Vauxhall Grandland GSe review: An SUV with super-hatch acceleration

Frederic Manby puts Vauxhall’s newly released Grandland GSe through its paces and finds an SUV with super-hatch acceleration thanks to a petrol turbo engine with two electric motors

Vauxhall’s newly released and quick Grandland GSe is not my sort of SUV. A Grandland per se is OK. The snag in the ointment is the uncomfortable chassis under the GSe, or Grand Sport electric.

The 296 brake horse power 1.6 litre petrol turbo engine has two electric motors – the second motor adding rear wheel drive traction when you select 4WD. The electric motors bang in shed loads of power from tick over. Sit back and steer.

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Boasting a 0-60mph time inside six seconds and that huge torque this is a rapid car, enough to leave the proverbial egg on the face of anyone harrying what they think is a family hack. Like the Audi TT driver who was larking about after cutting us up.

Vauxhall Grandland GSeVauxhall Grandland GSe
Vauxhall Grandland GSe

This recent revision of the previous Grandland X has stiffer springs and dampers. They may help keep the heavy car stable if you are, hypothetically, charging hard through bends. Poor surfaces and ridges and holes and the relentless firm steely ride make it tiring and bring out any lingering aches and pains in the lower body. I call it bum-ache. However, it may be your cup of chai; just give it more than a spin round the block if you value comfort.

The plug in hybrid rechargeable system is familiar from the previous slightly softer Grandland X and from comfortable Peugeot and very comfortable Citroën SUVs in the vast catalogue of Stellantis models. It gives superhatch acceleration and the PHEV 27g CO2 rating adds low taxation for people running it as a company car, with an eight per cent BIK tax.

Regulars in the UK Top Ten sellers are the Nissan Juke and Qashqai, Ford has the best-selling Puma and the fading Fiesta, with Mini, Tesla, Hyundai’s Tucson and Kia’s Sportage in the chart. Vauxhall’s regulars are the Mokka crossover and the Corsa, number two in sales. The Qashqai from Sunderland and the imported Tucson and Kia are SUVs the German Grandland should be matching in sales. It is possible it is overwhelmed by in-house rivals like the handsome Peugeot 3008 and the Citroën C5 Aircross. At heart, the Grandland has never been a Vauxhall but a car made using Peugeot and Citroën components and then engineered to suit the Opel vision. Opel has been its master in one way or another for decades until both were bought by Peugeot’s PSA which was subsequently absorbed into Stellantis, which owns 16 brands with models from as the humble Fiat 500 and the magnificent Maserati Cielo.

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Vauxhall ranks number six in the UK, ahead of its Stellantis kin, behind, in order of sales, Volkswagen, Ford, Audi, Toyota and BMW.

After a too-long journey I was aching, and started scribbling notes. The trip started with a fully charged battery for the PHEV motors and the computer showed well over 100mpg. A PHEV’s battery needs charging to maintain such heady economy, say every 40 miles - making it wallet friendly for short trips, rather less so for touring. Memo: if the battery is flat then the CO2 is. Annoyingly, the prediction of miles left in the tank overtook the actual mileage. Viz, a 95-mile prediction dropped to 25 miles even though the fuel economy improved from 30mpg to 41mpg.

A word in its favour. My pernickety sister liked its looks. Her mood changed when she released the seat belt which reeled in so rapidly that the blade lashed and bruised her bare arm. Sisters, I mumbled silently, only to gash my bare ankle on the bottom corner of the door as I exited the Grandland. Served me right? Cost me an arm and a leg, you could say.

This car costs £45,700 and lacked familiar ingredients. There was one front old style USB point and one 12v socket. Rear passengers get neither a USB nor a 12v socket (though one was said to be in the luggage compartment). For a family cum-business car at any price these days this is skimping. The door pockets are poorly shaped to hold a drinks bottle securely: mine was deposited on the floor when I opened the door. An irritation was the nearside wiper which missed an arc of glass. There was a confusing reading from the continuous bar graph consumption monitor, showing less than 10mpg. The voice control was poor at times, offering me categories I hadn’t requested. Unlike my convent-educated sibling I do not need elocution lessons.

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The cupboard is not entirety empty. There is an elasticated phone charger in the box between the seats; two map pockets for rear companions who also get a centre armrest with cup pods. The back seats fold to make a flat deck because the boot floor is high: total luggage space is reduced by the hybrid installation over the back axle.

There is plenty of eye-detail including a variety of silver and gloss finishes, a smattering of cheaper covering, leather-look and suedette seating, refined soft door closures, old-style but welcome controls for the ventilation. The unfashionably small touchscreen doubles up for information and systems. Navigation was good at all times but lacked info about jams.

The outside is headlined by the brand’s so-called vizor face, a demure thing compared with the ebullient fronts applied to Peugeots. Painted black over white, the GSe makes its own statement. The Grandland not a familiar sight on my travels, nor is the smaller Crossland. These and their Opel kin were developed under PSA guidance using PSA components and based on PSA models.

Verdict: Fast but firm.

Vauxhall Grandland GSe: £45,700 (£46,200 as tested with 7.4kW charger): 1.6-litre turbo petrol with two electric motors: 296bhp; Torque, petrol 265 lb ft, electric 358lb ft; Transmission, eight-speed automatic; Top speed 146mph; 0-62mph – 6.1 seconds; Economy, rated at 235mpg fully charged; Electric range, rated at 41mpg; Tank, 9.5 gallons; CO 2 emissions, 27g/km on a full battery; Length, 176 inches; Braked towing limit, 1250kg;