Friday 22 June 2018

Grandland X: comparisons don't always work out

Latest Opel has ups and downs

Opel Grandland
Opel Grandland
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Hanging on the wall in front of me as I write this are the following sentiments: that you/I/we should "go placidly among the noise and the haste" of this world. Yes, it is the famous 'Desiderata' which never fail to quench, in some measure, the trials, tribulations and fears of the every day.

If you are familiar with the thrust of the words, you'll know they also advise us not to compare with others because always "there will be greater and lesser".

Well that sure puts me in a bind with this week's car because of all the models I've reviewed of late, it simply has to be posited against a specific other in some shape or fashion.

So I'll speak the truth "quietly and clearly" (as the 'Desiderata' asks) hoping you briefly will listen "even to the dull".

You see, I've been driving the Opel Grandland X. Yes it's another compact SUV. But it happens also to be based on the award-winning Peugeot 3008 SUV platform - so some comparisons are inevitable. The Peugeot is good; brilliant in some areas. And that really puts it up to the Opel.

So let me be clear. The Peugeot interior, including dash, instrument display, graphics, interactivity, etc, is much better than virtually anything on the market in its price range.

Therefore the Grandland X's dash, cabin, etc are not going to beat it.

That's part of the "greater and lesser" you get when you compare.

The Opel also starts from a higher, €27,995, price. The Peugeot started from €25,995 but Opel claim theirs has markedly higher spec.

And this is where I hold up my hand because the danger with too many comparisons is you get tied up in knots and lose perspective.

So say you didn't know about the 3008SUV (you should); or you just don't like Peugeots. Or say you're not into graphics and smart stuff to the same extent as others. Say you've got an Opel you want to trade in and reckon a like-brand-for-like-brand arrangement will get you a better deal? Where does the Grandland X stand on that reckoning?

Maybe it would be fairer to posit it against the average pros and cons of the expanding compact SUV models now on our roads rather than go head-to-head into nitty-gritty land.

The Grandland X is the largest SUV Opel has on the market. It was developed in conjunction with, but in advance of, the company becoming part of the PSA (Peugeot/Citroën) group. Hence the 3008 SUV connection.

It isn't mad tall or muscular or mega striking visually (like the Toyota C-HR) but is, nonetheless, above average on looks and profile. Some rivals' looks have faded quickly enough by the way.

The cabin, meantime, reflects the company's crisp design and occupant focus in the likes of the new Insignia. I think they were right to take their own inside-and-out cues; what's the point of being a copycat?

There was decent room in the cabin - at 4.477m long, 1.856m wide, 1.609m tall, it's a handy urban driver and the 514-litre boot (1,652 litre with the rear seats folded) is shaped in such a way you get to use most of it. Plenty of space for the golf clubs and the shopping. It's just a tad off the 3008 SUV capacity, is similar to the SEAT Ateca and ahead of the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar. Ooops! There I am comparing again - it's impossible not to, really.

Even though it's got a high shoulder line - there's a lot of metal - visibility was good and there was an excellent driving position. The side-on 'floating roof' look takes some cues, to my eyes anyway, from the Range Rover Evoque - that is praise indeed - but the front and back designs are neat and tidy without necessarily having a wow factor.

My test car shone brightly in one area, though. On the better-surfaced roads, with the excellent 1.6-litre engine well limbered up (a little noisy at start-up), it swept us silently across the face of the country a couple of times with such ease and silence, all aboard mentioned how impressed they were. We certainly didn't feel the kilometres slipping by - that's what you want in a car. Really impressive. It doesn't happen that often, so it's worth highlighting; some SUVs can be quite ploddy.

I can't, however, praise the Opel so much over poorer sections of roads; I'd have liked better damping to roll away the juts and the jars.

Overall, and on its own, the Crossland X is a good package. It ticked a good few boxes, impressed in some areas, didn't in others. My version had a lot of high-end stuff, too - people are buying more expensive versions.

But maybe because my comparisons are odious or there are just too many of similar ilk, the Grandland X struck me as a case of "going placidly", rather than blazing a trail.

FACTS & FIGURES

Opel Grandland X compact SUV, 1.6-litre diesel, 120PS, €190 road tax, 104g/km.

Standard spec includes: OnStar (Wi-Fi, emergency crash response, etc), Radio 4.0 IntelliLink 7ins t/screen, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic lighting control.

SRi (tested) includes: Navi 5.0 IntelliLink, satnav, 8ins t/screen, USB, 18ins alloys, auto wipers, front fogs, electric tailgate, flex floor, speed sign detection, LED DRLs, parking distance sensors. Extras include: panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, LED adaptive lighting pack.

Price from €27,995 (petrol), €28,995 (diesel). SRi on test, with options, €34,180.

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