WELL, ISN’T THAT GRAND!

IT SEL­DOM GETS AS TOUGH FOR A CAR BRAND TO SUR­VIVE THAN WHEN A PAR­ENT COM­PANY DISINVESTS FROM A MAR­KET, LEAV­ING OWN­ERS AND DEAL­ERS SCRAM­BLING FOR COVER. YET, OPEL SEEMS TO HAVE MADE LEMON­ADE IN THE SIX MONTHS SINCE GEN­ERAL MO­TORS’ DE­PAR­TURE FROM SOUTH AFR

In Flight Magazine - - SMART SHOPPING - { TEXT: BERNIE HELLBERG | IM­AGES © OPEL SOUTH AFRICA }

The Opel brand has been on some­what of a bumpy ride in South Africa dur­ing the last cou­ple of years. Its once proud lo­cal her­itage has been re­duced to a shadow of its for­mer self as a re­sult of luke­warm sales and vir­tu­ally no mar­ket­ing sup­port com­ing from its in­creas­ingly dis­in­ter­ested par­ent, GM.

How­ever, all that seems to have been rel­e­gated to the dust­bin of his­tory by Opel’s new lo­cal dis­trib­u­tors, Wil­liams Hunt Group, who have seem­ingly been hard at work re­boot­ing the Opel brand and re­vi­tal­is­ing its dealer net­work – now 35 fran­chises strong.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

With the ar­rival of the new Grandland X, Opel sig­nals its in­ten­tion to tackle the bur­geon­ing cross­over SUV seg­ment head-on, with a so­phis­ti­cated of­fer­ing that’s as good as, if not bet­ter than a fist­ful of its ri­vals.

Based on its very com­pe­tent cousin and 2018 WesBank South African Car of theYear Fi­nal­ist, the Peu­geot 3008, the new Grandland X faces tough com­pe­ti­tion from across the globe. The Korean duo of the HyundaiTuc­son and Kia Sportage beats it (slightly) on price for sim­i­lar range of­fer­ings, while the Opel

sig­nif­i­cantly beats its only other Ger­man ri­val, the Volk­swa­gen Tiguan, in this de­part­ment.Toy­ota’s age­ing RAV4 still holds its own on price, but can’t com­pete with the Opel’s high lev­els of new in­te­rior tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing Ap­ple CarPlay com­pat­i­bil­ity on all mod­els.

A MODEL LINE-UP

Opel starts bid­ding on the Grandland X with three de­riv­a­tives – 1.6 Turbo, 1.6 Turbo En­joy, and 1.6 Turbo Cosmo – that are all pow­ered by the same force-fed 121 kW and 240 Nm 1.6-litre en­gine that is sourced from Peu­geot, cou­pled to a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, also de­rived from the French au­tomaker. A 2.0-litre tur­bod­iesel op­tion is set to join the line-up early in 2019, with that en­gine also likely car­ried over from the Peu­geot 3008.

Al­though we did not have an op­por­tu­nity to drive the new Opel at the launch view­ing, we could ex­plore the car both in­side and out, re­veal­ing the car’s typ­i­cally Ger­man min­i­mal­ist in­te­rior, swathed in high-grade ma­te­ri­als.

Sur­pris­ingly high lev­els of stan­dard spec are found from range en­try (R429,000),with gen­er­ous leg and lug­gage room dis­tin­guish­ing the Grandland X from its ri­vals.The boot, for ex­am­ple, is one of the big­gest in the seg­ment, mea­sur­ing 514 litres with the rear seats up. Col­laps­ing them un­locks 1,652 litres of us­able space.

Cli­mate and cruise con­trol, park-as­sist and LED day­time run­ning lights are stan­dard fare across the range, with the En­joy de­riv­a­tive (R465,000) adding 17” al­loys (the en­try level car has 16” wheels), rain-sens­ing wipers and au­to­matic head­lights, as well as a lane-de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tem.The flag­ship Cosmo (R565,000) comes fully equipped with 18” al­loy wheels, heated leather seats, blind-spot alert, nav­i­ga­tion and self-park, adap­tive LED head­lights, a power tail­gate and more.

FI­NAL SAY

Al­though we will re­serve fi­nal judge­ment on the Grandland X’s dy­namic abil­i­ties un­til we’ve had a chance to get be­hind the wheel, we ex­pect the Opel to be very sim­i­lar in feel to its Peu­geot 3008 cousin. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

BEST FOR… High-specced Ger­man min­i­mal­ism.

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