VAUXHALL has launched its new family SUV Grandland model and it comes with a wide choice of trim levels as well as the option of plug-in hybrid technology.
Formerly known as the Grandland X, the latest generation has ditched the X from its name but gained a fresh, smarter design, a wealth of upgraded technology, improved driving dynamics and more powertrain choices.
We opted to try the 1.6-litre plug in hybrid model that sees the 180ps petrol engine working with a 110ps electric motor to deliver a combined 225ps and 300Nm of torque.
The mid-trim GS Line model cost £33,820 with the price bumped up a further £600 thanks to two-coat metallic paintwork.
With the car starting in EV mode as its default, the acceleration out the starting blocks is sharp and this car can sprint to 60mph in just 8.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 140mph. It can be driven at speeds up to 84mph in electric-only mode and there are Hybrid and Sport modes to choose from too.
While the official WLTP-tested fuel efficiency figure of 192mpg would only be seen if the car was driven a large percentage of the time in EV mode and then recharged regularly, the low carbon emissions figure of 31g/km does bring with it attractive tax savings, especially for business drivers.
The sporty-looking GS Line Grandland boasts lots of gloss black trim to give it plenty of road presence. There is a black roof with gloss black roof rails, gloss black detailing and badging, along with gloss black front and rear skid plates. Dark tinted rear windows, sweeping LED light clusters and 18-inch alloys - also gloss black - complete the styling.
Moving inside, the interior is more upmarket than its predecessor with a simplistic, yet feature-rich cockpit. High-end tech includes a 10-inch infotainment screen, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, a six-speaker sound system, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth.
There is a chunky gear lever, flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel with paddles to change gears manually, dual-zone climate control with pre-conditioning and lots more besides.
Comfort levels are exceptionally good up front and there is ample room in the back for two adults to stretch out in style - or three at a bit of a squeeze. And being an SUV, the boot is generously sized with a limit of 390 litres, increasing to 1,598 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat. This is a slightly less than the petrol or diesel-powered versions due to the hybrid technology eating into storage space.
When it comes to performance, the new Grandland PHEV model is nicely composed on motorways with very little wind, road surface or engine noise filtering into the cabin.
It is balanced on twisting country lanes with decent grip into tighter bends, although you will notice a little body movement if curves are attacked too eagerly.
Then in busier city centres, the vehicle is a delight to drive. There is a B mode on the gear lever that increases the levels of regenerative braking and that makes single pedal driving possible when there is lots of stop and start traffic.
The electric driving range of 39 miles does drop fairly quickly if driven hard, but that's when it's best to switch across to one of the other modes to maximise efficiency and also save the EV charge for when it might be needed such as a Congestion Charge zone.
Charging the battery is a simple procedure and the 13.2kWh battery can be boosted in one hour, 45 minutes via a 7.4kW home wallbox charger.
There is also an app so you can view the state of charge and driving range from your phone, and the remote pre-conditioning means owners can warm or cool the car before leaving home.
When you factor in the impressive list of safety features that are standard on the Grandland, it is quite the complete package. These include high beam assist, forward collision alert, driver drowsiness alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, speed sign recognition, six airbags and plenty more besides.
All in all, the latest Grandland is quite a step up from the model it replaces and the plug-in hybrid technology works efficiently in the background making it a wise choice for anyone who can make the most of those EV miles.
Combined 225ps, 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, petrol engine with electric motor and 8-speed automatic transmission