What is it?
Mid-life refreshes can be simple affairs: new paint options, new alloys, job done. Or they can be something altogether more ambitious. The overhauled Vauxhall Grandland feels like one of the latter.
It follows the Vauxhall Mokka compact crossover in ditching the X from its name and becomes the latest model to inherit Vauxhall’s new Vizor front-end styling. The way it contains the headlights and hides the ADAS systems has (to these eyes, at least) turned what was a fairly bland crossover into something altogether more striking.
The Grandland’s arrival coincides with a major streamlining of Vauxhall’s model range, simplifying powertrain options and reducing trim levels to a choice of three. The entry-point is now Design, which covers the basics, while GS Line adds sporty styling and Ultimate has the best tech. For the Grandland, that includes matrix LED headlights, still a rarity at this end of the market. There’s even optional night vision.
GS Line is the starting point for the plug-in hybrid, which comes with 18in alloy wheels, black exterior trim elements, a 180deg reversing camera and adaptive cruise control, as well as the LED lights, traffic-sign recognition and automatic emergency braking found on Design-spec cars.
You still have the choice of petrol or diesel power, but Vauxhall has worked hard to make the PHEV the most appealing choice. The on-the-road price has been slashed relative to the outgoing version, which should please private buyers as much as the 11% BIK tax rate will to business customers. It’s the current top tier in performance terms, too – at least until the 296bhp four-wheel-drive range-topper reappears later this year.
What’s it like?
With largely unchanged mechanicals, the Grandland remains a competent performer, if not quite on the same dynamic level as the Ford Kuga. It rides well enough, shrugging off smaller road imperfections and feeling relaxed at a cruise, and the steering is reasonably precise, if a little on the light side. Still, it can’t completely disguise its weight in the corners. T
he 1.6-litre turbo four and electric motor send a combined 223bhp to the front axle, so you expect the Grandland to be reasonably quick. That’s not entirely the case in practice, the motor not engaging instantly at slow speeds and the eight-speed automatic ‘box hesitates before downshifting to a useful gear when you ask for more power. Sport mode mitigates this a little, although the driving-mode switch isn’t exactly within easy reach, being on the wrong side of the gearstick in right-hand-drive cars.
The Grandland feels well-suited to town and city driving, though, with gentler inputs allowing for a smooth handover between powertrains and electric running all the way up to motorway speeds. The regenerative braking also avoids being grabby at all speeds. The claimed 39 miles of electric-only range was closer to 25 on a cold and wet March afternoon, though.
A 3.6kW home wallbox can fully charge the battery in three-and-a-half hours. A 7kW wallbox does it in an hour and 45 minutes but requires the uprated on-board charger, a £500 option.
Inside the cabin, the addition of a 12in digital instrument cluster and a 10in infotainment touchscreen has helped bring the Grandland more in line with the class competition. Neither is especially high resolution, and dedicating the outer edges of the infotainment display to climate controls seems a waste when Vauxhall has included physical dials below, but it does support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and is responsive enough to touch inputs.
Interior materials are the familiar mix of hard and soft-touch plastics – a reminder that for all its technology upgrades, the Grandland still sits towards the value end of the Stellantis stable, but the driving position is comfortable and rear occupants have a decent amount of room. Boot space does take a hit, with 390 litres to the petrol version’s 514 litres, but that’s still largely on par with rival PHEVs.
Should I buy one?
If customers bought the old Grandland X because it represented good value, those placing orders for the updated Grandland are equally as likely to do so because they love the way it looks. Vauxhall’s design hot streak continues.
Given the Hybrid-e 225’s potential savings over a petrol equivalent when driven as intended, it also appears the firm has given PHEV doubters plenty of reason to reconsider their position.