VAUXHALL is hoping it will have the X factor in the SUV market with the launch of its latest model - the muscular and athletically-styled Grandland X.
It completes the company's trio of SUV cars joining the Mokka X and recently launched Crossland X, but the Grandland X - as its name suggests - is the big daddy of the line-up.
At almost 4.5 metres in length, it boasts a robust, upright design with flowing body lines, signature double blade LED lights, chunky wheel mouldings, a central crease in the bonnet, smart alloys and a large grille.
A contrasting black-coloured roof can be selected as a £320 option.
The interior is equally impressive in its design and layout with room for five adults and a boot storage capacity of 514 litres increased to 1,652 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
The Grandland X is only available in two-wheel drive and prices range from £22,310 to £28,035 (an automatic gearbox adds £1,500 to these costs).
There are four trim levels to choose from called SE, Tech Line Nav, Sport Nav and Elite Nav, and all are generously equipped with either a seven or eight-inch colour touchscreen, a sat nav system with European mapping, Bluetooth connectivity, dual zone climate control, ambient lighting and lots more besides.
Upper trim levels add features such as an eight-speaker Denon premium sound system, wireless charging and a powered tailgate with kick-gesture or key fob opening function.
At launch the choice of engines is limited to a 1.2-litre 130ps petrol version or a 1.6-litre 120ps diesel with either six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. But Vauxhall has announced that additional engines will be added to the range.
Safety features, either standard or as options, are comprehensive and include the likes of a forward collision alert system with pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking. There is a driver drowsiness alert system, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and plenty more besides.
The Grandland X also introduces Vauxhall's innovative IntelliGrip traction control system to the range. The optional electronic system ensures optimum road grip in diverse driving situations with different modes to cope with changing conditions. These are Normal, Snow, Mud, Sand and ESP off.
Another feature that has become synonymous with the Vauxhall name over recent years is the OnStar service which connects a driver to a real person at Vauxhall's Luton base who is like your personal assistant and can offer guidance tips about the location along with directions. In addition, they are there to advise if the vehicle is stolen, breaks down or involved in an accident.
We tried out a couple of models on a lengthy road route that incorporated town centre driving, motorways and country lanes.
First up was the Grandland X 1.6-litre 120ps turbo diesel model in range-topping Elite Nav spec.
This car was priced at £28,035 but a few options bumped up the cost to £29,360. It could reach 60mph from a standing start in 11.8 seconds, maxed out at 117mph and, according to official figures, delivers combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg with carbon emissions of 111g/km.
The Grandland X certainly looks the business and the interior has a premium feel to it with a soft-touch dashboard and a neat, clutter-free layout.
The dashboard has a layered effect with the upper section housing the infotainment system, the middle section is for the climate control and the lower section is the driving controls and vehicle set-up functions.
All the controls are perfectly positioned for driver usability and its very easy to get a good driving position thanks to generous seat and steering wheel adjustment. The elevated driving position means good all-round visibility although the rear screen is quite shallow.
Vauxhall has been clever with the finer touches such as a ledge to rest your hand on when using the touchscreen. It can be difficult to programme an address or change a radio station whilst driving and a steady hand makes this process a lot simpler.
The car featured a six-speed manual gearbox which proved both smooth and responsive and the Grandland X easily cruised at motorway speeds. It also showed its agile character with good manoeuvrability as it weaved its way through busy town centres.
We did find the car was a tad bouncy and there was a certain degree of body roll if pushed too enthusiastically into tight bends, but it was noted that the 19-inch wheels might be a little too big for the car and that was reflected in the ride quality.
Another slight gripe is the gear stick. Whilst the chunky grab handle-style gear knob looks smart and is great as you shift up through the gears and back down again, finding reverse means adjusting your hand position completely and it was quite difficult at times.
The second car we drove was also powered by the 1.6-litre 120ps diesel engine with the six-speed manual gearbox. But this version was in Sport Nav and was fitted with 18-inch alloys.
While the sprint and top speed times are identical to the first car, the economy is improved to a combined 70.6mpg and 104g/km.
And the ride quality was better too. It seemed far more energetic and the road-holding seemed more confident and assured. This car was also slightly cheaper costing £25,950.
Both models were great to drive and Vauxhall hopes they will offer opposition to the Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage.
But when it comes to wheel choice we have to ask is bigger better? While the model on 19-inch wheels may have the upper hand because it looks more powerful and dynamic, cars sitting on 18-inch wheels will deliver a far better all-round ride and better economy along the way.