Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 long-term test review: the eight-month verdict

Published: 18 January 2021

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

A price heading in the direction of 45 grand was an insurmountable obstacle for Grandland X acceptance. During the conversations I had about the car, I was always on standby with a pillow and some smelling salts for the moment when I mentioned the price; cue fainting. It doesn’t really hold itself like a car of that price, or look like one. That’s the cost – literally – of having big batteries.

Of course, there is a caveat, and it’s a big one. If you are a company car driver, the tax you’ll pay is way below that of a standard petrol or diesel equivalent, so as my wan victim lay recovering I would furnish them with the requisite numbers for higher- and lower-rate taxpayers. They still needed the pillow after that, mind.

In certain circumstances, the Grandland X can be ridiculously cheap to run. There was an extended period where we hardly went anywhere further than about 15 miles away and the cylinders of the petrol engine must have been gummed up with cobwebs. Such a big proportion of those few miles was being done on battery power alone (the battery was recharged before the next journey) that I was getting nearly 300mpg.

If you’re working from home a lot, a PHEV like the Grandland with its solid 30-mile range might just fit your new lifestyle perfectly; my overall 60mpg-plus in recent weeks, using both powertrains, is pretty impressive.

Thanks to that electric motor and a combined 296bhp, it can go off the line like Tom Cruise off a carrier deck in a Tomcat. It’s a lot of power, and it’s delivered quickly.

Problem is, heavy batteries combined with an SUV stance results in the Grandland running out of form and into trouble quicker than Harry Maguire. By the first corner, in fact. The handling is so ponderous that the full 296bhp was deployed less than the Swiss Navy.

There are other plus points, such as being able to to lock it into four-wheel drive. Caught in a biblical downpour on a motorway once, it definitely helped stability.

The cabin proved to be good-quality and hard-wearing and I like the fact that most operations could be conducted by buttons and dials. Some of the switchgear is the size of a Tic Tac, but that’s still far easier than having to point a finger accusingly at a graphic swimming about on a screen.

On the downside, the boot is annoyingly small and replacement tyres cost the earth (£192), as my wife found after falling down a sinkhole the size of Lincolnshire.

So variously the Grandland proved to be big, small, cheap and expensive, as most PHEVs do. It didn’t prove to be a great car either, but rather an adequate one.

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Elite Nav Hybrid4

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbocharged four-cyl plus twin e-motors, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg, 63.6mpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.8p per mile
Miles this month 1523
Total miles 6203


Month 7 living with a Vauxhall Grandland X: surf’s up!

Grandland side pan

Batteries + boards = no boot
Batteries mean the boot has just 390 litres of luggage capacity, so the dog has to travel in the back with the kids. She’s happy about it. They aren’t.

In a flap about flaps
Using CarPlay, unless I get my iPhone 11 wedged at an incredibly precise angle, the flap won’t close, so you end up with unsightly cables everywhere.

Autopilot disengaged
On the motorway, there’s no indication when the adaptive cruise is adapting, other than slowing down. Between that and the insistent lane-departure warning, we feel more comfortable on manual the whole way.

Grandland lane departure

Stealth mode engaged
Cornish roads are not its natural habitat, despite 300bhp. But when charged up on electric power, eco-friendly surfers are less likely to shout at me than the hundreds of Discovery drivers here.

And relax. A bit
Back aching from the hard seats and offset driving position, we’re in Polzeath. Just have to stop the kids from drowning now…

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbo four-cylinder plus twin e-motors, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), 64.5mpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.8p per mile
Miles this month 1890
Total miles 3321


Month 6 living with a Vauxhall Grandland X: self-charging, eh?

Grandland badge

The problem with plug-in hybrids is once they’re out of their comfort zone of short trips on a pre-charged battery, they become a combustion-engined car lugging a load of redundant weight around.

I hoped the Grandland’s optional £500 onboard charger might give the electric bits something to do, rather than just sit there being useless. You can set it to recharge the batteries from the powertrain as you drive along, giving you pure electric power periodically.

So on a long journey, I gave the charger its big shot. It’s quite nice to find yourself able to switch back over to electric every 100 miles or so. But with an electric boost every couple of hours, the Grandland managed about 34mpg over 300 miles. Disappointing, given all the tech at work.

On the way home, I didn’t bother, to see what the difference would be. Having crunched the numbers, we had averaged about the same. This was very disappointing too, proving the extra effort to charge the battery negates those ‘free’ electric miles.

Other than helping speed up charging from the plug, I’m not sure the expense of the charger is justifiable. And even then, most charging for its batteries is done overnight so we’re never in that much of a rush.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbocharged four-cylinder plus twin e-motors, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), 65.2mpg (tested), 34g/km CO2 Energy cost 5.9p per mile Miles this month 1356 Total miles 2787


Month 5 living with a Vauxhall Grandland X: nice inside

Grandland seat

If you haven’t been in a Vauxhall for a while, you might be pleasantly surprised by the quality and user-friendliness of the Grandland. Principally that’s manifested in some solid, drab materials from Opel. The instrumentation and switchgear have none of the shiny bling that German premium brands so often slather their cars in. It also avoids new owner PSA’s fiendishly fiddly infotainment. Instead there’s Vauxhall IT, which has all the whizz and zing of a military radar monitor. Functional, not fancy.

The only place where the quality lapses is the internal door handles, which groan and flex every time you pull them.

By Steve Moody

Logbook: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite Nav

Price £43,400 (£43,900 as tested)
Performance 1598cc turbocharged four-cylinder plus twin e-motors, PHEV, 296bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 146mph
Efficiency 204-225mpg (official), 34.6mpg (tested), 34g/km CO2
Energy cost 5.9p per mile
Miles this month 457
Total miles 1431


Month 4 living with a Vauxhall Grandland X: great at the dull stuff

Grandland front pan

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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