CAPE TOWN – Vanilla-flavoured ice-cream is always a conservative but safe choice. My mom had a confectionary shop that also sold ice-cream. I used to sample all the flavours, including chocolate (sprinkled with nuts), rum ‘n’ raisin, peppermint and strawberry, to name but a few. After a couple of months, though, I was back at vanilla. Does this frozen analogy apply to Opel’s Grandland X? I spent a weekend with the vehicle to find out.
As mentioned in our August 2018 road test of the original model, the Grandland X and its smaller sibling (the Crossland X) are products based on PSA Group vehicles thanks to the acquisition of the Opel brand from General Motors. In the case of the Grandland X, its sister car is the Peugeot 3008, although you would never be able to tell from the exterior or interior styling. But it certainly shares the underpinnings and drivetrain.
Opel has announced updates to the mid-spec Enjoy version tested here, upping the wheel size to 18 inches and adding front foglamps, rear privacy glass and aluminium roof rails.
A “Plus Package” is also available for customers who want to add a panoramic sunroof, the SatNav 900 IntelliLink infotainment system and heating functions for the front leather seats and steering wheel. The heated steering wheel, normally available only in colder markets, was a boon during a chilly period in Cape Town. It’s the type of feature you never knew you needed…
Interestingly, we phoned a couple of dealerships and they were not aware of this package, with one eventually quoting a price of around R70 000. This, however, pushes the asking price uncomfortably close to the top-spec Cosmo model, which doesn’t make much sense to me.
Still, there is some favourable news for the consumer: the warranty now stretches five years or 150 000 km, up from the previous five-year/120 000 km arrangement. The service plan has also quietly been upgraded, from five years or 90 000 km to five years or 100 000 km.
Styling in an out
In contrast to the French flair employed on the 3008, the Grandland X is smart yet conservative in the styling department. The larger wheels and dark hue of the test car added some elegance but did not push the appearance boundaries in a sea of crossover choices in our market.
Inside, the Grandland X follows a similar vein, with the use of dark leather and the black facia resulting in a somewhat sombre atmosphere. There are plenty of soft-touch areas, though, and there is an overall sense of quality present. In addition, the specification list is generous, including the likes of climate control, cruise control, electric seats and auto headlamps.
The Grandland X range is powered exclusively by a 1,6-litre turbopetrol unit delivering 121 kW and 240 N.m to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Suprisingly, Opel has opted for an old-school gate movement (older readers will remember) of the transmission lever, which takes some getting used to. Once on the move, the powerplant is willing, albeit somewhat rough at certain engine speeds, and provides adequate punch when needed. The claimed fuel consumption of 7,0 L/100 km is slightly optimistic as a weekend’s worth of mixed driveing returned a figure of around 9,0 L/ 100 km.
There is no powertrain mode button and therefore one calibration must suffice for all driving scenarios. The result is somewhat compromised in the sense that gearshifts are not as urgent when the driver is in a hurry. The pilot can take manual control via the shift lever (there are no shift paddles) if needed but the response is still relatively slow (although that’s generally fine for the application of a family shuttle).
Ride and handling
Overall, the ride is good if ever-so-slightly firm. Maybe the 18-inch wheels should take some blame here, along with the fact that a basic torsion-beam suspension arrangement is employed at the rear. The steering is accurate, and in combination with the fairly sporty suspension, aids the feeling of nimbleness from behind the steering wheel.
Dimensionally, this Opel is almost equal in size to my Kia Sportage long-term test vehicle but it somehow feels smaller to pilot, which is a positive in city surrounds. It has a big-enough boot (312 litres, according to CAR’s measuring system) to cater for end-of-the month shopping trips but a roof box would be required for extended family holidays.
In short, the Grandland X is the vanilla flavour of SUVs. It’s the safe choice for individuals who need honest family transport while blending in with the general car park. It has enough creature comforts to lift the cabin towards the premium segment and is easy to drive. It lacks a unique selling point though and some would say that life is too short to eat only vanilla ice-cream. For others though, the security of a safe choice will be enough to clinch the deal.