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Vauxhall Grandland Plug-In HYBRID-e Review

Introduction

Vauxhall’s new Grandland follows in the footsteps of other new Vauxhalls in overhauling its looks as it aims to increase its market share.

But it is not just about aesthetics – a plug-in hybrid has been added, which Vauxhall hopes will give it an extra edge.

Select's rating score* - 3.2 / 5

At A Glance

Last year, the overhaul also saw it drop the 'X' from its name, and it joins the new Mokka and the impressive new Astra in gaining the 'vizor’. This is a fresh design language that we will expect to see on more Vauxhalls over the coming years.

In that respect, then, if you are already familiar with the Mokka, the Grandland will look right at home.


At the front, the ‘vizor’ lends itself more towards aggressive lines rather than the rounded look previously suggested by the old front grille. These lines help create the shape, which looks a bit busy. 

But it leaves room for a lower grille, a different coloured strip of bodywork underneath it, and two aggressive air intakes at the sides. The lights blend seamlessly into each end of the vizor.

Around the sides, the bodywork angles upwards towards the back, so the rear windows appear thinner than the front. A hefty indentation towards the bottom of the door hints at sporty credentials, while the meaty side skirt accentuates its off-roading capabilities. 


The shape of the bodywork against the rear window portrays an aggressive style at the back, helped by the roof spoiler, which overhangs the rear window.

The back is far more minimalist and flatter in design, with lots of blank space and bits of silver trim that create two thin slit-like exhaust exits. Meanwhile, the rear lights sit at either side, pointing towards the middle of the boot.

It is a bolder, more statement-like design from Vauxhall, whose old Grandland had a reputation for looking clumsy. This one seems like it means business.

Inevitably, the list price of the HYBRID-e is significantly higher – around 30 per cent more, in fact. However, running costs will be massively reduced thanks to the low emissions and low fuel consumption.

Key Features

The Grandland range offers a trio of trims – Design, GS Line and Ultimate – although the HYBRID-e is only available in the top two grades.

The GS Line gets you rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, an electric parking brake, dual-zone climate control and automatic lights. There is also an improved infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen and Satnav, adaptive cruise control, a 180-degree camera, and a black roof with gloss black roof rails. 

What is more, you get sports seats, a 12-inch digital instrument display and aluminium pedals, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels.


If you choose the top-of-the-line Ultimate trim, you will get IntelliLux LED headlights with adaptive forward lighting, advanced park assist, dark-tinted rear windows, a 360-degree panoramic camera and 19-inch alloys.

If you are considering a non-hybrid model, then the entry-level Design trim becomes available. As a result, it is worth noting that the GS Line and Ultimate grades are slightly different, despite carrying the same names.

It is the GS Line we are interested in. You get a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine connected to an electric motor, which produces a combined 225PS.


An eight-speed automatic transmission is included, but the Vauxhall is only front-wheel-drive. This set up is disappointing, especially as it uses same platform as Peugeot's 3008 and the DS7 Crossback E-Tense. Both of these alternative models offer all-wheel-drive.

Vauxhall previously offered a four-wheel-drive version of the Grandland X, known as the Hybrid4, but it has been discontinued. Unfortunately, we are in the dark as to why that decision was made.

Range & Batteries

The Vauxhall Grandland features a modest but capable 13.2kWh battery, which provides an all-electric range of up to 39 miles. Want to know more about how that translated? We've got a guide running you through what kWh and kW really mean.

Of course, this range depends on you ensuring that it is topped up with electrons regularly, while you can expect to get less than this in the real world in practice.


Nevertheless, it means that if you primarily make short, low-speed journeys, you could effectively use the car as an all-electric vehicle. Still, you could feel uncomfortable that you are paying quite a bit of money each month for a reasonably decent engine that never gets used.

We suspect that, even if you can maximise the all-electric capabilities, it will get tiresome having to keep topping up such a small battery. And it is a somewhat pointless exercise given the number of electric cars available on the British automotive market today.

Performance & Drive

If you run the Grandland on all-electric power, it will get up to 84mph before the petrol engine forces itself upon you.

