Improved Opel Grandland shows its worth but at a price
Ride quality remains a standout, together with the comfort focused heated, ventilated and electric seats.
Opel Vizor and Compass grille has helped spruced the Grandland up significantly on the outside.
Opel, under the auspices of Stellantis – and by former importer Unitrans Motors it has to be said – has, in recent years, been trying every trick in the proverbial spell book to regain its once storied following as one of South Africa’s top-selling names.
On the comeback
Besides introducing the fairly successful new Mokka last year, the Blitz completely realigned the Corsa range in late May in order to revive the once hugely popular Corsa Lite, complete with the Raj 1 and Raj 2 characters from the television ad, as its most accessible model.
Less of a fanfare was the updates applied to the Crossland at the end of 2021, while the launch of the Combo van two years before, enjoyed a bit more attention if not the same as that of the Zafira Life van.
The gains in success have, however, come against the backdrop of less-than-ideal monthly sales numbers across all of Stellantis’ marques, with challenges ranging from supply constraints to the lingering aftereffects of the global semi-conductor crisis.
A bane the automaker is well aware of, it has, nonetheless, continued to press forward with the latest emphasis on Opel being the long awaited replacement for the Grandland X, the facelift and renamed Grandland.
Joining the Crossland and Mokka in employing the Opel Vizor, the Grandland’s makeover isn’t solely reserved for its exterior and although expectations were characteristic of a vehicle subjected to a mid-life refresh, a few surprise emerged from the local launch held in the Magaliesberg last week.
What has changed
Based on the EMP2 platform that underpins the Citroën C5 Aircross and Peugeot 5008, the Grandland’s new suite has also extended to the its trim level labels as the previous Enjoy and Cosmo have both shelved in favour of GS Line and Ultimate.
Strangely, the entry-level Edition now goes without a denominator and although no reason for this is known, the trek from Stellantis’s new head office in Waterwall City in Midrand to Hartbeespoort was conducted in the Ultimate that carries a sticker price of R720 900.
A model that at one stage accounted for two percent of sales in its segment, the transition from Grandland X to Grandland has seen the introduction of not only the blacked-out Opel Vizor, but also the Opel Compass that takes into account the lightning bolt and central placing of the badge itself.
Flanked by new headlights, outfitted with Opel’s latest Pixel adaptive Matrix IntelliLux LEDs on the Ultimate only, the Grandland also receives a new front bumper, restyled taillight clusters, colour coded wheel arches on the Ultimate and a new Grandland badge spread across the tailgate underneath the Opel Blitz.
Appearing suitably more aggressive and distinctive than the Grandland X, the Grandland’s colour chart has also undergone a rethink with the availability of five colours; Perla Nera Black, Banquise White, Artense Grey, Bright Grey and Vertigo Blue.
Step inside, the interior’s biggest nuance is the new Pure Panel infotainment system and digital instrument cluster.
A standard feature across the range that conforms to Opel’s Detox approach to interior design, the configuration consists of two seven-inch displays in the base and GS Line, with the Ultimate receiving the Panel in a 10 and 12-inch setup.
Cleaner to look at, the former still lacks a ‘menu’ setting, but is a trifle better than the old eight-inch system. Resplendent with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the system also boasts integrated satellite navigation and Bluetooth.
Elsewhere, the gear lever from the 5008 has been integrated into the centre console, the materials upgraded to feel more premium and the seats, trimmed in leather on the Ultimate, uprated to meet the latest back support comfort levels as set-out by Germany’s AGR campaign.
On the road
An area the Grandland X failed to disappoint in, the 100 km or so launch route took place in significant comfort radiating not only from the seats, but also a lack of engine or road noise at the national limit.
In addition, the suspension absorbed imperfections with distinction, while the electric power steering provided a justifiable amount of feedback for a vehicle of this type.
While carried over from the Grandland X, the heated steering wheel remains grippy to the touch and the physical dials for the dual-zone climate control a doddle to use and understand.
Reported back in 2021 has heading for South Africa powered by a hybrid powertrain, which Stellantis subsequently revealed had been an error on the part of its social media team, the Grandland’s 1.6-litre turbocharged PureTech petrol engine made for a surprise of its own on the road.
Carried over from the Grandland X, and producing an unchanged 121kW/240Nm, the proven but certainly not new unit felt perkier, smoother and devoid of the the same low-down lag that hobbled it at the first hurdle five years ago.
The same goes for the six-speed automatic gearbox, whose tendency to hunt for gears or get confused in the Grandland X, didn’t show in the Grandland.
That being said, paddle shifters are still omitted and while unlikely to be missed by the majority of buyers, would have contributed to final packaging, especially now that a drive mode selector with three settings; Eco, Normal and Sport, has been included.
The effective replacement for the new Astra as a result of C-segment SUVs being more popular than comparative hatchbacks, the facelift Opel Grandland represents a still likeable entrant with lot going for it on the specification front regardless of the trim level selected.
However, the words “a lot” comes with another definition, in this case, a price that kicks-off at R599 900 for the base model.
A predicament the Grandland X also found itself in, the harsh reality rings true again as the Grandland remains on the unnecessarily expensive side and unlikely to pose much of a threat to the segment heavyweights anytime soon.
While indeed a compelling left-field option improved in key areas over its predecessor it undoubtedly is, a price rethink is still required should a return to Opel’s glory days be top of mind.