Given the turmoil in the world’s car industry, the faltering global economy, falling sales, demonization of diesel engines and in the UK that touchy issue about Brexit, Vauxhall’s latest advertising strapline for their Grandland X mid-sized SUV, ‘Keeps Calm – Carries On’, looks like sensible advice – if we chose to take it, writes David Miles.
All sectors of the new car market except SUVs show a decline in demand so Vauxhall is well placed with their trio of SUVs, the Mokka X, Crossland X and Grandland X to compete for sales.
Although the reduction in demand for diesel powered models in all classes continues bringing the latest lower emission 1.5-litre 130hp turbodiesel engine to market in the latest Grandland X range will appeal to high mileage users where fuel economy and company car tax rates are still important factors.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that the latest diesel engines for most brands will meet the current known legislative demands for many years until petrol and diesel powered cars are banned altogether. My advice is if you want a diesel model do as Vauxhall implies ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
The Vauxhall Grandland X was introduced to UK customers just over a year ago and under the brand’s new ownership by the PSA-Group, the model uses the same EMP2 platform, engines, transmissions and other components as the award winning Peugeot 3008, the DS 7 Crossback and the just introduced Citroen C5 Aircross mid-sized SUVs.
The competition is strong in this mid-sized SUV sector from other brands headed by the Nissan Qashqai, the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Skoda Karoq and many more.
Although the PSA Group of mid-sized SUVs all use the same platform and bodyshell, styling wise the Peugeot, Citroen and DS models look a bit more glitzy as the Grandland X looks more conservative both outside and in. Other than the new C5 Aircross with its signature cushioned suspension and comfort seats, the Grandland X offers the most compliant ride which a lot of customers prefer, especially those spending long periods behind the wheel.
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Unlike the Peugeot 3008 the Grandland X doesn’t have a digital cockpit layout, its more conventional which I like.
The touchscreen is mounted centrally into the fascia panel, not mounted proud of the dashboard, and thankfully it has separate heating controls mounted below the screen which are much easier to use than with Peugeot/Citroen/DS similar models. However the heating/ventilation distribution outlets have to be adjusted via the touchscreen.
Unfortunately given the recent cold spell no heated front seats are included in this spec level, they are a £200 option, or a £550 option if you want heated rear seats and heated steering wheel as well.
The quality of the interior is generally good and the driving position ideal with a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustments. Rear seat legroom is sufficient but not generous but still better than a Qashqai. There is a generous sized boot ranging from 514 to 1,652-litres.
Outside the front has a conservatively styled bland face. The side profile has a rising waistline, coupe style roof lowered towards the rear of the car and a neat spoiler links nicely to the large rear tailgate. The handling is well controlled, ride quality comfortable and it’s easy and well balanced to drive whether fully loaded or not.
The nitty-gritty of this Grandland X model is the use of the latest fuel efficient, cleaner CO2 and NOx emission turbodiesel engine. With 10hp more than the outgoing 1.6-litre unit, the new 1.5-litre 130hp turbodiesel feels livelier and more responsive although with the 6-speed manual gearbox you still need to make full use of the gear ratios to keep it in its most responsive powerband. With 300Nm of torque available from 1,750rpm, for it to be responsive for acceleration you need to keep the turbocharger blowing.
Drop below the 1,750rpm level and the response is ‘flat’ until the revs pick up. However pottering around town at low speeds the unit is very flexible and smooth, it just takes time to pick-up momentum moving from low to medium and then higher speeds. Winding country road driving I found fourth and fifth gears to be optimum and that was confirmed by the gearchange prompt light. Open road driving varied between fifth and sixth gear ratios with top gear happiest when over 60mph was reached.
Tall gear ratios are an important element in meeting new emission standards and improving fuel economy. This Grandland X 1.5-litre model has a new WLTP Combined Cycle figure of 55.4mpg and my week of test driving saw an overall average of 49.7mpg. With CO2 emissions of just 110g/km current VED First Year diesel rate road tax is £165 before reverting to the Standard rate of £140.
From April the rates change for this RDE2 compliant engine to a First Year rate of £150 and then £145 Standard rate for year two onwards. Company car drivers will currently pay 27% Benefit-in-Kind tax and that goes up to 30% from April this yearwhich might further dent the appeal of diesel power for already highly taxed business car drivers.
Vauxhall Grandland X Tech Line Nav, 1.5 Turbo D, 130hp, manual £25,080
Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 130hp, 300Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual
Performance: 119mph, 0-60mph 10.2-seconds, WLTP Combined Cycle 55.4mpg (49.7mpg on test)
CO2 110g/km, VED First year road tax £165 then £140 Standard rate, BiK company car tax 27%
Insurance Group: 14E Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,477mm, W 1,856mm, H 1,609mm, boot/load space 514 to 1,652-litres, braked towing weight 1,400kg, 5-doors/5-seats
For: An important mid-sized SUV model in the Vauxhall line-up courtesy of its partnership with PSA Peugeot-Citroen, high spec, brilliant PSA Group engine options, roomy, comfortable, practical and well laid out logical and easy to use controls
Against: Doesn’t have the unlimited mileage warranty of the Peugeot 3008, some people might find the front exterior styling rather bland and the same applies to the fascia layout.
© David Miles