Tony Rowen test drives the Vauxhall GrandlandX Sport Nav
A NEW year heralds new opportunities and presents new challenges, and this is in evidence at York Ward and Rowlatt in Wellingborough with the arrival of the Vauxhall GrandlandX - the manufacturer's new SUV model - which is predicted to become Vauxhall's second biggest seller behind the Corsa, but ahead of the well-established Astra and Insignia.
There has been early encouragement for the dealership with the news that sales of SUV models increased by 6.6 per cent in January meaning these vehicles accounted for 20.2 per cent of all new car registrations in the first month of 2018. It was the only segment to see growth.
This fillip certainly lifts the winter blues that have been fuelled by some depressing recent reports for the industry including new car registrations falling by 6.3 per cent in the first month of 2018 compared with the 2017 figure, the poor state of roads, and major road works and congestion contributing to drivers wasting an average of 31 hours a year stuck in traffic.
But it is certainly not all doom and gloom for York Ward and Rowlatt's long-serving General Manager Nick Hughes, who has welcomed the early new year boost for his team with the arrival of the GrandlandX into the showroom and who has been eager to show off the model to potential customers.
There are five models in the GrandlandX line-up with the Sport Nav being provided for my test drive. It was with some anxiety that I peeped through the bedroom curtains on the morning I was due to collect the car as snow had been forecast the previous night, but all was well as there wasn't even a frost.
My GrandlandX Sport Nav model was powered by a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with a six-speed manual gearbox and came with a fixed panoramic glass sunroof and a winter pack incorporating heated front seats and a heated steering wheel - a very welcome feature as, although there was no snow or frost, it was bitterly cold.
The GrandlandX has elegant lines, muscular curves and an athletic stance with 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. It has keyless entry and start. This is the first model produced following a deal to develop SUVs agreed prior to PSA's takeover of Opel/Vauxhall last year. The technology for the GrandlandX has been borrowed from the Peugeot 3008 and joins the other Vauxhall SUVs - the Mokka and CrosslandX - in the crossover market.
Although small capacity, the turbo-charged 1.2-litre petrol engine produces a respectable 130bhp and has plenty of zip and slips smoothly through the gears to provide a comfortable ride. It has a top speed of 117mph and accelerates from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds.
A good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment along with well-aligned pedals provide the driver with an ideal position and good forward vision while side blind spot alert and lane assist are helpful aids. The steering is light and responsive.
Internally, the dashboard, which has soft-touch plastics together with gloss black and chrome-effect trim pieces, is logically laid out with controls grouped together by theme in three tiers. There is a separate climate control button which is easy to operate. There is good all-round head and legroom with the back seats slightly higher than the front to provide good forward visibility and a middle back seat passenger benefiting from ample foot space thanks to the flat floor.
Infotainment features on the Sport Nav model include a fully integrated European sat nav system displayed on an eight-inch colour touch screen and every GrandlandX has Vauxhall's OnStar concierge service which includes online connectivity, a wi-fi hotspot and a connection to a dedicated call centre.
Boot capacity, at 514 litres, is more than adequate and practical with no awkward intrusions and can be increased to 1,652 litres by the 60-40 rear seat split. Access to the boot area is via a powered tailgate and flat loading tip and can also be operated with a simple swipe of the foot underneath the rear bumper.
Fuel economy on my test drive model is a competitive 55.4mpg on the combined cycle according to official government figures and CO2 emissions are 117 gkm and a 22 per cent benefit-in-kind, while all GrandlandX models have a three-year or 60,000 miles warranty and a year's worth of roadside assistance. It has been awarded a 5-star safety rating by the Euro NCAO crash safety agency.
The on-the-road price of the test drive model is £24,595.
Although the road ahead for the motor industry may be hazardous for various reasons, the Vauxhall GrandlandX is a welcome addition to the competitive crossover market and the early evidence is that it is expected to make a real impact. This is borne out by the initial response experienced by the sales team at York Ward and Rowlatt with orders already placed and plenty of interest created in the model following a two-day promotional event at the Rushden Lakes Shopping Centre at the end of January.
For further information on the complete GrandlandX range or to arrange a test drive, contact York Ward and Rowlatt, St John's Street, Wellingborough, NN8 4LG. Telephone 01933 443403, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.yorkwardrowlatt.co.uk