Road Test: Vauxhall Grandland X Turbo Elite
Long suspicious by its absence, can Vauxhall’s Qashqai rival muscle in on a crowded sector? Alex Grant finds out.
SECTOR Medium SUV PRICE £26,865 FUEL 52.3mpg CO2 124g/km
Amid all the changes at Vauxhall under PSA ownership, the Grandland X feels like a very logical addition to the range. This is the Astra-sized SUV the brand needed for years – a rival to big-volume cars like the Qashqai, Kuga and Sportage, and a vital component for attracting user-choosers. Given the popularity of the smaller Mokka X, there’s clearly a space for this to fill.
It’s a predictable offer, not that this is a bad thing. The pumped-up Astra styling works well, with an athletic profile and sharply-creased bodywork to avoid looking overly bulky. But similarities to its stablemate are only skin-deep. Stemming from a partnership signed in 2012, it’s platform-shared with the Peugeot 3008, having more in common with PSA’s SUVs than visually similar Vauxhalls.
Not that most would know. Aside from the rebranded Peugeot key, any hint of the 3008 is well hidden. The cabin, with its plentiful black plastic, flat glass infotainment panel, and chrome-accented switchgear, all feels typically Vauxhall, and well built if a little dark compared to Peugeot’s stylishly-executed new interiors. Its only quirk is the infotainment screen, which is lifted from PSA’s products and still has the touchscreen climate control menus as well as the physical controls underneath.
This is one of the largest cars in its class, and generously sized as a result. There’s plenty of head and legroom for adults in both rows, space for two child seats in the back, and a competitively-sized boot with a movable floor, flat-folding seats and powered tailgate in Elite spec. Elite versions also get the panoramic roof, which helps brighten the interior, and the ‘ergonomic seats’ from the Astra and Insignia – it’s markedly better over long distances than the only slightly-smaller Mokka X.
All of the fleet-relevant equipment is included here too; navigation with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as an alternative, and Vauxhall’s clever OnStar system with on-board WiFi, built-in telematics and live assistance from its call centre in Luton to find addresses or call the emergency services. That it can be integrated with PSA’s infotainment suggests it must be due for Citroën, Peugeot and DS products in the not-too-distant future.
Engine options are limited to a 128bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol, tested here, and a 1.6-litre turbo diesel, both from PSA rather than the Vauxhall line-up. The small petrol is a good fit, despite the size of car it’s tasked with moving, with enough pulling power to move a family and their luggage, while offering 40mpg at motorway speeds. While the diesel is slightly cheaper, CO2 emissions are only 13g/km lower than the petrol, making this surprisingly tax-efficient by comparison.
The downside of Elite versions is the 19-inch wheels affect both fuel economy and ride comfort, making the Grandland X very sensitive to rough surfaces at low speeds, though it settles down on the motorway. It’s possible to step down to 18s by adding the off-road pack, which adds all-terrain traction control with mud and snow tyres, the latter meaning there’s no CO2 benefit.
Actually, the only real surprise with the Grandland X is that Vauxhall doesn’t see this shifting its fleet offer as much as its closest rivals have for their respective model ranges. Only a quarter are expected to go to company car drivers, with the traditional Astra and Insignia still holding the fort in fleet. If the demand for SUVs elsewhere is anything to go by, that could prove to be a conservative estimate.
What We Think:
A competitive, if slightly predictable, entrant to a crowded class. Vauxhall might be a latecomer, but it’s got plenty of brand awareness to underpin what should be an important addition to the range.
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