Grandland takes a

sporting chance

Vauxhall Grandland X, front action
Vauxhall Grandland X, front static
Vauxhall Grandland X, side action
Vauxhall Grandland X, side static
Vauxhall Grandland X, rear static
Vauxhall Grandland X, rear seats
Vauxhall Grandland X, boot 2
Vauxhall Grandland X, rear seats
Vauxhall Grandland X, front seats
Vauxhall Grandland X, dashboard
Vauxhall Grandland X, boot 1

YEARS before Peugeot bought Vauxhall earlier this year the two companies had been working together behind the scenes - on the car you're now looking at, for one.

Or looking at if you had X-ray eyes. For the new Vauxhall Grandland X appears nothing like Peugeot's recent 3008 but beneath their unalike metalwork is more or less the same car.

Same platform (the really expensive bit to design), same engines and same factory - they're both built in France. Starting from pretty well the same price too; £22,495 Peugeot plays £22,310 Vauxhall.

So why would Vauxhall bother? Well, the SUV market has gone daft for new models in recent years and the Grandland X is predicted to be the company's second biggest seller to private buyers, behind only the Corsa.

With a recent downturn in new car sales only one area is still booming. Yes, you've guessed; it's the medium-sized SUV market where the Grandland X now appears.

As well as taking on the sister-under-the-skin Peugeot 3008 the Grandland X is up against the formidable Nissan Qashqai, the biggest seller by far and confidently expected to stay that way, even by its competitors.

So what strengths does Vauxhall bring to the mid-sized SUV party? Well, it's clear how Vauxhall wants us to view its new baby, with so many uses of the word 'sporty' in the press presentation you soon lost count.

Oh, and the creases on the side let you feel 'speed and acceleration', according to its designer. And the front is upright and proud. Don't you just love designer-speak.

Judge for yourself, of course, but you might agree the end result is a car that looks neat and modern and hides quite nicely its purpose in life, to transport a growing family and their luggage in some comfort and at not too high a price.

Talking prices, the Grandland X starts with Tech Line trim from the already mentioned £22,310, with 1.2 litre 128 bhp petrol engine, moves through SE (£22,485) and Sport Nav (£24,595) to the ultimate version, Elite Nav which starts at £26,660.

Engine choices are currently limited to the 1.2 litre petrol and a 1.6 litre with the same bhp but much more pulling power, as is the way with diesels. Automatic transmissions are optional with either.

Vauxhall thinks most buyers will take the petrol route, where they'll find a willing power unit that takes the Grandland X to 117mph and to 62mph in 11.1 seconds, while returning an official 52.3mpg and 124g/km in the official tests.

Take a dearer diesel and those figures are 117mph and 11.8 seconds - much the same as the petrol model, but with much better promised economy at 70.6mpg average and less pollution too, with 104g/km.

Whichever engine you choose there's quite a bit of car to pull along, measuring 4,477mm long. A benefit is a boot that takes 514 litres with the rear seats in place and a more than useful 1,652 with them folded.

But you must open a door and slip behind the wheel to discover the biggest difference between the Peugeot and Vauxhall approach to family motoring with dashboards that show divergent design philosophies.

Where the Peugeot is an exercise in button denying modernity the Grandland X looks more conventionally smart, with less pressing of fingers on screens and more physical contact with switches.

And all the better for it, I'd say, as you try to adjust the radio to knock the cabin temperature down a degree or two.

Out on the road the Grandland X feels anything but sporty, the petrol engine doing its best and staying quietly in the background but a long way from inspiring you to take the long way home.

Should you encounter slippery roads on the way there's an option of IntelliGrip traction control that does its best to mimic four-wheel drive by managing the power going to the front wheels; there won't be a 4x4 because the customers don't want it, says Vauxhall.

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