Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Grandland X’s engine range opens with a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol. You might expect this to struggle given its small size, but it produces a respectable 128bhp. You have to work it hard before it gives its best, though, so it can feel a little strained when you have to get up to motorway speeds on a short slip road, for example. It's ultimately not that nippy against the clock, either; the less powerful Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI 115 managed a slightly quicker 0-60mph dash in our tests.
The 128bhp 1.5 diesel accelerates more strongly from low down in the rev range and takes you to motorway speeds briskly enough. It runs out of puff quickly when driven hard, though, so you’ll be changing through the gears quickly. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard with the diesel and petrol engines; and automatic ‘box is optional.
There’s a choice of two plug-in hybrids, each of which have an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Hybrid is has front-wheel drive and offers 222bhp, while the Hybrid4adds an electric motor to power the rear wheels, taking total power up to 296bhp – enough for a 0-62mph time of 5.9sec. Of these, we’ve tried only the Hybrid 4, and it’s certainly quick; there’s enough power in electric mode to easily keep up with traffic, even if you find yourself on a motorway. However, we reckon most buyers will be better off with the cheaper petrol engine.
Suspension and ride comfort
The ride isn’t as forgiving of poor road surfaces as the Nissan Qashqai’s, but, on the whole, it isn't too bad, taking the edge off bumps and expansion joints that the firmer-riding Seat Ateca would thud over. The Hybrid4 we tried did thump over patchwork urban roads, but then it did have giant 19in wheels. Hopefully a version with smaller wheels will soften these impacts off a little more.
The side-effect of the comparative softness of its suspension is that the Grandland X’s body can move around a fair bit over undulating roads, and the consistent bobbing that results tends to jostle you and your passengers around. However, it’s something you’ll be aware of rather than overly annoyed by.
Ride comfort in the comparable Peugeot 3008 is negatively affected when you specify ‘IntelliGrip’ grip control as part of the optional All Road Pack – its contents include a set of stiffer all-weather tyres. We expect the story to be similar on the Grandland X.
Despite fairly soft suspension, the conventionally powered Grandland X's bodies don't sway about too much through bends, but there is a noticeable amount of nose-dive under braking and the opposite sensation under hard acceleration. The considerable weight of the batteries of the hybrid models leads to a bit more body lean and a slight reduction in agility. Grip levels are fine in all variants, but handling is tidy rather than enjoyable.
The steering feels vague around the straight-ahead, leading to a rather dead feel on the motorway, but once you turn the wheel past the first few degrees the car starts to change direction quite quickly. That inconsistency can take a while to acclimatise to; in a Seat Ateca, for example, the steering is more progressive and feels more intuitive.
Put simply, if driving pleasure is a high priority, the Seat Ateca is much more likely to satisfy.
Noise and vibration
The three-cylinder petrol thrums away and sounds rather coarse at high revs, plus there’s a constant whine from the engine when settled at cruising speeds. It also sends quite a few vibrations through the pedals and gearlever at certain engine speeds, and, while the diesel is quieter overall, it still makes a racket, especially at higher revs. Manual models have a rather long throw to their gearshift, while the optional automatic in petrol and diesel models shifts gently between gears, but is a little too keen to kick down.
Hybrid models run smoothly and quietly on electric power, but the 1.6-litre petrol engine sends quite a few vibrations through the controls. It’s quiet when you’re pottering around and at a cruise, but is rather coarse if you decide to try the 5.9sec 0-62 time. The switch between petrol and electric running isn’t as seamless as that you’ll experience in the the Kia Niro plug-in, either.
From about 50mph upwards in all versions, you have to put up with some wind noise emanating from around the door mirrors and, on coarse surfaces, a degree of road noise, too. It’s not overwhelmingly loud, but the Nissan Qashqai is noticeably quieter.