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It’s all Grand: Opel hits sweet spot with this updated SUV

1.2-litre petrol version is perfect for nipping around town, and it looks great too


The new Open Grandland has made some big improvements to keep up with other SUVs in its class

The new Open Grandland has made some big improvements to keep up with other SUVs in its class

The new Open Grandland has made some big improvements to keep up with other SUVs in its class

The first job this week’s car did was ferry me not once, not twice but three times to an electrical shop in search of a monitor and special connection for the laptop.

Due to my stupidity in not bringing the right things, we had to go back twice. On the third attempt we got what we wanted. It was the first bit of city driving in the revised Grandland SUV from Opel. And that was sort of apt because the car and my three-journey trial highlight the benefit of just keeping on until you get it right.

Opel have done it with the Grandland – searching for something that would make it a more attractive proposition. They seem to have found it this time. I think the success of a new or revised car can often be defined by a couple of items that make an instant connection.

In the case of the Grandland SUV, it is fair to say that a couple of things have made a big impact. It has had previous changes but it needed something to give it a proper lift this time. So the first thing they did was get the new Opel Vizor brand face on the front. It has given it a lift visually and it catches the eye.

That is vital for it to have any further success because time and again research is finding that looks for a SUV/crossover are paramount.

People want a smart-looking machine first and foremost. Ask owners of Grandland rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008, Volvo XC40 or Kia Sportage to mention a few.

The second big update is inside and it’s called the Pure Panel cockpit central display. This integrates two widescreen displays of up to 10in and 12in. As such it does away with a lot of buttons – and without a doubt adorns the dash with far greater flair than previously.

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But I am glad to say it retains a few important manual functions for the driver. It has come to the point with many cars these days that I almost give up trying to extract a few everyday functions from some digital nightmarish maze.

It’s possible to end up going around in virtual circles and feeling the frustration rise.  

So that’s that then? The Grandland has managed a couple of badly needed touches to stay with the smart set?

Well, there is a bit more, I think. The cabin itself has been greatly modernised. It was rather dull but now feels a lot fresher.

But in many ways the change that makes a lot of difference isn’t a change at all. It is the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine that has been around for a while in the Stellantis stable that also houses Peugeot, Citroen and others.

I was quite taken by it in the Grandland. Maybe it suffered a bit by having to cope with a long throw between the gears but I felt it tuned in well enough with the 6-speed manual gearbox. It had plenty of power (128bhp), and a nicely comfortable climb up the revs.

I have heard it criticised for being a bit throaty but I think that’s off the mark. I think a 3cyl petrol has its own sound and you like it or leave it. I would take it.

Ordinarily I suppose I’d be advocating a look at the diesel but two things are stopping me. One, this petrol is a nice car for around town and it somehow felt a better option. Two, well, diesel isn’t exactly flavour of the month is it?

One thing I would suggest you consider is opting for the 8-speed automatic version. I’m a convert to the old auto because I find myself doing a fair bit of city driving and it just makes life so much easier than flailing away there with the gear stick.

I don’t know where Opel would be if they didn’t get this uplift working across the car because some of the rivals look really well – the 3008 is a bit of a favourite (especially its cabin).

The Grandland is one of those neutral enough cars to drive. It doesn’t have exhilarating pace but was punchy enough mid-range. I’d have liked a little more sympathetic damping to absorb the cruder tranches of road I traversed. I think the Sportage is probably better in that department.

Would I buy it? After all that’s gone before you’d expect I’d jump and say yes. But that would be excluding the variety of choice awaiting my money in the guise of other SUVs. Among them, as you probably know, is the best-selling car in the country – the Hyundai Tucson.

So, despite the improvements, the Grandland is by no means a certain conduit for my money. I would have it near the top of my list because I like the interior and the front.

The remarkable thing about even having it on my list is that they have managed to get it to such a position in the first place. And that is due to sheer application.

Fact file

Opel Grandland crossover, Elite, 1.2, 130hp, 6-speed petrol, €270 tax. Range from €37,395, SRi €40,195, Elite from €41,995.

Standard SC spec includes cruise control, dual zone air con, 7in touchscreen, 17in alloys, auto headlamps, front fogs, parking sensors, rear view camera.

SRI adds AGR driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, 10in t/screen, 12in info cluster, wireless charger, two tone roof, 18in alloys. Elite adds heated seats, leather upholstery, 19in alloys, Night Vision option.

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