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First Drive: Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4

The story:
The Grandland X Hybrid range is the first of Vauxhall’s new electric models. Using a PSA Group platform, it’s efficient and brisk in four-wheel drive form.
Category:Crossover
Key rival:Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Vauxhall Grandland X PHEV
Price:£46,640
MPG:204 mpg
Emissions:34g/km
On sale:Now

Vauxhall is launching into the world of electrification in 2020. Ahead of the fully electric Corsa-e, we have the Grandland X Hybrid4. In turn the Hybrid4 will soon be joined by a front-wheel-drive version that is considerably cheaper and will be the obvious choice for company car users.

However, the only model available on our first experience of the Grandland X PHEV’s was the all-wheel-drive model, so let’s take a look. It uses the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine found in a variety of parent firm PSA Group models. On its own, this produces 200hp, but with the addition of the two electric motors, one for each axle, power comes up to a muscular 300hp.

This urge is enough to get the Hybrid4 from a standing start to 62mph in just 5.9 seconds, making it the quickest and most powerful model in the Vauxhall range at present. It’s also the cleanest thanks to combined emissions of 34g/km for this model, with the front-drive version emitting 35g/km. On a WLTP-tested average fuel cycle, the Hybrid4 offers 204mpg, while the front-drive model gives 192mpg.

Either way, they are impressive figures and bode well for keeping taxation at a manageable level and to help offset the stiff pricing. The fully loaded Ultimate Nav version we tested tops out at more than £46,000, but the entry-point SE Nav comes in at £35,945.

Totting up the sums to see if the Vauxhall is best for you will depend to some extent on the type of driving you use it for. As a plug-in hybrid with an electric range of up to 35 miles, the Grandland X could potentially be driven without ever consuming a drop of petrol. Vauxhall says it chose this system and set-up because 80% of journeys fall within that 35-mile range and the petrol engine removes any range anxiety about longer drives.

First Drive-Vauxhall Grandland X PHEV-February 2020-Image 3The Grandland X pulls away from cold in EV mode, unless the outside temperature has dropped and the system reckons the battery needs a bit of warming up to be at its most efficient. On our chilly drive, the electric mode gave smooth, serene progress from the off with strong acceleration when needed.

When the petrol engine cuts in, it’s all but imperceptible and remains impressively refined at all speeds. The eight-speed auto is equally good at gliding through its gears with no obvious interruptions. Performance is also very good, although the Hybrid4 feels quite heavy if you try to make full use of the pace through corners. You can also sense the 1800kg mass as you brake when approaching a bend, while regenerative braking helps recoup power to the battery.

The ride is a little firmer than other Grandland X models, but otherwise it’s much the same. Even the boot space remains identical with the load floor in its higher position.

Charging the 13.2kW battery through the plug-in connection will take around three and half hours with the standard 3.7kW charging connection. For £500 more, you can choose the optional 7.4kW charger to halve that time. Vauxhall is also offering six months’ free membership of the Polar charging network.

As we’ve seen with several other plug-in hybrid models, the Grandland X comes with a number of driving modes. As well as a Sport setting, you have the default Hybrid set-up that is the easiest to live with. For the Hybrid4, there’s an All-Wheel Drive mode for slippery surfaces, while the Electric option allows for EV-only travel up to 84mph.

You can also use the e-Save function to reserve battery power for six or 12 miles to ensure you can run in EV-only form in low-emissions zones. When running solely on battery power, there’s a small blue light on the rear-view mirror that’s only visible from the outside to tell others you’re in zero-emissions mode.

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The verdict

There’s little to tell the Hybrid model from other Grandland X models, which makes the prices look steep. However, its refinement and financial proposition, especially when the cheaper front-drive models arrive, gives Vauxhall a good contender in the PHEV sector.