Nevertheless, performance figures are only supplied with the engine and the electric motor combined, which results in 225PS, a nought to 62mph time of 8.9-seconds and an impressively high maximum speed of 140mph.

It is no surprise that initial acceleration off the line is impressive, and there is plenty of torque to get you up to speed quickly. It is not ferocious, but the power does pack a punch if you are not expecting it, while it makes light work of overtaking on motorways.


Driving about in all-electric mode is nice, too – it will manage, as we said, nearly 40 miles without the engine, according to Vauxhall.

When the petrol engine is called into life, the transition from all-electric to hybrid mode is seamless, and you will barely detect it cutting in. Nevertheless, when it does so, the combustion unit remains quiet, and you will only really notice it if you floor the accelerator, where it responds pleasingly.

The gearbox is well refined, and the eight speeds available to it don't seem to give it 'too much choice', as is the case in some cars.

The steering is light, although it feels a tad sluggish and doesn't provide you with any real feedback. This makes for a disappointing driving experience when the road gets a bit twistier. There is plenty of grip, so it is not anonymous on back roads. 

But the car tends to make a bit of a meal of quick turns and sudden changes in direction from the steering wheel. So, rural country lanes and bendy B-roads are not its strong suit.


It feels reasonably well planted in terms of ride comfort, but push it to its limits, and the body roll becomes very noticeable. Also, the Vauxhall isn't the best at smoothing out lumps and bumps in the road, as the suspension is on the firm side, not helped by the additional weight of the electric motor and its batteries.

Still, it is perfectly acceptable on straighter roads when you are keeping it within its comfort zone outside of snaking backroads.

Really, though, it is in urban areas, such as around town centres, where the Grandland is most at home. The HYBRID-e’s electric motor is well suited to driving on its own. And even without the engine, the performance is acceptable enough to drive it on all-electric power.

While you will need to keep charging it up to make the most of it, this is where the Grandland really excels. And if you are disciplined about keeping the battery topped up, then the cost savings could be significant.

Charging

The Vauxhall can charge itself via a 3.7kW onboard charger, although this can be upgraded to 6.6kW, which is available as an optional extra.

A 7.4kW home wall box will charge it up from 0 to 100 per cent in around one-and-three-quarter hours. If you live in an area without on-drive charging available, we've built a guide on the solution to not being able to charge at home.

No high-speed charging is available, so it is just as well the battery is small.


Running Costs & Emissions

The Grandland HYBRID-e should be far cheaper to run compared with a standard petrol or diesel vehicle.

Claiming fuel economy figures as high as 192mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 31g/km, it significantly outperforms non-hybrids. Although getting anywhere near these figures is dependent on you keeping its batteries topped up with electricity.

Company car tax owners will be happy, too, as it attracts only a 12 per cent rate (the equivalent Grandland petrol is 32 per cent, incidentally), while its low emissions figures mean that road tax will be lower too.


Servicing is every year or 16,000 miles, whichever comes first. And you can expect to pay a few hundred pounds for maintenance, depending on what needs doing.

Vauxhall only has average levels of reliability. But given we are in reasonably unchartered territory with this new hybrid version, it is hard to say how dependable it will be.

The good news is that the Grandland shares quite a few parts with the Peugeot 3008, which has proved to be very reliable, so that is a good sign.

Interior & Technology

The Grandland’s redesign is not limited to the exterior. The Vauxhall's interior has been given a robust overhaul, and it is all the better for it, too.

While the Vauxhall lacks the outright luxury of German premium brands, it nevertheless makes up for many of its previous shortcomings with a clean design that adds a lot of sophistication.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel, for starters, adds character. Meanwhile, the infotainment screen and the digital driver’s display in our GS Line model (known as the Pure Panel) sit next to each other in one large unit behind the steering wheel.


The system is sound, although it is not class leading. And we had rather Vauxhall had spent a bit more money buying a higher resolution screen and a faster processor for it. Why? Well, it does tend to lag a bit. The digital dashboard is similarly frustrating and isn't wildly customisable, which feels like a missed opportunity. All that said, it is not a flawed system.

