Vauxhall Grandland X SUV review
"The Vauxhall Grandland X may not be the most scintillating SUV on the market, but it ticks a lot of family-friendly boxes"
- Handsome looks
- Easy to drive
- Rear visibility limited
- Unlikely to set pulses racing
- Less stylish than the Peugeot 3008
The market for mid-sized SUVs must surely be close to saturation point. With choices including the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Renault Kadjar, Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca all competing for the same customers, SUV buyers never had it so good.
In fact, such is the demand for choice in the SUV market, it continues to diversify with models like the style-conscious Toyota C-HR offering a less expensive alternative to premium SUV-coupes like the BMW X2 and Audi Q2. Vauxhall's strategy is to straddle the sector by offering the small Crossland X, bigger Mokka X and this larger-still Grandland X that crowns its entire car range.
As this is the brand's premium SUV, you get a high driving position, a good view out, an appealingly imposing stance and sufficiently desirable looks to match the competition. It shares its mechanical backbone with the Peugeot 3008 and is available with similar engines, the smallest of which is a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol that produces 128bhp and returns around 45mpg. The flagship 1.6-litre petrol engine is the peppiest engine in the range, managing around 40mpg. It’s only available on the top-spec Ultimate trim and costs several thousand pounds more than the smaller petrol, partly because it only comes with an automatic gearbox.
There's also a 128bhp diesel that officially returns over 55mpg when paired with the six-speed manual transmission. A range-topping 2.0-litre diesel engine was discontinued in early 2021.
Vauxhall offers a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic with the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel. Not every SUV buyer wants four-wheel drive and Vauxhall doesn't even offer it as an option in the standard range. You do have the option of the IntelliGrip system, which provides off-road driving modes via a clever traction-control system.
As of early 2020, a pair of plug-in hybrids are part of the Grandland X lineup. The flagship Hybrid4 has four-wheel drive thanks to an electric motor on the rear axle. It’s the quickest model in the range, with a total output of 296bhp, and manages up to 35 miles of electric-only driving according to Vauxhall. It's expensive, though, and the biggest cost saving (a reduction in Benefit-in-Kind liability) will only make real sense for company-car drivers. The front-wheel-drive hybrid model has a single electric motor, which combines with the petrol engine to produce 222bhp. We think this version will better suit most buyers, as despite the reduced performance, it still manages nearly 200mpg and up to 34 miles on electric power, and is significantly cheaper to buy.
The Grandland X’s dashboard design will be familiar to anyone who’s sat in the latest Vauxhall Insignia or Vauxhall Astra, so it’s a plainly styled – if well-built and ergonomically sound – place to sit. All models come with alloy wheels, an infotainment touchscreen, climate control, reversing sensors, traffic-sign recognition, cruise control and auto-dipping headlights.
That’s a decent amount of kit, but it’s worth going for Business Edition Nav. This brings a plusher infotainment screen complete with sat nav, autonomous emergency braking and Vauxhall’s Versatility Pack, which adds a ski hatch to the split-folding rear seats, a centre armrest and underfloor storage in the boot. Strangely, Business Edition Nav is actually cheaper than SE, despite including more equipment. There are also SRi Nav, Elite Nav and Ultimate trims, but these are more expensive and don't represent such strong value for money.
Exhibiting such a rational, conventional approach elsewhere, it probably won’t surprise you to learn the Grandland X is thoroughly sensible to drive, too. The driving position is high, so the view out the front is decent, and while this leads to a sense of sitting on the Grandland X rather than being hunkered down in it, many motorists will prefer feeling elevated above ordinary family cars.
On the motorway, the Grandland X is a relaxing car to drive. It's not exciting, though. Its slightly notchy gearchange will frustrate if you try to hustle it along country roads, while considerable body lean and a lack of feedback from the light steering mean there's little to reward your driving enthusiasm. There's no doubt whatsoever that the Vauxhall was designed for comfort rather than fun and the powerful Hybrid4 isn't any better to drive, despite its surprising turn of straight-line speed.
That’s not inherently a bad thing, however. If you don’t have petrol coursing through your veins and want a sensible, practical and quiet family car with a good view out and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the Grandland X makes a lot of sense. It struggles to offer a more complete package than the Peugeot 3008, though.
We reckon the latter is a far more stylish car inside and out, and it shares its fundamental mechanicals – as well as a start price – with the Grandland X.