Review and road test of the Vauxhall Grandland X (2018 - 2021)
IT'LL BE GRAND
By Jonathan Crouch
Back at the end of this century's second decade, Vauxhall needed competitive representation in the growing SUV C-segment for mid-sized family Crossovers; this Grandland X provided it. What we had here was basically a repackaged version of Peugeot's 3008. The drive dynamics weren't particularly involving but this was one of the more spacious and efficient contenders in the Qashqai class. This car wasn't a magazine favourite but it certainly ticked a lot of boxes are ticked here.
5dr SUV (1.2 Turbo, 1.5 Turbo D, 2.0 Turbo D, 1.6 petrol Hybrid, 1.6 petrol Hybrid 4)
It took Vauxhall until 2018 to launch this Grandland X, this model on the face of things something of a late comer to the class for mid-sized 'Qashqai'-class family crossovers. Actually, that's not really true. Vauxhall competed half-heartedly in this sector for nearly a decade between 2006 and 2015 with its Korean-built Antara, which replaced the Luton-built Frontera model launched way back in 1991. Neither of these crossovers really hit the segment sweet spot though and neither was helped by brittle build quality that could charitably be described as 'patchy'.
By the middle of this century's second decade though, Vauxhall had got on board with the kind of SUVs modern family buyers really wanted, launching its supermini-based Mokka model in 2012 and shortly afterwards, entering into an agreement with Peugeot to share the engineering of two further contenders in this class. By late 2017, all of this planning was beginning to bear fruit. The Mokka became the 'Mokka X' courtesy of a far-reaching update and was re-positioned just above a new Peugeot-platformed small B-segment SUV, the Crossland X. Shortly afterwards, the Grandland X arrived, a C-segment SUV that at last gave Vauxhall brand loyalists who might be looking at something Astra-sized an arguably more interesting showroom option.
Of course, to realise its production objectives, this car had also attract conquest sales from other more established brands in this sector, so it needed features to help it stand out. Hence things like visual personalisation, efficient engines and a neat 'IntelliGrip' system to enhance traction on slippery surfaces. There was also a Plug-in Hybrid version, offered with either front or four wheel drive. The Grandland X sold modestly until the middle of 2021, when it was lightly updated and rebranded the 'Grandland'. It's the earlier 2018-2021-era Grandland X models we look at here.
What You Get
It's a compliment to Vauxhall that from an aesthetic point of view, this Grandland X very much has its own identity. You certainly wouldn't initially know this car to be as closely related to its Peugeot 3008 donor design as it actually is, British styling chief Mark Adams and his team having worked hard at developing the elegant, carefully crafted SUV brand character that had already been established in the company's smaller Crossland X and Mokka X models. We approve of the fact that this is one of the larger contenders in the SUV C-segment too, so unlike some rivals, it can offer versatile practicality that's a genuine improvement over that of the family hatchback it's based upon.
And inside? Well switch to a Grandland X from, say, a comparably-priced upper-spec Astra family hatch and there's hardly any acclimatisation required, though you will approvingly note the slightly raised driving position that Crossover buyers like so much. The centrepiece of the smartly styled dash is the beautifully-integrated Intellilink infotainment screen which incorporates the usual DAB stereo, Bluetooth 'phone and informational functions. Get a car whose original owner specified the optional satellite navigation system and the screen size increases from 7 to 8-inches.
What about space in the rear? Well, in terms of legroom, there's space for an average-sized adult to sit behind a six-foot driver in reasonable comfort. Like most cars in this class, you'd really be pushing things if you wanted to try and accommodate three adults in the back but a reasonably low centre transmission tunnel makes that possible if need be. As for the boot, well once the tailgate raises, a 514-litre capacity is revealed. Activate the useful side cargo wall latches to push forward the backrest and everything falls almost completely flat, freeing up 1,652-litres of total space.
