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In-depth reviews

Vauxhall Grandland review - Engines, performance and drive

The Vauxhall Grandland feels safe and secure to drive, rather than particularly fun

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.7 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

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We previously criticised the Vauxhall Grandland for having a fairly stiff ride, but for 2023 Vauxhall's engineers have tweaked the suspension settings to increase the damping force over large bumps, and soften the response over harsher lumps. The adjustments seem to have paid off, because the suspension set-up now feels a little softer than those in rival mid-size SUVs.

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When combined with the modestly sized wheels of our test car, the Grandland now offers a fairly soothing ride, which doesn’t crash harshly into potholes or speed bumps. Meanwhile the light steering and fairly tight turning circle mean that driving around town in the Grandland is no bother.

Hit the motorway and road and wind noise are fairly well suppressed, and that soft ride continues to contribute to the relaxing feel. But on a twisty road, the Grandland rolls a little bit around the turns, and heavy braking causes quite a lot of dive.

Ultimately, you’d be hard-pushed to call the Vauxhall Grandland fun to drive. Instead, it’s safe and predictable, so if you want a more dynamic family SUV, you’ll be better served by the Mazda CX-5 or SEAT/Cupra Ateca.

In an effort to control the added bulk (up to 300kg) of the battery pack and electric motor in the plug-in hybrid Grandland, Vauxhall has fitted a set of firmer springs and dampers. However, we found this only hurt the car’s ride quality when we tested the Grandland PHEV in 2022 and caused it feel unsettled, even on smooth roads. 

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The sportier Grandland GSe goes even further, with a reworked chassis, firmer springs and a new set of dampers, which are designed to strike a better balance between comfort and body control. Ultimately however, the fastest Grandland's tall body and 1,867kg kerbweight dilute any sense of agility on winding roads. 

The turbo petrol powerplant might not be the most efficient, but it still works well in town, offers adequate performance for a family car and is quiet when cruising. Those covering big annual mileages should probably look to the capable diesel engine, although every version offers reasonable performance and low running costs. Vauxhall isn’t famed for its tight manual gearboxes, and the Grandland does nothing to counter that notion, given that the long throw doesn’t make for a particularly satisfying shift. 

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The plug-in hybrid versions’ electric motors and extra torque make building up speed easy and the car feel more refined, while driving at a more relaxed pace also allows for smoother gearchanges from the eight-speed automatic transmission.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The Vauxhall Grandland’s engine range is surprisingly small, with a single petrol or diesel unit on offer, as well as two greener (and much more powerful) plug-in hybrids.

The petrol engine, also used by Citroen and Peugeot, is a punchy and refined, 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo with 128bhp and 230Nm of torque. It’ll propel the Grandland from 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds in six-speed manual form, while the auto is 0.1 seconds quicker. Meanwhile, the 1.5-litre diesel produces 128bhp and 300Nm of torque, will do 0-60mph in 12.3 seconds and tops out at 119mph, feeling stronger in-gear than the petrol motor.

Opting for the plug-in hybrid models brings a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which is paired with a single electric motor in the regular Grandland Plug-in Hybrid. This combination delivers 222bhp and 360Nm, an 8.6-second 0-60mph time and a top speed of 140mph – or 84mph in EV mode.

The plug-in Grandland GSe adds another electric motor on the rear axle for all-wheel drive, as well as boosting the power output up to 296bhp and 520Nm, slashing the benchmark sprint time to 6.1 seconds. The top speed also jumps to 146mph.

The hybrid models are the priciest, so for those on a tighter budget, the choice may come down to whether you want a petrol or a diesel car. Both of these engines are strong and relatively efficient, though, and both should be more than powerful enough for everyday needs.

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