The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - AN­DREW MACKAY

VAUXHALL’S Grand­land X, a mid-size SUV, will be the first new model to leave show­rooms in 2018. It ar­rives about 10 years after the Qashqai, the car cred­ited with found­ing this seg­ment. The Grand­land X, al­though a wholly new Vauxhall car, sits on the same plat­form as Peu­geot’s 3008, sug­gest­ing the merg­ing of the com­pa­nies had been on the cards for some time. It uses Peu­geot en­gines and is built at a Peu­geot fac­tory in France.

This cir­cum­stance is no bad thing for the Grand­land X as its un­der­pin­nings are from ar­guably the best SUV around.

I took this model in Elite Nav, the top spec­i­fi­ca­tion, for a good test run over a va­ri­ety of roads that even­tu­ally ar­rived at Kirkcud­bright, the only port on the Scot­tish side of the Sol­way.

The drive com­fort on all roads was ex­cel­lent, es­pe­cially once I had disen­gaged the in­tru­sive lane de­par­ture warn­ing. A ghostly hand tug­ging at the steer­ing wheel on icy roads is scary. I should also point out this Grand­land X does not come with four-wheel drive in any cur­rent model: this de­spite its over­all stance and cladding sug­gest­ing an in­cli­na­tion for ad­ven­ture.

Un­der the bon­net a three-cylin­der 1.2-litre turbo-boosted en­gine with an out­put of 130ps could cer­tainly at times have ben­e­fit­ted from some ex­tra beans but you can’t have it all ways and a fuel gauge nee­dle that ap­peared stuck was a fair com­pro­mise.

I would have pre­ferred the car to have au­to­matic trans­mis­sion rather than its sixspeed man­ual.

Elim­i­nat­ing the clutch pedal would have pro­vided more space in the footwell. I con­stantly snagged my foot on the footrest when us­ing the clutch. Per­haps a driver with nar­row feet and not wear­ing brogues will have a less ir­ri­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence but for me the ped­als are too close.

Kirkcud­bright came at last and on this win­try day the sun was strug­gling to cast some light over the bleak mud­lands of the River Dee es­tu­ary. This town has a mix­ture of fine stone build­ings. Streets of Vic­to­rian, Geor­gian and Ed­war­dian town­houses are preva­lent and I’ve al­ways ad­mired how owners have painted the house fa­cades. Pas­tel shades line up to­gether, giv­ing Kirkcud­bright an edge over any other place I have vis­ited in Scot­land. A sign on the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre’s door says “open all year” but on this day it was locked up, with no way for­ward for the in­quis­i­tive tourist. Also closed was Broughton House, a re­stored Geor­gian mansion in the High Street. It is wor­thy of a visit on its open days. On dis­play are paint­ings by Kirkcud­bright-born artist E A Hor­nel, who owned the house and also cre­ated a Ja­panese gar­den there to re­mind him of his time spent in that coun­try. The house also con­tains one of the largest col­lec­tions of the works of Robert Burns.

Kirkcud­bright also has a wide va­ri­ety of in­de­pen­dently owned shops, an ac­tive lit­tle har­bour and, as its his­toric past in the Old Jail, MacLel­lans’s Cas­tle, the Tol­booth and Greyfri­ars Church be­gins to un­fold, I can un­der­stand why its po­si­tion off the beaten track has be­come pop­u­lar.

The Vauxhall Grand­land X in front of MacLel­lan’s Cas­tle in Kirkcud­bright, above and be­low left

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