Satnav is included, while you will also get voice control, USB, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Meanwhile, downloading a smartphone app will enable you to monitor the progress of the car’s charging as well as pre-heating the cabin on a cold winter’s morning (or cool it down on a rare hot day), which is a nice touch.

What is more, Vauxhall has resisted the temptation to bury the climate controls into the screen. Thankfully, physical buttons remain for this underneath the infotainment system, making it far easier to operate on the move.

Overall, the interior feels well built, although you will still find some cheaper, scratchy plastics here and there. And a lack of silver means a simple opportunity to brighten things up considerably has been missed.

Practicality & Boot Space

The front seats feel very comfortable, and there is plenty of space up front to move about. Finding a comfy driving position is a cinch, too, as there is a decent amount of travel in the seats and steering wheel.

Of course, you get a high-up driving position, too.

There is also a generous amount of space in the back, although three adults might find themselves a little cramped on longer journeys. But it is much better than a hatchback or family saloon. Indeed, for two adults and two or three kids, there will be no problem. However, frustratingly, if you need more space, there is no seven-seater option.


There is also plenty of storage space inside the Grandland for all your belongings, no matter how big or small. You get large door bins, an area behind the gear lever to put your phone, and a couple of cupholders in the front, as well as a generously sized central cubby.

The batteries compromise the boot space, reducing it from 514-litres in the petrol and diesel versions to 390-litres in the HYBRID-e. You also lose about 130 litres when the rear seats are folded down in the hybrid compared with its fossil-fuelled counterparts. But you will still end up with 1,528-litres of available space, and, in fairness, 390-litres should be more than enough for most people's everyday needs.


Safety

The Vauxhall Grandland was last tested back in 2017. And, despite heavy revisions since then, it seems the rating is still just as valid for the new versions today, including the HYBRID-e.

It earned a five-star rating, scoring 84 per cent for adult occupants and 87 per cent for children but only 60 per cent for safety assists. However, more safety gadgets have been added over the last few years, which should bring that rating up if it were to be re-tested today.

You will be getting forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and a driver alert monitoring system as part of Vauxhall's safety pack, which is standard on all models.

The Grandland is also fitted with traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, speed limit recognition and a tyre pressure monitor.


Options

The Grandland HYBRID-e comes in solid white. But if you want metallic colours, such as quartz grey or black, it is an extra few hundred pounds. Meanwhile, the other two metallic shades, ruby red or cobalt blue, will set you back even more.

An optional 6.6kW onboard charger will have you reaching fairly deeply into your pockets – this charger replaces the standard 3.7kW one. Finally, a load-restraining net for the boot costs peanuts.

But that is literally it. Vauxhall offers nothing else. Mind you, when you look at the standard specification of the Grandland HYBRID-e in GS Line trim, it is very well equipped. So, it seems you are getting quite a lot for your money.


Rival Cars

The Vauxhall Grandland uses the same platform as Peugeot's 3008, the Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid, and the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE. Therefore, these vehicles are also worth a look at.

The Kia Niro, Skoda Karoq, Ford Kuga, MINI Countryman and the BMW X1 are also all available as plug-in hybrids and are well worth considering.

If you are surprised to see a BMW mentioned in this list, it probably won’t alarm you to learn that the X1 hybrid is more expensive than the Vauxhall.


Verdict & Next Steps

Overall, the Vauxhall Grandland is a solid contender, and the HYBRID-e variant only makes it more attractive.

Despite the batteries eating into the boot space, it remains a very practical, well-equipped and attractive SUV, with the running costs of a tiny hatchback.

The interior is a significant improvement, and although it is not class-leading, it has a lot to offer.

We think an all-electric version would make even more sense. Why? Well, for the Grandland to maximise its potential, you need to keep it charged up, which could be inconvenient given its all-electric range is limited.

The lack of a four-wheel-drive version is also frustrating, especially given it is built on the same platform as the Peugeot 3008 and DS 7 Crossback. These models both offer an all-wheel-drive variant.

The problem is whether you can justify the hybrid's higher price and eek back the cash in fuel savings. In that respect, there are likely better leasing alternatives that represent even greater value for money.

Where to next?

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Vauxhall Grandland Plug-In HYBRID-e

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