As a regular contributor to Fleet News on all matters concerning commercial vehicles, and as editor of our former sister title Fleet Van, I must admit that it is a long time since I’ve actually driven a car. I don’t own one myself and my time is largely spent testing heavier vehicles.
So my first thought when I climbed aboard our long term test Vauxhall Grandland X was: “Wow – this would make cracking little van!”
The rules for manufacturers turning a car into a legit van are fairly simply – you simply blank out the rear side windows, weld plates over the holes where the rear seats are fitted and put down a load floor. I wonder if anyone at Vauxhall has ever thought of doing this with the Grandland? I’ll have to mention it next time I’m down Luton way interviewing one of the head honchos.
The Grandland certainly lives up to its name. It’s a grand looker with great chunky build quality and is well up to its task of locking horns with its main rival the mighty Nissan Qashqai, not to mention the welter of other contenders in the sector.
I’m destined to be driving this car until Vauxhall provides us with a long-term Combo van, so it will be interesting to see how a crusty old van boy like myself gets on with it. I’m certainly looking forward to saving a bit of cash at the pumps as this car is slated to return more than 67 miles per gallon. Will it, though, in real life? Watch this space and see.
Earlier this month, Vauxhall announced that it is to introduce a plug-in version of its Grandland X SUV.
Offering CO2 emissions of 49g/km, a zero emissions range of 30 miles, and a combined fuel economy of 128mpg, it will become the manufacturer’s most efficient SUV.
Those figures are undoubtedly impressive, but our long-term Grandland X 1.5 Turbo D Tech Line Nav also makes a strong case for itself when crunching the numbers.
It is currently averaging 55.3mpg, while its CO2 emissions of 113g/km put it in the 30% benefit-in-kind tax bracket, meaning a 20% taxpayer would face a monthly company car tax bill of £124.
As talked about in previous long-term test updates, its appeal also stretches beyond that. It’s highly practical and well built, while it’s also proved to be an excellent motorway cruiser.
A couple of work meetings down in the south of the country gave me the chance to stretch the legs of our Vauxhall Grandland X long-termer – and it proved to be an accomplished long-distance cruiser.
Comfortable and refined at motorway speeds, the SUV is well suited to this environment, while its high seating position also gives a commanding view of the road ahead.
Extra awareness about what is going on around the car is provided by the blind spot indicators which are standard on our Tech Line trim model.
This equipment grade also includes front and rear parking sensors, a safety pack featuring automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness system and forward collision alert.
It also has an eight-inch infotainment system which is used by the standard sat-nav – a system which was called into action unexpectedly on my way home.
Having driven a car without sat-nav but with Android Auto for a spell, I’ve got used to using Google Maps for navigation. In particular, I find the traffic updates and suggested re-routes particularly useful.
However, due entirely to operator error (I ran out of mobile phone data as I was inadvertently streaming podcasts which I thought I’d downloaded), Google Maps froze and I was left on a back road between Milton Keynes and Banbury, unsure where to head to.
The solution was simple: I pulled over and used the fitted sat-nav, and it couldn’t have been more straightforward.
Easy to programme and follow, it made me wonder why I’d initially opted to use my mobile phone data in the first place, and not rely on the car’s own system instead.
I may even have got to listen to a few more minutes of my podcasts as well!
Practicality is a key attribute for any SUV, and our Grandland X Tech Line fares well in this area.
It offers plenty of head and legroom for all passengers, while the interior has ample storage space for any drinks or small items you might have.
The boot is a good size too. At 514 litres with the rear seat up it is larger than that of the Nissan Qashqai (430 litres) and Seat Ateca (510 litres), and its carrying capacity grows to 1,652 litres when the surprisingly heavy seat backs are folded down.
Disappointingly though, this doesn’t create a flat loading area, with around a 10cm step up from the boot floor to the top of the folded seat backs.
Better news is that the Grandland X has a powered electric tailgate which can be opened either by a button just above the numberplate or remotely by using the key. It’s been a useful feature on many occasions and helps give the car more of a premium feel.
The Grandland X’s dashboard was once again aglow with a warning light after last month’s ‘false’ service one.
This time it was an AdBlue top-up – and the warning was genuine. We’d clocked up more than 5,000 miles in the Grandland X by then which is enough to warrant a top-up in some cars, depending on the types of journeys you’ve been doing and driving style.
