car”
In Elite Nav trim the car is especially well equipped. You’ll find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with OnStar, Lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. I will note that the lane departure system is rather over-eager in action and tended to switch this system off. Overall the Grandland X feels solid, safe and secure on the road – exactly all of the criteria required for a family orientated car. Boot space is good enough too and rear seats fold almost flat not to mention the floor with its dual level feature meaning you can hide your valuables out of sight.
So is it good enough to really stand proud against rivals? Well on paper not really… but that’s not to say it shouldn’t be considered. Its very well built, feels very plush in Elite trim and is a joy to motorway cruise with. A good network of dealers mean the support is never far away and the cracking driveline in 1.2 petrol form reinforces the saying that good things come in little packages. The Grandland X needs to do well, but I think with the right marketing it will bring in some badly needed retail interest and sales.
OUR RATING: 7/10
The Humble Opinion:
Vauxhall’s “Johnny – come – lately” approach to the large SUV has lost the company some serious sales. But at least now they have market penetration in all of the leading sectors. With the Mokka X and Crossland X they have a product for the smaller cross over SUV and now with Grandland X being in the showrooms they have an antidote for Ford and Nissan rivals.
In a nutshell, the Grandland X isn’t any better or more capable than its aforementioned rivals. That said however it drives very well, seems robust and in higher level trims feels quite posh. Build quality is very agreeable for a volume car and the refinement on offer so long as the road is good is also very impressive.
It doesn’t have the flair and wow factor of the Peugeot its based on, but I think that’s a good thing. Some say the Peugeot 3008 is just a touch too bold. Vauxhall have rightly toned it down enough for it to stand well in the showrooms and not offend the conservative mindset of the loyal brand customer.
I was most surprised with the Grandland X. The best analogy I can think of is that it isn’t going to win the fight outright in the SUV ring… but good enough to give the likes of the Qashqai a bloody nose at least.
MODEL TESTED: Vauxhall Grandland X Elite Nav 1.2
PRICE: £26,660 excluding options
Driveline: 1199cc 12v 3 cylinder turbo petrol & 6 speed manual
Power / Torque: 130PS / 230Nm
Economy: *52.3 mpg combined (49.4mpg on test)
Co2 Output: 124g/km
Performance: *0 – 60 in 11.1 seconds with 117mph max
*= Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
WHATS GREAT ABOUT IT?
- Looks stylish and smart in the right colour
- Generally very smooth and refined
- Excellent seat comfort
- Spacious and practical
- Good performance
- Well equipped
- Easy to drive and operate
- Impressive fit and finish
WHAT GRATES ABOUT IT?
- Noticeable turbo lag
- Horrible gear knob shape
- High price tag for a car in a cut throat volume SUV sector
- Steering lacks feel and precision
- No hybrid or four wheel drive version
- Parent ownership news headlines may hamper its opportunities
For further information on the Vauxhall Grandland X CLICK HERE