A solid, quiet and comfortable ride inside the Vauxhall Grandland X

A solid, quiet and comfortable ride inside the Vauxhall Grandland X

Launched at the 2017 IAA show, the Vauxhall Grandland X is another contender in the booming SUV segment. Continuing QUBE/just-auto's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this compact class SUV to see if it has that X factor.

Vauxhall says the Grandland X is aimed at retail and "true fleet" customers, with a 75:25 split in favour of the former. True fleet is the traditional user-chooser company car driver, the larger fleets excluding rental and Motability. The carmaker regards rivals to the Grandland X as the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage.

"The interior of the Grandland X features an attractive harmony of style and functionality," said Mark Adams, Vauxhall/Opel's Vice President, Design. "Access is easy, even for taller occupants and the driver and front-seat passenger can enjoy the additional comfort of optional ergonomic AGR seats. The infotainment system display is positioned high up in the instrument panel for optimum visibility while the surrounding décor gives the fingers a stable base to rest on, allowing for convenient operation."

The cockpit feels plush, cloaked in soft-touch material, a glossy, minimalist centre console and touches of chrome dotted around. While scratchy plastic interior surfaces are at ankle level, what SUV in this class doesn't have that? The dash layout is plain and simple yet functions predictably with a logical arrangement on the centre stack. Forward visibility from its lofty seating position is quite good. Rear visibility is, like most SUVs, poor due to the shallow rear window and deep and thick door pillars. 

There are four trim levels to choose from: SE, Tech Line Nav, Sport Nav and Elite Nav. The long list of creature comforts fitted as standard on our press review range-topping Elite Nav include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors and parking sensors front and rear.  Other welcome driver convenience functions include a wireless smartphone charging pad and headlights that bend as you enter a corner and automatically dip when approached by another vehicle.

Our Grandland X also featured a button on the centre stack to defrost the windscreen and another to heat the front seats and leather steering wheel. The front seat heating function may also be operated via the touchscreen. By switching on the heated rear window, the heated wing mirrors are automatically activated.

At 4.48 metres long, it is the largest SUV in Vauxhall's range, offering more cabin space than the 20 centimetre-shorter Mokka X and Crossland X.  Its long wheelbase of 2,675mm means the compact class SUV provides just enough space for up to five people. For the driver and front seat passenger, there is ample head and leg room in the lofty cabin. Yet tall rear seat passengers could feel squeezed due to some quite thick front seats backs, thereby limiting the amount of knee room. Rear passenger head room, however, is quite good despite the panoramic roof. Unlike certain rival models, the rear seats do not slide and recline.

Further back, the Grandland X's boot provides 514-litres of space with the 60/40 rear seats in the upright position and 1,652-litres with the seats folded flat. Beneath the boot floor liner is, joy of joys, an actual spare wheel if you need it (itself an optional extra priced £110). Talking of storage, the various cubby holes located around the cabin are quite small, including the illuminated glove box.

ADAS pack includes park assist

Grandland X comes with a full suite of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technologies, including forward collection alert with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. As the name suggests, this operates via the front camera to monitor the traffic situation in front of the vehicle and is able to detect mobile and parked cars as well as pedestrians. If the distance between an obstacle ahead – be that a vehicle or pedestrian – rapidly decreases, the system uses visual and audible warnings, and brakes automatically as necessary.

The Grandland X offers driver drowsiness alert. As the name suggests, it alerts the driver if the car's movement and speed indicates that the driver may be tired. Active when driving above 40mph, the system notifies the driver after two hours of sustained driver above that speed, suggesting a break every hour after that point until a break is taken. Louder and more persistent alerts are issued if the system detects dangerous driving, which again can be reset by the driving speed being reduced for a sustained period, or a break being taken. 

Other ADAS technologies include side blind spot alert, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, traction control/hill start assist and front and rear parking distance sensors. For example, the blind spot alert uses sensors to detect all other road users and warn the driver via an amber icon in the wing mirror. The lane departure warning issues audible and visible signals if it notices you drifting out of lane unintentionally. You also feel a little resistance through the steering wheel.

Full visibility when parking is possible with the help of a 360-degree camera. The advanced park assist can identify suitable parking spaces and automatically park the car without the driver touching the steering wheel. The sensor-based system measures parallel to perpendicular parking spots, calculates the vehicle's trajectory and automatically steers the Grandland X into a space. The driver just controls acceleration, deceleration and gear shifting. To further assist, a camera mounted about the rear licence plate displays the area behind the car on the infotainment screen. This technology can also manoeuvre the SUV out of a spot when bay parked between two other vehicles.

Infotainment and connectivity

Grandland X drivers and passengers can get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto through a new version of the IntelliLink infotainment system, Bluetooth audio streaming and USB connectivity. An eight-inch touchscreen positioned centre-stage is quick to respond, simple to use and helps eliminate a few buttons otherwise found dotted across the dash. Set beneath the touchscreen is a shallow ledge to help steady your hand as you swipe through various screens. The heating and air-con, however, is still controlled by three dials positioned amongst a row of other HVAC and front seat heater buttons. These make it far easier to use while driving instead of trying to poke and prod at a touchscreen as fitted to some competing models.

The Grandland X also comes fitted as standard with Vauxhall's personal connectivity and service assistant, OnStar, turning this car into a 4G LTE mobile hotspot.  Up to seven devices, from smartphones to tablets, can be connected simultaneously. While OnStar has been available for some time, it includes new services such as hotel booking and parking space search. However, we understand that Vauxhall OnStar services will be cancelled in December 2020. The move follows Vauxhall's takeover by PSA. OnStar is owned by General Motors.

On the road

The Grandland X we borrowed for a grand day out – painted White Jade with a striking black roof - was powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Although it is not available with four-wheel drive, a rotary dial on the centre console promises Grip Control to ensure traction in slippery conditions. The driver has a choice of five driving modes: for each one the system adapts the torque distribution to the front wheels, allows wheel-spin if necessary, and, with the automatic transmission, adjusts shift points as well as throttle response. This ensures traction and stable handling regardless of the road surface.

The car's fuel economy lived up to expectations. While the headlined combined high average fuel economy is 43.5 mpg, our spin covering motorways, country roads and town traffic pretty much matched that. Drive-wise, the Grandland X is easy to live with but doesn't set pulses racing. Fully loaded up with passengers and clutter, it still managed to deliver just enough oomph when needed.

While the Grandland X interior lacks a wow factor, it does offer a solid, quiet and comfortable ride. The seats' accreditation by Germany's Campaign for Healthier backs (AGR) gets our approval too. Although Vauxhall arrived late to the SUV party in 2017, does it really matter? The real debate is how well the Grandland X stacks up against many of its rivals. While it may not be the most fashionable SUV out there, it does provide a decent amount of luggage space and plenty of driver comfort, convenience and safety technologies.