Vauxhall Grandland SUV - Engines, drive & performance
Comfortable, with light controls and compliant suspension, the Vauxhall Grandland 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 such as the Vauxhall Grandland 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 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 calmly – although the brakes can feel a little grabby. This makes it tricky to gently draw up to a halt without passengers' heads nodding involuntarily.
Its front-wheel-drive layout means it isn't really designed for off-road excursions, and it's no longer fitted with the 'IntelliGrip' system designed to improve traction using clever electronics. If you need to go off-road, a model such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport may be a better bet.
Outright negatives remain slight and are easy to overlook: it's possible to detect a little wind noise around the door mirrors once up to cruising speed, for example, but this is partly because of the Grandland'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 petrol engine
The three-cylinder 1.2-litre 128bhp petrol engine offered with the Grandland 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 10.4 seconds (10.3 if you choose the automatic gearbox), and we expect most buyers will find the petrol engine the pick of the range.
On the road, the 1.2-litre engine has plenty of pulling power when mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. When accelerating, it gets up to speed quickly without ever feeling strained, and is flexible with ample power for overtaking manoeuvres. The gearbox is precise and feels slick to use, and refinement is good, with only a small amount of engine noise noticeable from the driver’s seat.
The steering is light with little feedback or feel, but because this is a family SUV, it makes it easy to drive. This ease of use also makes it easy to park and manoeuvre, even in narrow parking spaces. Of course, the Grandland drives like a regular family SUV, with plenty of grip in corners making it feel secure with decent resistance to body lean. The ride quality is good, although the rear suspension did allow some harshness on rough surfaces to make its way into the interior. It feels refined and comfortable at higher speeds on smoother roads.
A larger, four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol producing 178bhp was previously available in the range-topping Ultimate trim level, offering a significant power increase over the base engine. Discontinued for the facelifted version, it was only available with an automatic gearbox and delivered the best performance of the regular Grandland X lineup, getting the car from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds.
If you need a diesel, don't be put off: the 1.5-litre engine offered with the Grandland promises impressive economy, and it's a fair improvement over the 1.6-litre engine it replaced in performance terms. It has enough pulling power that you never really need to rev it to the point that it gets overly noisy, and it's very quiet at motorway speeds. Getting to 62mph from a standstill takes 12.3 seconds with the standard automatic.
Vauxhall discontinued a 2.0-litre diesel from the Grandland X range in early 2021.
As part of the facelift in 2021, the Grandland X Hybrid and Hybrid4 models were replaced by a single variant: the Grandland Hybrid-e. It combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a 13.2kWh battery, producing a total power output of 222bhp.
Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and this is now the only PHEV offered in the facelifted Grandland at launch. It can still get from rest to 62mph in 8.9 seconds, making it roughly as quick as most 2.0-litre diesel SUVs.
It's possible to drive at up to 83mph in EV mode, but when the petrol engine springs to life it's reasonably smooth and quiet at urban speeds. Pick up the pace, and the petrol can sound somewhat strained, while we also found the eight-speed automatic can struggle to find the right ratio. For Grandland buyers who want a PHEV with faster performance, it’s thought a 296bhp four-wheel-drive Hybrid-e model could join the line-up later this year.