Our long-term Vauxhall Grandland X: great at the dull stuff

Published: 22 October 2020

► CAR lives with a hybrid Vauxhall
► Most expensive, fastest car Luton makes
► Reports on our Grandland X daily driver

The Grandland is continuing to excel in a motoring life that consists almost entirely of dull commuting and local runabouting. So much of my modest current mileage can be done using battery power, rather than petrol, that I'm regularly seeing upwards of 150mpg on the trip computer.

So the plug-in bit of this test is going well, and for anybody thinking they might dwell in the halfway house between internal combustion and full electric, then slippers on and settle in for a very rewarding life with a Grandland.

But if you're thinking of choosing a Grandland for its other headline-grabber, the 296bhp and rapid 0-62mph time – well, I'd not get quite so excited if I were you.

Undeniably, in Sport mode with what hairy-chested types – when motors were motors – used to call the 'loud pedal' pinned to the floor, the Grandland is very quick. The initial burst of torque from the electric motor, followed by a seamless transition into petrol power, makes for rapid acceleration, to the point where it's rather unseemly behaviour for a middling family crossover.

It has its advantages should you need to prove a point. I have enjoyed tootling about sparingly on electric, only for somebody (usually in an Audi A5 for some reason) to come roaring up behind and sit arrogantly on my arse, only then to be left for dead by the Grandland's straight-line prowess. Having that Q-car performance can be quite fun, on occasion.

Unfortunately, what follows is less spectacular. The steering is detached, firstly light and then leaden, the brakes are indistinct, the Michelin eco tyres have little lateral grip and the doughy front end is affronted by changes of direction.

The 296bhp figure feels like it was achieved by engineers using their laptops to tick a box for marketing, because not much else has been done to back it up in terms of handling. So it's back to slippers on, and coaxing every last kilowatt out of every journey.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cylinder plus e-motors, 13.2kWh battery, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), NAmpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 6.0p per mile
Miles this month 248
Total miles 974


Month 3 living with a Vauxhall Grandland X: so long, petrol stations...

grandland ltt wheel

One of the very exciting things about life with the Grandland plug-in hybrid is seeing whether I can get to Grantham and back on one battery charge.

Yes, you might think I should get a better hobby, but the Sainsbury's in this storied town – which invented the caterpillar track, Margaret Thatcher and run-down charity shops – is exactly 15 miles from my house. When I fire up the fully charged Grandland at home it generally predicts a range of 31 miles, meaning I could do the round trip with one mile to spare. This has gone up from the 24-mile range the Vauxhall was showing when it first turned up, so I must be doing something right.

There are two modes for electric driving: a freewheely one where, when you lift off, the car seems to accelerate; and a regenerative-braking one, which does the opposite. It's cleverly variable, though, so when you lift off at 20mph there's not much slowing, but do the same at 60 and it tries to put you through the windscreen.

You can flip between the two to see what suits you best. On my first Exciting Trip to Grantham, I went regenerative the whole way and had run out of juice on the return leg before I left the A1, needing to actually use some petrol for the last four miles home. Crazy.

Since then I've opted to freewheel like a kid on his bike on downhill and straight stretches, but nip over to regen to slow for corners and junctions, and for downhill stretches. On Exciting Trip to Grantham 6, I got home with four miles of range to spare. I nearly cried with happiness.

It goes to show that actively managing the powertrain has huge benefits. In this case, a third more range by driving differently.

My wife took the Grandland on Trip 7 and trashed a tyre in a pothole, less than a mile from home. Vauxhall Assistance and the RAC were brilliantly efficient, but the replacement Michelin Primacy 3 cost a hefty £192, negating (and some) all the cost efficiencies. I was not excited about that.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cylinder plus e-motors, 13.2kWh battery, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), NAmpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.6p per mile
Miles this month 94
Total miles 726


Month 2 living with a hybrid Grandland X: charging grudge match

grandland charging

We've already got a Renault Zoe that my wife mainly drives and which, being electric, is of course utterly dependent on our wallbox for power.

She selfishly hogs it too. Every time I come home, there's the Zoe sucking juice out of the house, like a big blue greedy baby, leaving the Grandland hybrid's batteries flat and desperate for a quick fix to restore its 24 miles of electric range. I've got a granny cable which I am running out of the garage, under the door, and is being used as a much slower, trickly, substitute.

On the standard 'big' cable, the Grandland takes less than two hours to recharge. On the little one, three times that, though.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cylinder plus e-motors, 13.2kWh battery, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), NAmpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 6p per mile
Miles this month 75
Total miles 632


Month 1 living with a hybrid Vauxhall Grandland X: hello and welcome

grandland LT hello\

When I was informed by those in power that I would be driving a very expensive, fast Vauxhall for the next few months, I wondered if perhaps I had been transferred, reject footballer-style, to CAR's sister title Classic Cars and was going to spend the summer hooning about in a Lotus Carlton – the only expensive, fast Vauxhall I could think of.

Alas, this proved not to be the case and the almost-as-expensive, almost-as-fast Vauxhall turned out to be a very different beast: the petrol-electric Grandland X Hybrid4, a modern crossover in so many senses it is hard to know where to start.

So we'll start with the basic facts. This is Vauxhall's first plug-in hybrid (the prescient range-extending Ampera not counting), with a claimed electric range of 30-plus miles from a 13kWh battery powering two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear to provide a combined 100bhp and, hopefully, plenty of useful traction.

The electric motors work in concert with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels to bring the combined output to 296bhp. (There's also a front-wheel-drive version with a total output 75bhp lower.) This is shy of the Carlton's 370-plus, but in accelerative terms there's not much in it, with the 383lb ft of torque ensuring this eco-friendly family car will hit 62mph in under six seconds.

At the same time, the official figures claim more than 200mpg and 34g/km Co2, but I think we all know that's not a realistic target. I'm optimistic, though: my regular daily driving, which involves eight miles to drop kids off at school and off to work, and then back again, means that I might actually be able to survive most of the time almost entirely on plugged power, and that life with the Grandland is defined by the 30 number, rather than the 300 one.

The model we've gone for is an Elite Nav AWD, priced at £43,400 before extras (I told you it was an expensive Vauxhall), which is stacked with all the technology expected of a crossover at this price, including memory leather front seats with ventilation, wireless mobile charging, Vauxhall's IntelliLink infotainment, blind-spot indicators and an auto kicky foot boot release sensor I will never use.

The only option is a 6.6kW high voltage onboard charger which means the battery can be replenished at home in under two hours off a standard wallbox.

So the Grandland is not short of kit, power and seemingly space too, which could mean it is a fine all-rounder, or that it is jack of all trades, master of none. In its favour, the Grandland X sits on the EMP2 platform used on the similar Peugeot 3008 and DS 7, which is not a bad place to start.

It also competes against the prince of plug-ins, the Mitsubishi Outlander, and it is here that the main battle will be fought. Yes, this is a Very Expensive Vauxhall (I think I may be hearing that phrase a few times in the coming months), but the Outlander is a Very Expensive Mitsubishi, and that has not stopped it being a roaring success.

I hope I can say the same for the Grandland after its time with us.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cylinder plus e-motors, 13.2kWh battery, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), NAmpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 0p per mile
Miles this month 0
Total miles 557

By Steve Moody

Contributing editor, adventurer, ideas pitcher, failed grower-upper

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