► CAR drives new plug-in hybrid SUV
► Sub-six second 0-62mph...
► But a price tag on the wrong side of £46k
You’re right. No one was begging for a Greta Thunberg edition of the Grandland X. Neither were there school boys up and down the land waiting for a performance version to stick up on their bedroom walls. And yet, here we are with the Hybrid4, a performance and green version of the Grandland X.
While 296bhp makes it the most powerful production Vauxhall currently on sale, and it does make the Grandland X hot-hatch-baitingly quick, it’s definitely not a Nurburgring lap time special.
The Grandland X’s appeal is much broader. It’s a plug-in hybrid after all. So this biggish SUV can do up to an official 204mpg while polluting very little – in theory.
In case you haven’t read, manufacturers need to achieve a fleet average of 95g/km of CO2 by next year. Having hybrids in the range greatly helps Vauxhall achieve these goals, and avoid paying billions of Euros in fines.
What do you get for your dosh?
Well, this Hybrid X, unsurprisingly, is the most expensive of the Grandland X range. For that you get a 1.6 litre petrol engine, two electric motors, and all-wheel drive.
In top spec, called Ultimate Nav, the kit list is predictably long, including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, driving modes, and a seat that’s approved by - no joke - a German campaign for healthier backs.
Although this is an impressive array of things to press, it costs a whopping £46,500. No, you didn’t misread that. A Vauxhall for the same price as a couple of two-bedroom terraced houses in Durham.
Talk to me about that 296bhp…
Well, if you insist. It’s a very healthy power output, and it comes with an even healthier 384lb ft of torque. The 1.6-litre turbo petrol makes 197bhp, the front electric motor makes 108bhp, and the rear makes 111bhp. Maths fans will know this adds up to 416bhp. But it’s not that simple.
► CAR's best hybrids and plug-ins
While in full power mode, all three power sources are in use, but because they all work at different RPM, there’s not a single moment all three can produce maximum power.
On the flip side, rather than having a theoretical 296bhp (dependent on battery levels) you’ll always have 296bhp. This is because even when the digital readout is at 0 electric range - you still have 15% battery. This means that even if you’ve ‘run out’ of electric power, you still have 296bhp at your disposal.
It feels fast enough. 0-62mph comes up in a quick 5.9s. Low down electric power helps out a great deal in this instance. It doesn’t struggle for traction either, thanks to the AWD system. In full on power mode it translates power into movement in a very efficiently, if not in a spectacular way.
What about handling?
Well the wheels move roughly in line with what the steering is doing, which is a good start. Where it starts to go wrong is in the speed of the steering. It’s far too quick. And also far too light.
Fling it into a long corner and you can feel the car lean heavily. You'll also hear a fair bit of tyre roar.
With AWD as standard there’s actually plenty of grip. And while we applaud Vauxhall for not fitting it with some kind of electronically controlled overly heavy steering dependent on what drive mode you’re in, you’re just never confident enough to actually exploit all the grip.
Ride is pretty good. Despite all the PHEV gubbins it never feels brittle - it’s really pillowy soft. Our test route was in the basically-on-par-with-Peterborough Black Forest in Germany. In towns full of potholes caused by lorries carrying timber, it felt smooth and relaxed.
AWD, you say?
The car’s driven wheels are dictated by what drive mode you’re in.
On start up, it defaults to Electric mode. This locks the car in rear-wheel-drive mode, because it’s using the motor in the rear axle. No, it won’t drift. When in this mode, it’ll cover 35 miles in electric mode at up to 84mph.
Our test route included a brief stretch on the motorway, and it definitely will do well north of 80mph locked in Electric. Range should be taken with a grain of salt, but in everyday driving we got around 30 miles on pure electric.
In Hybrid mode, it can change between the 1.6-litre petrol and the electric motors. There’s no huge jerk as it changes, which is good. Sport deploys all three modes of propulsion to get maximum power. And AWD is best for when things get a bit icy.
If you can make it past the (optional) black bonnet without wanting to run away, you can open the door to reveal the inside. Here, it’s pretty much like a regular Grandland X.
There’s plenty of room up front. The screens look a bit measly in comparison with higher-end machinery, but it is a Vauxhall after all. The seats are comfy, and the dashboard is largely bereft of buttons. The infotainment works well, and it’s easy to read.
It is awfully dark in there though. And the plastics, below your eyeline at least, feel and look hard and scratchy.
Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4: verdict
The Grandland X cuts an interesting shape in people’s lucid car buying dreams.
And yes, it’s kinda pricey. Kinda real pricey. On finance, it looks a bit more reasonable. The cheapest Hybrid4 works out (depending on mileage and initial payment) at around £400 per month. Similarly powerful SUVs, like the BMW X2 M35i cost more like £450 per month. While other largish plug-in SUVs, like the Audi Q5 TFSIe quattro, will set you back closer to £500 per month.
No, it doesn’t handle all that well. But, in a land where sporty SUVs have rock solid suspension, Vauxhall has gone against the flow and built something for people who want a fast SUV but don’t want it to be in the least bit sporty.
It just lacks some of the interior plushness and pretentious badges that a typical fast SUV driver desires.
Check out our Vauxhall reviews