Motors with Tony Conlon.... Grand by name and nature

Having recently been smitten by the new Opel Astra, I was also very impressed with one of its bigger siblings this week, the revamped Opel Grandland.

I am fond of the present Opel range largely because of the changes brought about since the German carmaker was taken over by the French PSA Group. Investment in research and development and then putting the results into practice has resulted in higher build quality that extends from the exterior and interior finishes right across the mechanical spectrum.

Everything from economy, performance and comfort levels and road handling is better. Now add in a new Irish management that are more focused on the Irish motor trade and is it any wonder there is a new feel-good factor about the brand in this country.

There was a time when the introduction of a facelifted model might only extend to newly designed wheel trims and maybe a new sporty-looking stripe along the sides. But Opel has gone a lot deeper than that with this latest SUV.

The Grandland is a striking SUV that attracted a lot of attention over the course of my week’s test drive. The test model looked very well as it had a lovely black theme to it. Painted black and sitting on black 19” alloy wheels, the SUV even had high gloss black roof rails.

Displaying the new signature (black) Opel Vizor brand face, the vehicle sports a fresh new exterior look redolent of good build quality and a sense of strength.

The interior has a pretty and very functional new Pure Panel cockpit and technology that can be termed class-leading in many ways. My top-level Elite version (SC and SRI trim levels also available) had Jet Black Napa leather upholstery, and the AGR-tested and certified front sports seats for healthy backs proved very supportive and comfortable.

In front of the driver, Opel has installed a 12” digital instrument cluster and to the left and central, an easily controlled 10” colour touchscreen that has navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This Opel offers 514 litres of boot space with the rear seats up and 1,652 with the seats folded.

The list of creature comforts and safety elements on this car extends to automatic dual zone electronic climate control, heated front seats, steering wheel and windshield, wireless charger and USB connectivity.

Safety-wise, the Grandland can boast an electronic stability programme (ESP), electronic braking distribution (EBD), active emergency braking system, cruise control with speed limiter, active lane keep assist, enhanced traffic sign recognition, ultrasonic side blind spot alert and hill start assist.

The most rewarding feature I found was the full LED Pixel Matrix AFL front headlamps that had high beam assist installed as standard. The excellent visibility from these lights makes them a key safety

feature on the Grandland. Watch this space, though, because in order to have a more competitive starting priced SC version, these lights could become an option - so if interested, buy now.

Complete with rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, handsfree electric tailgate, auto headlamps and wipers, the standard of equipment on this Opel puts many so-called premium competitors to shame.

The Grandland produces 130hp and the ease with which this car performed, and the fuel returns it produced, proved remarkable, to say the least. At no time did the small 1.2 powerplant feel or sound stressed. A drop of a cog from sixth to fifth gear showed there was plenty of power in reserve.

Adopt a bit of eco thinking and driving habits and this Grandland can return 5.6 l/100km (50mpg). The nicely spaced and smooth manual gear ratios undoubtedly help to deliver such good economy figures. Comfort levels and the reassuring handling abilities gave rise to nothing other than praise.

With winter approaching, the value of good lighting on a car cannot be underestimated. I admire Opel for offering such high-tech, advanced lighting as standard.

I often wonder how many people would even think to check the lighting on a car before they buy it. Then again, I don’t suppose many cars are sold after dark. But it’s too late to check out after your first drive in the dark following purchase.

Price of the Grandland Elite version: €41,995.