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