In the Grandland X the initial warning comes on when there is 1,500 miles left and then the driver is reminded every 200 miles.
Unfortunately, getting AdBlue at the pumps is still rare – our nearest fuel station with one is 35 minutes away – but it is available to buy in a container from many outlets.
What’s behind a dashboard warning light? What can that luminous spanner mean so soon in Grandland X’s life?
It wasn’t alone when it appeared, but helpfully accompanied by a message saying “10 months or 0 miles until next service”.
Now I’d heard of cars needing a service after a couple of thousand miles, but I thought they were now being described as ‘modern classics’, rather than cutting edge.
It turns out that spanner carries some weight.
A call to Vauxhall saw an engineer come to the office to check it out. Our Vauxhall contact provided the details once the issue was fixed.
According to the technicians in the workshop, she said, the issue with the car was a problem with the Grandland X service interval mileage settings.
“Some Grandlands were built with the wrong software where the service interval was set to only 3,000 miles.”
This was noticed by the UK team and passed onto to the plant to fix the issue affecting all GLX models currently being built.
“For the ones already built we have a software fix which can be applied to get rid of the error,” she said. This was duly done on our long-termer.
Don’t ignore the spanner.
Since a house move in April I’ve become a commuter. I’ve gone from a seven-minute journey between home and work to an hour’s trek.
As my partner pithily noted (after we’d exchanged contracts): “We’re more likely to die in a road accident now.”
While she has her eye on my life insurance policy, I’ve become sensitive to the comfort, economy and safety features of the cars I drive.
So, it’s been reassuring to learn that in 2017, the Grandland X achieved a five star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
It scored 85% and 84% for adult and child occupant safety, respectively. The latter being among the best-in-class at the time of testing.
The Vauxhall benefits from standard safety features such as speed sign assistance and lane-departure warning.
There are six airbags and a seatbelt alert system for the front and rear seats.
Our Tech Line version has a host more. An inclusive safety pack provides side blind spot alert, which helps prevent collisions by illuminating a light in the door mirror if there is a car that may be hidden from view.
Lane-keep assist provides gentle steering inputs to keep the car in lane at speeds above 40mph.
The safety pack also comprises of driver drowsiness system, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking.
Our car additionally features the Park and Go Pack 2, costing £550. It includes an autonomous parking system and a rear view camera.
The P11D value of our car is £24,210, cheaper than the entry-level SE at £24,585, making the Tech Line a compelling fleet choice.
VIDEO: Watch the video of the Euro NCAP crash tests here, including a demonstration of the effectiveness of the optional automatic emergency braking system at different speeds
The UK’s appetite for SUVs shows no sign of stalling, with the segment accounting for around 26% of the fleet registrations so far in 2018, up more than 3% year-on-year.
Into this highly competitive market comes the last of Vauxhall’s three X family of models, the Grandland.
With competition from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage, the Grandland is up against the most popular SUVs in the market.
Available since December, Vauxhall said it had amassed 100,000 European orders before it went on sale, with customers split 75:25 between retail and user-chooser fleets.
Alongside the smaller Crossland X, the Grandland X is one of the first Vauxhalls to be built on a PSA platform - sharing its underpinnings with the new Peugeot 3008 SUV.
Another result of PSA’s acquisition of Vauxhall/Opel is the choice of one of its new engines, now added to the range. The all-new Euro 6.2-compliant 1.5-litre turbo D, replaces the previous entry level 1.6 diesel engine.
While power has been increased by 10PS to 130PS, WLTP testing gives it a CO2 emission level of 108g/km (NEDC correlated). Combined fuel consumption is 67.3mpg. It also meets Euro 6d-Temp regulations for nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The other engine available in the Grandland X is the 1.2-litre turbo petrol (127-117g/km CO2, combined 51.4mpg-55.4mpg). A more powerful diesel unit is also available.
Its standard features include the Navi 5.0 IntelliLink navigation system, AppleCar Play and Android Auto, cruise control, multi-spoke alloy wheels, front and rear parking distance sensors, lane departure warning and lane assist, and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.
With the Grandland X taking nearly 5% of fleet market share in its SUV segment, the new Vauxhall is beginning to make its mark.