Vaux­hall Grand­land X 1.6D

The 1.2 petrol man­ual got a mixed re­port card. Will the 1.6 auto diesel fare bet­ter?

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - AN­DREW FRANKEL

Diesel vari­ant driven

We re­cently tested Vaux­hall’s new mid-sized cross­over with a 1.2-litre three-cylin­der petrol mo­tor but this diesel, though 10bhp less pow­er­ful with 118bhp, could prove to be the more suit­able pow­er­plant thanks to its stronger mid-range torque, bet­ter econ­omy and lower CO2 emis­sions. The car, a ri­val to the class best­selling Nis­san Qashqai and the class best Seat Ateca, is avail­able with sixspeed trans­mis­sions with ei­ther two or three ped­als.

The test car came with the au­to­matic gear­box and, com­bined with the diesel en­gine, rep­re­sents a use­ful im­prove­ment on the man­ual 1.2. The petrol mo­tor is qui­eter and makes a far sweeter sound, but these are poor sub­sti­tutes for low-down grunt in a rel­a­tively heavy car like this. Also, these are cars that will be ex­pected to do long dis­tances and the diesel’s more re­laxed cruis­ing plus a likely 20% im­prove­ment in fuel con­sump­tion make it the clear choice for peo­ple with such pri­or­i­ties.

Yet this is still some dis­tance from even an en­gag­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, let alone a re­motely en­ter­tain­ing one. The 1.6-litre diesel is a blame­less beast of bur­den, strong at low revs, rea­son­ably re­spon­sive, slightly un­cul­tured of voice but as hon­est as the day is long. Even with only six speeds, the auto does ex­cel­lent work keep­ing the mo­tor in the range in which both it and you will find it most com­fort­able.

The ride qual­ity is rea­son­able de­spite its cheap and not al­ways very cheer­ful tor­sion beam rear sus­pen­sion, but it re­ally has no in­ter­est at all in cor­ner­ing at more than a se­date pace. The steer­ing is ac­cu­rate but lack­ing in feel and the brakes over-ser­voed.

Fo­cus in­stead on its static qual­i­ties, for here the Grand­land X is far more com­pet­i­tive. There’s a very tra­di­tional in­te­rior that’s no harder to operate than that of an As­tra. But with it comes a stan­dard touch­screen, Vaux­hall’s On­star concierge ser­vice, all the safety fea­tures you’d ex­pect and plenty more you’d merely hope for. And most of them are stan­dard on most trim lev­els.

More­over, the car is well built from largely high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als, as spa­cious as you’d ex­pect a car in this class to be, and with a de­cently shaped and larger-than-av­er­age load area.

As a car, this is a far bet­ter bet than the 1.2 petrol man­ual ver­sion re­cently tested. The prob­lem is that once you’ve paid for the diesel and opted in the auto box, you’re look­ing at adding al­most £2000 to the price of a car that, com­pared with the Ateca and Qashqai, doesn’t look that cheap to be­gin with, how­ever well equipped it may be.

The dif­fer­ence is that while the lit­tle petrol mo­tor seems fun­da­men­tally un­suited to the car as does its man­ual gear­box, the diesel and auto com­bi­na­tion ap­pear born for it. Cer­tainly, for high-mileage users look­ing to hang onto the car for a mat­ter of years, the diesel is the slam dunk choice of the two.

Seen against its com­peti­tors, how­ever, and the case is harder to make. It’s a has­sle-free, no-sur­prises, well-built, func­tional trans­porta­tion de­vice. How­ever, even in a class of un­usu­ally mod­est as­pi­ra­tions, we can­not ig­nore the fact that oth­ers, the Ateca in par­tic­u­lar, of­fer so much more and do so from a much more af­ford­able start­ing point.

There are plenty of good­ies to en­joy in­side the car but rather fewer on the road

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