X marks the spot for Opel
The stylish third member of Opel's 'X' family has arrived
If you need any reminding of the surge in demand for SUVs, simply take a look at the European sales statistics from last year.
Car sales showed a 6.5pc increase compared to 2015, and a quarter of all European passenger vehicle sales were SUVs. In Ireland it was a similar story, Hyundai's compact Tucson SUV was the best selling car of the year, while the market share of crossovers, SUVs and 4x4s continues to grow.
The Grandland X is Opel's stylish but late entrant into the compact SUV parade. With a sporty design and rugged off-road looks, it is aimed at young families and the young at heart. At 4.48m long it is also the largest SUV in Opel's range, with seating for five people, generous luggage space and a host of safety features and technologies.
The new model is the second car to emerge from the PSA and Opel/Vauxhall merger. Despite sharing a platform and many mechanical components with Peugeot's 3008 and Citroen's C5 Aircross, the Grandland X (with the signature, L-shaped LED daytime running lights) is instantly recognisable as an Opel. Robust and rugged, the tough-looking cladding at the front, chrome detailing, muscular wheel arches and roof bars all give the Opel SUV genuine kerb appeal.
The interior is well thought out and the cabin functional but chic, with a clear display and intuitive controls. There is none of the fussiness associated with Opels of the past.
Size and space really matter in this sector and there is plenty of room in the Grandland X. Luggage space is particularly good, with boot space of 514 litres rising to 1,652 litres with the seats folded.
The car's wide range of safety features includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert with pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking and a driver drowsiness-detection system.
Under the bonnet two engine variants will be offered in Ireland, a 1.2 litre 130bhp petrol unit with emissions of 127-117/km, and a diesel engine, 1.6 litres, 120bhp and emissions of 118-104/km. Both are offered with optional seven-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual. Next spring two new diesel engines will be available, as well as an eight speed automatic gearbox.
In a market where comfort takes priority, the Grandland X is well pitched. On the motorway it is smooth and effortless and as a city drive it is light, with a softening suspension. The 1.2 litre petrol is particularly impressive, with good, punchy acceleration and refinement.
Should you stumble on treacherous conditions, the Grip Control system imported from Peugeot is available as an optional extra. The IntelliGrip electronic traction system gives you maximum traction on slippery or muddy conditions so it is a credible alternative to traditional 4WD systems. Arriving here at the end of the month, prices start from €27,995 for the 1.2 litre petrol version, with the 1.6-litre diesel from €28,995.
Three trims are on offer: SC, Sri, Elite. No matter how basic your chosen trim, you don't have to shell-out extra for Opel OnStar, sat nav, LED daytime running lights, front fogs, LED tail lights, lane departure warning and speed sign recognition, intelligent cruise control, hill start assist, and the latest Radio R 4.0 Intellilink, with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The true mark of the Grandland X is that it is stylish, spacious and efficient, so while it might not set the world alight in terms of performance, Opel's latest SUV will certainly turn heads and win favour with families.