► Vauxhall's Qashqai/Sorento rival
► Based on Peugeot 3008 – but is it better?
► Good standard spec on all models
It’s not just me, the Vauxhall Grandland X is quite a handsome car, isn’t it? I suppose it doesn’t hurt its cause that this particular car is in the range-topping - and slightly self-aggrandising - Ultimate spec.
That name feels a bit premature for a car that only came out in 2017, like a reality TV star releasing an autobiography before the end credits have finishing rolling.
Still, if this is peak Grandland then we’d better have a look to see whether the rest of the car can live up to its rather fetching styling?
We’ll get to that – first have a look at the extra kit you get on an Ultimate car over the next trim down (called Elite Nav):
Denon sound system Heated outer rear seats Automatic cruise contro LED adaptive headlights Panoramic camera
That’s on top of the previous range-topper’s generous spec, including things like powered and heated sports seats, ambient lighting and advanced park assist.
It’s basically a Grandland X with the entire options list thrown in, plus the largest and most potent engine - for now at least.
A V8 petrol to rival the GLC 63?
No, not that – a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 175bhp and 295lb ft of torque, making for a 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds.
It’s paired with an auto ‘box only and we think this is the only engine in the line-up that really works properly with the eight speed self-shifter, thanks to its deeper well of torque to call upon. In lower powered versions it’s vague and indecisive.
Left to its own devices the Grandland X Ultimate pulls really well and only gets noisy at higher revs, a zone that is deftly sidestepped by the gearbox, a task made easier by the fact it does all its best work low-down between 2000 and 3750rpm. The gearshifts are nicely pitched down the middle too – smooth for normal driving and surprisingly responsive when you’re pressing on. All this despite the lack of drive-mode settings.
Annoyingly though the gear shifter has an offset gate pattern like it’s out of the 1990s, so you
have to row it left or right as well as forwards and backwards to select neutral, reverse or drive.
There’s a diagram to explain the layout but it’s on the left hand side of the shifter, so you often can’t see it from the driver’s seat. Why Vauxhall didn’t use the more simple, modern straight-back-and-forth lever from the Insignia we don’t know.
Does the Vauxhall Grandland X Ultimate deliver in the handling stakes?
It’s quite a well-judged thing in general, the Grandland, and that includes the way it drives. Comfort and performance are played off against each other as you’d expect – so it’s not as focussed as the SEAT Ateca but more relaxed as a result.
As with most compromises though there are downsides – the ride is a bit busy on cracked surfaces, and there’s a fair bit of bodyroll if you press on, particularly if you take advantage of the quick and light steering, which can easily overwhelm the tall body.
All-in-all the handling is good enough for the market it's aimed at, with high grip levels contributing to a safe and secure drive, rather than a pin-sharp one. It’s not a world away from the Peugeot 3008 upon which it is based, of course.
Does it have an exciting interior like the Peugeot 3008?
It’s a bit more business-like to be honest, but just as clutter-free thanks to Inception-levels of buttons hidden within buttons.
There’s a fair bit of cheap plastic, but it’s quite low down so easy to miss, aside from the swathes on the doors including some pretty flimsy feeling pockets.
The main screen is a bit on the small side compared with some of the whoppers rivals now offer, but it’s nicely integrated and supplemented by another between the dials.
Space is plentiful all around, with room in the back for a 6 foot 2 inch driver to side behind himself, and loads of light from panoramic roof that extends all the way back.
We think this version of the Grandland X is the most convincing in terms of driving experience and equipment offered, but the least convincing when it comes to value for money.
At £33,995 it’s a pricey car compared with rivals and even other Grandlands – pick and Elite Nav car (admittedly a lesser spec) and you’ll save £4,500.
While you could argue you get a lot for your cash, you also get more or less the same dashboard as base spec car costing £18,000.
You certainly don’t get that problem with a comparable Audi Q5 with all-wheel drive, which is actually cheaper on finance, and much nicer inside.
Haggle hard for a good deal, otherwise you may be better served in a less expensive model.
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