Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 review
|Car type||Electric range||CO2 emissions||Fuel economy|
|Plug-in hybrid||35 miles||TBC||204mpg|
Vauxhall is on the cusp of launching its first fully electric car – the Corsa-e hatchback – but before that landmark moment there’s the small matter of its maiden plug-in hybrid to contend with: the Grandland X Hybrid4.
The company’s largest SUV is based on the same underpinnings as the Citroen C5 Aircross, Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 and DS 7 Crossback E-Tense, while it can count the MINI Countryman, Kia Niro and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV among its non-PSA rivals. The Ford Kuga and BMW X1 xDrive25e are due in 2020 too, making this an increasingly crowded segment.
It’s a shame, then, that the Grandland X lacks a standout feature to distinguish it from the pack. Yes, the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and dual electric motors deliver a hefty 296bhp, and the resulting 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds is pleasingly daft for a family SUV. But this combination is typical of most premium plug-in hybrids these days, and not unique to the Vauxhall.
The prospect of 204mpg also looks promising on paper, but as is the case with any PHEV, this is a laboratory figure that assumes you’ll start each journey with a full battery. On our test run on a mix of motorways and country roads in Germany, we averaged around 45mpg: not bad for a car of this size, but short of what we’ve seen from some full hybrids that (in theory) should be less efficient.
The battery in question is a 13.2kWh unit formed of 96 cells, located under the boot floor. This means luggage capacity with the rear seats up falls from 514 litres in non-hybrid versions of the Grandland X to 390 litres in the Hybrid4. With the seats down there’s a 1,528-litre load space on offer.
Meanwhile, a Type 2 charging cable is provided as standard, however the Hybrid4 will only charge at a maximum rate of 3.7kW unless you spend £500 upgrading the on-board charger to its full 7.4kW potential. This will see the battery topped up from flat in one hour and 45 minutes: make do without the upgrade and the fastest top-up will take three-and-a-half hours. Charge up at home on a normal electricity tariff and you’re looking at a top-up cost of less than £2. Indeed, Vauxhall reckons owners who do this regularly could save hundreds of pounds in fuel costs over the course of a year.
But this only works out if you take the claimed 35 miles of electric-only, zero-emissions range at face value, and our test car estimated a maximum of just 18.6 miles on a full charge. Granted, the chilly weather didn’t help (batteries are much less efficient in lower temperatures), but an indicated 10 degrees Celsius on the dashboard suggested UK owners will see even worse figures on the coldest winter days.
That said, our electric running – limited though it was – was very encouraging. Defaulting to electric mode from start-up, the car’s 111bhp rear-axle-mounted electric motor does all the work up to speeds of 50mph, with the 108bhp front-mounted motor chipping in thereafter. Vauxhall doesn’t give electric-only acceleration figures, but from behind the wheel the throttle response felt sprightly. In fact, the car will hit 84mph without any help from the engine.
The Grandland X is very quiet at all speeds, and happily it remains so when the engine kicks into life. In hybrid mode – where the car works out the most efficient mix of electric and petrol power – you’ll hardly notice the transition between the two powertrains, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is exceedingly smooth.
All-wheel-drive is available on demand, and it’s to the car’s credit that there’s some fun to be had on a fast road when Sport mode is engaged, too. The steering is fairly lifeless and the suspension doesn’t like fast changes of direction, but it’ll tuck into a steady turn nicely and without too much body lean. The firm suspension doesn’t come at the cost of harsh ride comfort either, making this a versatile SUV.
If you were making a case for the Hybrid4, the other redeeming feature you’d point to is the generous kit list: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as standard, as is an eight-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, smart cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, plus a suite of driver safety aids.
Downloading the MyVauxhall smartphone app will allow you to monitor charging remotely, as well as pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin before a journey. Well-equipped thought it may be, however, the entry-level car costs £36,790, and even this is aimed at business buyers with the low P11D value designed to drive down Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rates.
Private buyers will be ushered towards the identical SRi Nav trim, which gets away with being almost £5,000 more expensive thanks to the finance deals on offer. Stump up an £8,379 deposit or part-ex and you’ll have monthly repayments of £399 over a 47-month contract. Elite Nav – the next level up – costs £43,400 and adds a heated steering wheel, windscreen and front seats, as well as a panoramic glass roof. The top-spec Ultimate Nav trim tested here is priced at a breathtaking £46,650, and while it introduces LED headlights, ventilated front seats and an improved audio system, it still makes do with analogue dials in the instrument cluster. The interior as a whole – while well-made and functional – is entirely forgettable.
The Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 hits UK showrooms in February, but we’d wait for front-wheel-drive model that’s set to follow in the second quarter of 2020. With prices from £32,390 it’s much cheaper, offer almost as much electric range, and only those who encounter genuinely sketchy terrain will miss the extra traction afforded by the Hybrid4’s all-wheel drive mode.