Launched in 2018, the Vauxhall Grandland X was never the most scintillating SUV on the market, but it sold well. More than 70,000 found homes in the UK, along with some 300,000 in Europe.
So-called C-SUVs are the biggest single sector in the UK, accounting for one-in-six of all new vehicles sold. Popular rivals include the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.
For 2022, Vauxhall has treated the Grandland X to a facelift. For starters, the “heavily revised” model loses it ‘X’ and is now just a “Grandland”.
More importantly, Vauxhall has managed to transform a plain crossover into something with genuine kerb appeal thanks to design cues taken from its smaller sibling, the Mokka.
Most notably, the introduction of the brand’s bold new face – the distinctive ‘Vizor’ front end, already seen in the Mokka and also an essential styling element of the upcoming all-new Astra.
Featuring a single smooth panel that runs between the smart new adaptive IntelliLux LED Pixel Light headlights, it houses the new Griffin logo, sensors and radar for the driver assistance technologies and gives the car a cleaner, more modern image.
The rear LED lights feature a ‘double wing’ design inside a smoke-coloured rear lamp cluster. Other changes include black door mirror caps and a roof spoiler, while some models get a black roof and high gloss roof rails.
The interior has also been extensively reworked too, with a dashboard built around Vauxhall’s twin-screen Pure Panel, which includes a driver’s digital instrument display and an infotainment screen. It’s not flash, but it’s attractive, while the cabin is generally well put together and boasts soft touch surfaces high up.
Depending on which of the three trims you choose (Design, GS Line and Ultimate), the digital instrument cluster is available with either 7.0-inch or 12-inch displays, while the central touchscreen comes in 7.0-inch or 10-inch sizes.
Elsewhere, there are comfortable new seats up front, and the extensive suite of safety and driver assistance features available include new ‘Night Vision’ technology, which uses infra-red cameras to highlight pedestrians and animals in the digital instrument display, and is available in a Vauxhall for the first time.
There’s also Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), cruise control, speed sign recognition, active lane keeping, driver drowsiness alert and Advanced Park Assist with a 360-degree panoramic camera.
Priced from £25,810 to £37,375, the new Grandland is available with conventional petrol and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid (Hybrid-e) with an electric-only range of up to 39 miles, making it capable of tackling a typical day’s driving for most UK motorists.
The 1.2-litre petrol develops 128bhp with CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km. Emissions for the 1.5-litre diesel (also 128bhp) are 133g/km, while the PHEV (a 177bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and 109bhp electric motor combining to produce 223bhp) emits just 31 g/km of CO2.
In theory the Hybrid-e is capable of up to 192mpg (depending on whether it’s kept fully charged and the length of journey), while the diesel can manage up to 54.3mpg and the petrol 45.6mpg.
The PHEV is the fastest of the trio (0-60mph in 8.9 seconds), with the petrol at 10.3s and diesel, 12.3s.
We tested the petrol and plug-in hybrid versions of the new Grandland, the former powered by the efficient three-cylinder 1.2-litre unit also used widely across the Peugeot and Citroen ranges.
Interestingly, because Vauxhall is part of the same group as the French brands (Stellantis) , the Grandland shares the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C5 Aircross SUVs.
Anyway, the petrol engine is punchy and smooth, delivering more power than its small capacity might suggest, and the official fuel economy is realistic in everyday driving.
From initial orders, it looks like the PHEV variant will account for around 25% of Grandland sales.
The overall driving experience for both versions is comfortable and surprisingly refined. It feels substantial and composed on the road, and manages to stay admirably flat in faster, more challenging corners. If anything, the petrol version is slightly more nimble.
There’s a high driving position and visibility is good, while the light steering means its suited to city driving too. The PHEV is even better because it can run silently with zero emissions.
Obviously there’s more power on tap in the Hybrid-e, though it does feel slightly heavier thanks to the addition of its 13.2kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor.
The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and there are three drive modes on offer: Hybrid, Sport and Electric.
Hybrid is the default mode and is the best of both worlds, optimising fuel efficiency and driving performance, and the switch between petrol and electric power is almost seamless. Sport delivers maximum power from the petrol and electric motors, while Electric switches to near-silent EV mode.
Naturally, there’s also brake regeneration – a system that recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration, though the effect is subtle.
Like all PHEVs, it operates most efficiently if charged at home overnight. For the record, 0-100% charge times range from 5h 45m from a domestic 3-pin to 1hr 45m from a 7.4 kW home/public chargepoint.
The revised infotainment system is a definite improvement over the outgoing Grandland X. It’s functional and logically laid out, though the centre touchscreen could be bigger and the display is not the clearest or brighter on the market. On the plus side, it does feature short-cut buttons below the screen.
There’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity ranges between 514 and 1,642 litres on the petrol and diesel versions, and 390 litres/1,528 litres for the plug-in.
So, the Grandland is much improved, and while it isn’t best-in-class, it offers great value for money, with prices starting lower than the outgoing Grandland X range.
The entry-level petrol and diesel powered cars deliver decent fuel economy, but it’s the plug-in hybrid that could offer the most savings, not just for low mileage private owners, but on the fleet side too.
The Grandland Hybrid-e falls into the 11% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band during the 2021-22 financial year (rising to 12% in 2022-23), representing a significant saving for business users.
Verdict: Vauxhall has worked wonders with the Grandland, transforming it from a worthy crossover into a distinctive, comfortable and practical no-nonsense family SUV that delivers great value for money.