Fast and frugal - go


Vauxhall Grandland X, full front actionv
Vauxhall Grandland X, rear action
Vauxhall Grandland X, front static
Vauxhall Grandland X, front action
Vauxhall Grandland X, front action 2
Vauxhall Grandland X, side action
Vauxhall Grandland X, side static
Vauxhall Grandland X, boot
Vauxhall Grandland X, dash detail
Vauxhall Grandland X, dashboard
Vauxhall Grandland X, rear static
Vauxhall Grandland X, charging

THERE are a couple of eye-widening figures attached to the latest model from Vauxhall - it will take you 204 miles to the gallon and costs £46,650.

Both numbers demand some explanation, and quickly, as you contemplate a vehicle that looks neither cutting edge eco nor luxo barge plush.

Instead, we have the Grandland X Hybrid4, a generously proportioned SUV that looks neat enough but clearly doesn't want to frighten the horses with its outrageous lines.

More intriguing is what sits beneath this conventional enough body, in the shape of a turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol engine and two electric motors, jointly producing 297bhp and potent enough for 0-60mph in a very sporty 5.9 seconds.

Those motors will power the Grandland X for up to 35 miles on electricity alone and, because they drive both front and rear axles, give the car the ability to become all-wheel drive at the drop of an electronic prompt.

They also, because of the daft way car makers must test for published figures like economy, give this version of the Grandland X an official economy of 204mpg.

It won't do anything like, of course. A morning of mixed motoring, letting the car decide between petrol or current for power, produced precisely 32mpg on the Grandland's dash display on the official press launch. Someone else in a different car saw 39mpg.

Drive no more than about 30 miles before recharging the car (in 1 hour 45 minutes with the fastest charger available) and you won't use any petrol at all, of course. Head for a distant holiday home without topping up the battery and it will be mostly fossil fuel propelling you, though...

That unobtainable official economy and a CO2 figure of a mere 34g/km make this version of the Grandland X a tempting proposition for company car drivers, with £159 a month BIK rate compared to £301 for a Toyota RAV4 hybrid or a juicy £369 for a Ford Kuga with less power than the Vauxhall.

And most users of the newest version of the Grandland X will be on business. And most of them won't go near the upper end of the price chart, which tops out in BMW, Audi and junior Range Rover territory with the £46,650 Ultimate.

Instead, they'll head for the Business Edition at £36,790 or even wait a month or two for the imminent £32,390 Business Edition with just the front wheels driven, for useful monthly savings.

Sandwiching the extremes of the Hybrid4 range are SRi and Elite versions at £41,500 and £43,400 respectively. They share the same spacious cabin of all Grandland X models, with the hybrid battery robbing a bit of boot space, which shrinks to a still thoroughly useful 390 litres (and a cavernous 1,528 litres with the rear seats folded).

They all also have the same level of interior plushness whose hard plastic surfaces feel more pinned to the cheaper end of the price range, even if everything is neatly and clearly laid out and easy to use.

If your budget runs to the full Ultimate spec you will want for little, with standard kit including automatic cruise control, electrically adjusted driver's seat, premium sound system, satellite navigation, dual zone climate control, heated windscreen and powered tailgate.

Like all the most powerful Hybrid 4s, you may be a little surprised at the way it takes off when provoked, feeling properly quick in a refined sort of way, helped by an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

It will touch 146mph with petrol and battery power or 84mph on battery alone - and you can tell the car to save some battery if you want to cruise guilt and emissions-free through an upcoming town.

Less likely to happen, but deeply impressive, was the way the test Grandland X coped with some properly muddy tracks on the public bits of the Queen's Windsor estate, portioning out power so delicately to individual wheels that there was only the remotest hint of wheel slip on the most gloopy bits.


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