Will anyone notice Opel’s new Grandland?
It is hard to review a current Opel product without thinking of the brand's glory days. Back when the company was a national staple, in the eras of General Motors and Delta.
The likes of the Astra, Kadett and Corsa were mainstream favourites, selling in similar volumes to models from other hugely popular marques such as Toyota and Volkswagen.
Nowadays, under the Stellantis umbrella, Opel fades into the periphery. The organisation, while boasting a number of heritage-steeped brands, struggles to gain traction in Mzansi, usually ranking towards the back of the monthly sales charts with its combined figures.
It isn't a case of shoddy products. Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat Jeep and Peugeot have a good number of desirable contenders in their respective portfolios. But perhaps these brands aren't marketed effectively, with little done to change views around aftersales service. Opel also has a respectable line-up of cars, with the Corsa handling B-segment competition and the recently updated Grandland tasked with being the flagship of the range.
We spent time with the C-segment sport-utility vehicle after its local introduction. The tweaks are minor. Note the updated frontal look sporting the new Opel Vizor face, with its blacked-out grille panel. There are new alloy wheel designs, restyled rear lighting clusters and the fitment of the refreshed Opel blitz logo.
Inside the cabin is largely unchanged, save for the incorporation of what the brand dubbed a Pure Panel system — a fancy title for what is a digital instrument cluster and standard central infotainment system. In the range-topping Ultimate grade model we tested, the instrument cluster is 12 inches and the touchscreen is 10 inches. The Intellilink infotainment set-up features built-in navigation. The platform is not as slick in operation or as high in display clarity as other units experienced in the class. The navigation, for instance, seemed to be running outdated map software.
The Ultimate costs R720,000. A tier below on the hierarchy is the GS Line, at R679,900, while the base version costs R599,900. You also get a five-year/100,000km warranty and service plan.
One engine and transmission combination serves the range: a 1.6-litre, turbocharged-petrol with four cylinders, which is linked to a six-speed automatic. This produces 121kW and 240Nm, sent to the front wheels. Our test unit showed an average fuel consumption of 7.4l/100km.
Boot space is a useful 514l with the rear seats up, extending to more than 1,600l once folded. Interior packaging and spaciousness could not be criticised, with a 2,675mm wheelbase and 1,609mm height making for a roomy cabin. The ground clearance of 123mm does not inspire confidence if you plan to make gravel road journeys, however. With its swanky 18-inch wheels, the Grandland Ultimate is certainly an asphalt-biased steed.
Over a week of testing spanning the usual gamut, from traffic to highway, the Grandland Ultimate was a fairly pleasant companion. Its front seats are certified by the German back health authority, and are effective at keeping cramps at bay during longer stints. The semi-autonomous driving aids, which includes lane-keep assist, can be a little intrusive. Some drivers might prefer that.
Interior quality and on-road refinement could be described as good, if not stellar.
There are other picks in the category that offer a bit more in terms of overall polish. This is a fiercely competitive arena and the Grandland faces a difficult task. For the same money, you would be looking at offerings such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5. Then there are the Chinese contenders to be mindful of: Haval H6 and Chery Tiggo 8.
We also cannot forget the rivalry within the Stellantis stable, with relations to the Grandland in the form of the Peugeot 3008 and Citroën C5.
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