As a family fortunate enough to regularly drive new cars through the missus’ work company car scheme, I like to think that I’ve learnt one or two things about cars. Sure, I don’t *really* know what a lot of the numbers mean or how a car actually functions, but I’ve been behind the wheel of plenty and understand what works – and what doesn’t work – for us as a growing family.
Something that works for us are SUVs (sports utility vehicles). The missus and I are both big fans of SUVs in general – we’ve had three in the last year and a bit and have another two coming soon! There’s something about the combination of safety, comfort, practicality, space, looks and the elevated seating position which ticks all of the boxes.
As such, I was intrigued to try out Vauxhall’s latest offering to the SUV market – the Grandland X. Vauxhall are no strangers to SUVs, with the Crossland X and the Mokka X already on their books. However, in the Grandland X, they add a bigger sibling with a sense of grandness – perfect for those who want a highly spec’d SUV for the family that also possesses a sporty design and off-road looks.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I was offered the chance to loan a Grandland X. The model we received had the Elite Nav trim level, a 1.6 turbo diesel engine, a 6-speed manual gearbox, stop start and the premium Golden Sunstone exterior paint – or Grandland X Elite Nav 1.6 (120PS) Turbo D S/S if you like your acronyms.
As part of reviewing the car, Vauxhall also challenged me to highlight some of the ways the Grandland X added a sense of grandness and made my driving experience grander – after all, its strap line is Just A Little More Grand. Over a three day period, the Grandland X came with me on all manner of parenting ‘adventures’ – the nursery run, soft play, the tip and even to our weekly swimming class. We also used it on a particularly grand trip to London to see OVO by Cirque Du Soleil – it doesn’t get grander than a red carpet premier at the Royal Albert Hall!
My overall impressions were good – the Grandland X was comfortable to drive, was packed with features, had ample space and oozed style. I was more than happy to call it my car, albeit, sadly, only for a few days. Below, you’ll find my full thoughts:
Let’s start with the exterior. It may not be a ‘sexy sports car’, but as far as SUVs go, I like the look of the Grandland X. It has lines and curves in all of the right places and the Elite Nav trim level gives it a sportier and grander appearance than the other models.
This includes alloy-effect front and rear skid plates, 19-inch diamond-cut allow wheels, dark-tinted rear windows and adaptive LED headlights. It’s a car that you’ll notice – in fact, I had two separate delivery drivers comment on its appearance and take a closer look as it sat on our drive!
During my numerous trips in the car, I became very comfortable with my surroundings. The interior is made from soft touch plastics, whilst a leather-covered steering wheel and leather ergonomic sports-style front seats add that touch of grandeur which the name suggests.
This is amplified when you discover additional features like the power driver seat which allows you to move the seat electronically, adjustable lumbar support and heated seats (as part of Winter Pack 2) – all little luxuries that improve the driving experience.
I was particularly impressed with the visibility. The heightened position that an SUV brings not only gives you an improved perspective of your surroundings when on the road, but it always makes me feel more confident as a driver. Who’d have thought a few extra inches would make all the difference.
Whether it was doing 20mph over speed bumps as we passed the school or 60mph on a winding country road, the drive was comfortable and the car handled well. A bit more power and acceleration through something like a ‘Sports’ button would have been appreciated, but that’s personal preference.
The more I drove the car, the more I discovered – it turns out that the car is jam-packed with features, all designed to make every day feel that bit more grand. For instance, there’s an 8″ colour touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a digital radio and a built in sat-nav – the latter helped massively with our grand trip to the Royal Albert Hall as we didn’t know where we were going.
There was also the optional extra of a heated windshield, which when combined with the heated seats and steering wheel, made the 7.45am nursery run in January more of a pleasure than a chore. I may have even sat in the car longer than needed to get warm…
Something I particularly liked when I reviewed the Vauxhall Astra last year was OnStar. This is Vauxhall’s concierge service and includes automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, vehicle diagnostics and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The latter comes in really useful as it means you can listen to music or give the kids something to watch without having to consider your mobile phone data.
The optional extra of wireless charging – located in the armrest – also ensures battery life isn’t a worry when said kids have had your phone. I find that my phone battery isn’t the best, so being able to wirelessly charge it in the car ensures I never miss a photo opportunity, be it at soft play, taking the dog for a walk or a visit to the zoo.
The Grandland X also has plenty of safety features which improve the driving experience. For example, the lane departure warning system activates if you’re drifting outside of the lines and automatically recorrects the steering.
There’s also a blind spot sensor which lights up an LED in either wing mirror when a car enters your blind spot to alert you that something is there. That’s two potentially life-saving additions which provide comfort and security when driving with the family.
The car also has front and rear sensors which beep when something gets too close, as well as a rear reversing camera and 360 degrees camera which appear on the infotainment screen when the car is put into reverse.
I find these great additions to the driver’s toolkit when manoeuvring the car, not only in terms of actually parking, but also awareness of what – and who – is around. For instance, the cameras helped massively when reversing into a parking spot at the swimming pool and when parallel parking at a friend’s house – the latter I struggle massively with!
When it came to the boot, I was impressed at how spacious it was – I didn’t measure, but it’s supposedly 1,652 litres. To test it out, I put in our large, off-road travel system and it fitted comfortably. I was also pleased to see that the boot was pretty flat and square – there’s nothing more annoying than chunks of plastic intruding onto the space and making it awkward to use. We didn’t use the car for a weekend away, but it’d be more than adequate to hold all of our stuff.
If required – like when I had to do the proper adult chore of going to the tip – the rear seats fold down and the parcel shelf can be removed to create even more space. This allowed me to get rid of months and months of cardboard boxes and the remains of a wardrobe that didn’t fit properly into our car. Just to note, the seats fold in a 60/40 split, which is fine, but personally I prefer the more useful 40 / 20 / 40 which allows you to work around a car seat.
Another cool feature was the power tailgate – by waving your foot under the bumper, just like magic, the boot pops up on its own. How grand is that?! This was the first time I’ve had a car with this feature, so I was interested to see if it was useful or a gimmick.
It’s definitely got its applications – just think about having your hands full with a baby and the shopping and being unable to open the boot. I did struggle to get it to work a few times though – with practice, I imagine I’d get used to the exact spot where I needed to wiggle my foot.
Let’s move to the kid’s domain in the back of the car. I found that there was also ample space to fit a car seat without encroaching on the front passenger seat – this is a huge bugbear of mine! Even better, the ISOFIX anchorage points were easy to find, so fitting the car seat took no more than 30 seconds.
When inside, it felt spacious with plenty of head room available. L obviously did a number of trips with me and she was more than happy in “Daddy’s new gold car”.
Finally, something I’ve not come across before is the integrated smartphone app. I was able to download this on Android, login using the details provided then control aspects of the car directly from my phone.
For instance, I could lock and unlock the car remotely and even beep the horn to remind me where I’d parked. A little gimmicky perhaps, but I’m sure there’s applications for it and it’s always pretty cool to do things differently.
In summary, I really enjoyed driving the Vauxhall Grandland X Elite Nav. It did everything I’d expect of an SUV, with some nice added touches like the array of safety features. As a family who often need to compromise between functionality, practicality, safety and style, I think the Grandland X allows us to tick each of these boxes. It certainly adds another good (or dare I say it, ‘grand’) option for those interested in getting an SUV as their family car.
Disclosure: This is a commissioned post in collaboration with Vauxhall. We were loaned with The Grandland X for a few days in order to test, review and write an honest post about our thoughts.