Performance: The Opel Grandland may be flawless – but then again there is nothing startlingly special about it either.
As a motoring journalist, I rarely come across a car that has major flaws. Shortcomings usually extend to areas such as fuel consumption, road noise or build quality — hardly deal-breakers. This brings me to the Opel Grandland, and it’s the first car in which I couldn’t point out any major issues. But, with that being said, it doesn’t excel in any department either.
I would go so far as to say that the Opel Grandland is the most perfectly average car. This means that it does almost everything well, but there isn’t a particular point where this car raises the bar either.
It immediately impressed me with how quiet the driving experience was. There was little to no road noise, and the engine quietly purrs away in the background almost unnoticeably, making it rather pleasant for road trips. The ride quality is comfortable but maintains an element of rigidity in harder cornering scenarios. Ground clearance is another point that didn’t raise any concern, because the Grandland provides enough clearance to remove the day-to-day stress of speed bumps and the occasional gravel road. As far as the often overlooked factor of slow-speed manoeuvring goes, the tight turning circle on the Grandland made navigating parking lots a breeze.
From a performance point of view, the Grandland comes with Opel’s 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, producing a healthy 121kW and 240Nm bolted to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It has ample power for highway overtaking and slightly more spirited driving, although it does take a second or two to lay the power down. When loaded with five passengers and extra cargo, the car can feel a tad sluggish; the engine could benefit from a bit more torque.
As for fuel consumption, Opel claims 7.0l/100km. Away from laboratory tests and in the streets of Johannesburg, we got it down to a still-respectable 7.2l/100km. This is not bad for an SUV of this size, especially since the Grandland is the biggest offering in Opel’s fleet.
The cabin area of the Grandland is where it loses a few points in my book. Despite having a rather large and easy-to-use infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, I found that the interior is rather vanilla too. The black plastic cladding mixed with the tall seating position won’t wow your passengers like an S-class would, obviously, but it does retain a pleasant enough atmosphere. Being a big fan of ambient lighting, I was glad to see the cabin gain character as the sun set. But, with only one strip on the dash and on the front doors, I feel like Opel could have incorporated more of these modern and futuristic styling details.
What I have come to enjoy about recent Opel models is that their cabins are quite driver-oriented. The 10-inch infotainment screen is angled slightly towards the driver to aid in a clear and easy information display, making the driver feel more engaged and informed. The 12” information cluster is large and user-friendly, but the graphics — just white gauges on a black background — could have been better. Selecting Eco or Sports mode, the top line changes to green or red, depending on your choice, and that’s about the depth of that feature.
The Grandland Ultimate, which is the range-topping spec, comes in at a competitive price of R720 900. This buys you leather seats, a larger screen, and diamond-cut 18” alloys. Since it’s in such a competitive segment, buyers are spoilt for choice, with the likes of the VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and even the Proton X70 competing for local market share.
The Grandland comes with a five-year/100 000km warranty and service plan. Opel will also throw in a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty for those coastal dwellers out there.
The Opel Grandland is a well-rounded SUV. It offers a commendable driving experience with minimal road noise and sufficient power. It also looks rather sharp and can cope with most demands, all the while slowly sipping fuel.
The interior is comfortable but lacks elements of depth in the design, and I feel like a little colour could liven up the cabin experience. Although it is a touch on the pricey side in its segment, you do get a lot of car for the price. It’s only noticeable shortcoming is the limited legroom in the back. Needless to say, the Grandland is a good option for school runs, road trips, and occasional gravel road excursions.