Better than the 1.2 petrol version, but the 1.6 diesel Grandland X is still lacking in sparkle
Here it is then, Vauxhall’s new mid-sized crossover powered by a diesel engine for the first time.
We’ve already tried the 128bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol Grandland X. This 1.6 diesel has 10bhp less than that, but it has beefier mid-range torque, along with better economy and lower CO2 emissions figures.
The Grandland X aims to take on the best-selling Nissan Qashqai and the class-leading Seat Ateca. The fruit of a joint venture with Peugeot owners PSA Group, it’s actually a Peugeot 3008 in different clothes. It sits on a Peugeot platform, has PSA engines and is built in a French PSA factory.
You can have this diesel version with a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions. Our test car was fitted the auto ‘box, and immediately made a more positive impression than the manual 1.2 we tried earlier. It’s not as quiet as the petrol, and the noise it makes isn’t as nice, but the diesel upside of low-rpm pulling power more than compensates for those shortcomings, especially in something like the Grandland X that’s not the lightest option in the class.
Vauxhall Grandland X Sport Nav 1.6D auto
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Torque: 221lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
Top speed: 115mph
Fuel economy: 65.7mpg
CO2 rating/BIK: 111g/km, 24%
For the sort of long-distance journeying this type of vehicle will be expected to do, the 1.6 D’s easier cruise characteristics, decent responsiveness and 20% better fuel consumption are big plus points.
They don’t make the Grandland X an interesting or joyful drive, unfortunately. You might tire of the diesel’s narrow powerband in the manual transmission model, as it means you will spend a lot of time selecting gears, but the 1.6-litre diesel is an honest enough lump that is happy to be corralled into its optimum powerband by the six-speed auto. Despite the absence of shift paddles, you can take advantage of a self-shifter function but there seems to be so little point bothering with anything other than Drive.
As was the case with the petrol-powered model, it won’t get the trousers of the enthusiast driver even smouldering, let alone set them on fire, and that’s by the hardly exciting handling standards of mid-sized SUV crossovers. The suspension is pretty basic, delivering a combination of acceptable ride quality and a degree of cornering ability that will suffice for those who like to drive with a well-filled cup of takeaway coffee on board. The front wheels will go where you point them but won’t engage you. The over-stimulated brake response will please those with corns or bunions.
If you’re not so bothered by a car’s dynamics you’ll probably be content with the Grandland X’s static appeal, especially if you’re not impressed by the wackiness of Peugeot’s small-wheeled i-cockpit design. Operating the toys (which include a standard touchscreen and Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge service) is as easy here as it is in an Astra.
Name a desirable safety feature and you’ll probably find it in the Grandland X, irrespective of trim level. Materials quality and cabin space are on point, and the cargo area is well shaped and bigger than average.
Overall, this 1.6D with automatic gearbox is a much better matchup than the 1.2 manual petrol. That petrol drivetrain just seems wrong for the car. The diesel makes even more sense for drivers expecting to (a) cover plenty of miles and (b) keep the car for a good while.
The straightforwardness of the choice is unfortunately complicated by the fact that the desirable combo is nearly £2000 dearer than the undesirable one. When you factor in the Grandland X’s less-than-keen pricing structure compared to those of the Seat Ateca and Nissan Qashqai, even the generous equipment levels struggle to justify the Vauxhall purchase. The Ateca package in particular is much more attractive. Even in a class of relatively low expectations, you need a bit more than a lack of negative characteristics to gain a fanbase in today’s market.