The Ultimate test - case for and against buying new highest spec Opel Grandland X
Whether it's post-recession affluence or adding up the figures on the monthly PCP repayments and deciding we can afford some extra luxury, it seems more of us are opting for higher specs and additional features in our cars.
Having launched its Grandland X SUV late last year, Opel tells us that around two-thirds of customers in Europe are opting for the highest trim available.
Opel in Ireland reports similar findings and adds there has also been a significant take-up on optional extras such as ergonomic seats and LED lights.
It's that market the brand is targeting with a new top-of-the-range Ultimate trim.
It comes with a hefty price hike - at €41,595, the Ultimate is an additional €5,500 over and above the hitherto top spec Elite model - but does have some desirable kit as standard.
First and foremost is a new 2-litre diesel engine allied to an 8spd automatic transmission. With only a choice between a 120PS 1.6 diesel or 130PS 1.2 petrol to date, this 177PS/400Nm engine is a welcome addition. It also has a useful 2-tonne towing capacity compared to just 1.4 tonnes for the 1.6 diesel.
Other standard items over the Elite trim include 19in alloys, LED adaptive forward lighting, a 360 degree panoramic camera, contrasting black roof/door mirrors, heated rear seats, automatic cruise control, as well as an upgraded sound system. That new engine and torque converter automatic gearbox combination is impressive. Compared to the alternative CVT auto box it is much more responsive.
For a car with premium aspirations, we'd suggest choosing your colour combinations wisely. The first model we sat in had a mix of light beige shades and partial leather trim and didn't feel anything like an executive car costing €40k+. A second example in dark trim and full leather was much better.
Inevitably the Grandland X will be compared against its closest rival, the Peugeot 3008, with which it shares much of its underpinnings. The Ultimate's direct opposite is the GT model costing €44,995, giving the Opel the advantage on the price front.
However, while the Peugeot has a 6spd auto gearbox compared to the new 8spd in the Opel, it does come with Grip Control, the technology that provides maximum traction in slippy conditions. Opel's equivalent system, IntelliGrip, isn't available on 19in rims, so you have to down-spec to 18in wheels to order, which kind of defeats the point of ordering the Ultimate model in the first place.
So is this new trim worth the extra money? Possibly, if more than one of the additions listed above are on your must-have list. Optional extras can quickly add thousands to the price of a car.
That new engine and 8spd auto are also worth serious consideration, but here's a caveat. Opel is replacing the 1.6 diesel with a 1.5 litre with the same power in the next quarter. And it will be offered with the 8spd auto. As will the 1.2-litre petrol engine in the summer. Watch out too for a new 1.6 litre/180PS petrol this summer - that just might be the powerplant of choice for the Grandland X. Alternatively, wait for a PHEV model in 2019.
EDDIE CUNNINGHAM writes: A new 'hot' Opel Corsa GSi has been revealed (see above) and is due here in September. The 3dr will have optional Recaro performance seats and 18in alloys. It will be underpinned by the sport chassis known from the OPC version. We're promised price and spec nearer the day.