Vauxhall Grandland X SUV - Engines, drive & performance
Comfortable, with light controls and compliant suspension, the Vauxhall Grandland X dispenses long journeys with ease
It's all too easy to get hung up on a car’s outright handling prowess, but there’s a strong argument to say buyers of family SUVs like the Vauxhall Grandland X are less concerned about this aspect of their cars than, say, owners of conventional hatchbacks and saloons.
Rather than being a driver-focused, sharp-handling SUV like the SEAT Ateca, the Grandland X is a relaxed, comfortable and easy car in which to cover long distances. If that’s what you’re after, it could be the SUV for you.
True, its light steering provides little feedback, but as a welcome flipside it’s an easy car to manoeuvre around town. The clutch is similarly effortless to operate and, although the gearbox provides little reward to those attempting quick, slick shifts, it's smooth enough if you take things a bit more sedately, although the brakes can feel a little grabby. This makes it tricky to draw up to a halt gently without passengers' heads nodding involuntarily.
Although its front-wheel-drive layout means it isn't really designed for off-road excursions, the Grandland X takes after its Peugeot 3008 sister car by using electronics to maximise grip on tricky surfaces. The 'IntelliGrip' system has five settings: normal (for regular road use), snow, mud and sand, as well as off (where no assistance is provided). The settings each allow differing amounts of wheelslip to suit the respective driving conditions, as well as regulating accelerator response. IntelliGrip is optional as part of an 'All Road' pack on SE specification and above. The only four-wheel-drive version is the Hybrid4 plug-in hybrid, but this isn't really designed for off-roading either, instead improving traction on slippery surfaces.
What outright negatives there are remain slight and easy to overlook: it’s possible to detect a little wind noise around the wing mirrors once up to cruising speed, for example, but this is partly due to the Grandland X’s otherwise hushed nature. Equally, while the slanting roofline has a knock-on effect where rear visibility is concerned, this is compensated for by the standard parking sensors and optional reversing camera.
Vauxhall Grandland X petrol engine
The three-cylinder 1.2-litre 128bhp petrol engine offered with the Grandland X is carried over from the Peugeot 3008. It’s a smooth, punchy little engine, delivering more get-up-and-go than its small capacity might suggest. Going from 0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds (9.8 if you choose the automatic gearbox) and we expect most buyers will find the petrol engine the pick of the range.
If you need a diesel, don’t be put off: the 1.5-litre engine offered with the Grandland X promises impressive economy and it's a fair improvement over the 1.6-litre engine it replaced in performance terms too. It has enough pulling power that you never really need to rev it to a point that it gets overly noisy and it's very quiet at motorway speeds. Getting to 62mph from a standstill takes 10.2 seconds with a manual and 9.9 seconds if you choose the auto.
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There's also a 2.0-litre diesel that's now offered across most of the range, and is only fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine produces 175bhp, but delivers its power at low engine speeds to provide a smoother driving experience, according to Vauxhall. It can accelerate from 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds. The stop-start system seems a bit overactive, too, and frustrates by shutting the engine down before you come to a halt.
In early 2020, a plug-in hybrid model called the Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 was introduced. Combining a punchy 197bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, the car produces 296bhp in total and gets from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds, making it the quickest car Vauxhall currently sells. That’s faster than a Volkswagen Golf GTI, despite Vauxhall claiming a fuel economy figure of 204mpg. This powertrain is also used in the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense and the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4.
In Sport mode it's certainly quick in a straight line, which helps when getting up to speed on the motorway, but this is not a car you'll relish driving on a twisty country road. The suspension setup isn’t bad but the light steering and automatic gearbox hardly encourage enthusiastic driving, and it's obvious you're in a fairly tall SUV.
Most Grandland X won't need a car with so much power, so we think the 222bhp front-wheel drive Hybrid will be a better choice. It can still get from rest to 60mph in 8.6 seconds; as quick as most 2.0-litre diesel SUVs.