What to Look For
Though quite a few owners in our survey seemed happy, there are certainly things that you'll need to look for. We've come across reports of weak batteries in several models - if the engine won't crank or cranks very slowly then that's a tell-tale giveaway. In a number of instances, there were problems with corrosion on the battery. And in other instances, a weak key fob battery caused problems with the start stop button functionality on the dash. We came across issues with broken starter motors - if you turn the key and hear a clicking sound, that's the tell-tale giveaway. And in some other instances, we had reports of alternator failure, clogged fuel filters, fuel pump failures, blown fuses and defective spark plugs.
Make sure that the infotainment system works as it should and doesn't freeze or crash. If it does, the system might need an update. More expensive versions have big 19-inch alloy wheels that could easily have picked up kerbing damage. Check the cabin for the usual family scuffs and scratches. And bear in mind that the OnStar emergency roadside assistance, Wi-Fi and concierge service that was originally fitted to this model doesn't now work. That was a system provided by General Motors who no longer own the Vauxhall brand and hasn't functioned in Vauxhall cars since the end of 2020.
There were various product recalls you might need to know about. One related to engine piston failure; in another case, models fitted with leather seats had an issue with the side airbags failing to deploy. 2018 model cars had a recall regarding the possibility of an oil link from a cylinder block oil plug. And some Grandland X models fitted with diesel powerplant - models manufactured between the end of February 2018 and the end of June of that year - may require either a diesel particulate filter or an update to control software if they're to return the emissions levels that they should. There was also a recall for the central seat belt on some models made in June 2019. Check that all these recalls have been carried out if they affect the model you're looking at.
(approx based on a 2019 Grandland X 1.2 Turbo - Ex Vat) An air filter costs in the £18 bracket. An oil filter costs in the £9 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £55 bracket for a set; for a rear set, it's in the £90 to £95 bracket. Rear brake discs sit in the £53 bracket. A radiator is around £146. And a pollen filter is in the £17-30 bracket. A wiper blade is in the £7-£17 bracket.
On the Road
We'd anticipate that your expectations of a car of this kind when it comes to drive dynamics will probably be pretty modest. You'll want quite a commanding driving position, a comfortable ride, reasonable refinement, decently responsive engines and, well, that's likely to be about it. If you're after a C-segment SUV that you can throw around a bit, then this one certainly won't suit. Take a more typically relaxed approach though and everything becomes much more satisfactory. It soaks up bumps and tarmac tears that would trouble many rivals. Plus it's relatively quiet and easy to manoeuvre, particularly around town where the light steering that hampers you at speed becomes a boon. That slightly raised driving position is delivered - but not to the point where acclimatisation would be required if you were moving into a model like this from something more conventional.
Under the skin, this Vauxhall shares almost everything with its two PSA Group cousins, Peugeot's 3008 and Citroen's C5 Aircross. That includes its 'EMP2' platform and a range of engines that see mainstream buyers choosing between a 130bhp 1.2-litre three cylinder turbo petrol unit or a frugal 120bhp 1.6-litre four cylinder diesel (quickly replaced by a more efficient 1.5-litre diesel unit). Both of the mainstream powerplants could be had with the option of a 6-speed automatic for those not wanting the not especially sweet-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox provided as standard. The petrol powerplant manages 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and 117g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures), readings you'll struggle to better in the Qashqai class from this era. There's no 4WD option on mainstream models, but original buyers could pay extra for an 'IntelliGrip' system that gave a choice of modes that'll improve front wheel traction on slippery surfaces.
The other engine alternative is a 1.6-litre PHEV unit, which was offered in the Grandland X with either front or 4WD. Most chose front wheel drive, in which form, the car could offer up to 34 miles of all-electric range.
And in summary? Well this Grandland X was never any kind of class leader, but it was a product that proved to have been carefully thought through, bringing together virtually all the things that family buyers prioritise in this segment in a well-judged and relatively affordable package.
We think the development team did well to give this product a look and feel that was so distinct from that of its French cousins. You'll need to choose carefully in the used market though - we came across a number of issues in our survey. Find a well looked-after Grandland X though and you may also find much to like.
Vauxhall Grandland X (2018 - 2021) review by Jonathan Crouch