Vauxhall’s new GSe sub-brand lands with a trio of models. The Astra GSe is a peppy hatchback with a distinctive design, or if you’re after a family-friendly car that’s big on space but isn’t an SUV, the Astra Sports Tourer GSe estate is well worth a look. Then there’s this, the Grandland GSe SUV.
Fans of upright, chunkier mid-size SUVs will be familiar with the Grandland, which has been around in various forms for a while, but the facelifted incarnation seen here gives it a whole new lease of life. The familiar ‘Vizor’ front grille fits in nicely alongside Vauxhall’s newer models, and the view from the rear is inviting too.
GSe-specific flourishes underline its beefier, EV-inclined credentials, although the powertrain isn’t some performance special; the 1.6-litre petrol and electric motor pairing is much the same as the one found on other Stellantis group cars, which don’t claim to be sporty in the slightest. The difference here is there are two motors, delivering four-wheel drive, and a bespoke suspension tune that should be more entertaining when hustled.
The Grandland GSe’s black bonnet starts a theme that runs across the upper surfaces of the car. The look might not be to all tastes, especially with contrasting white paint, but it does give a distinctive visual edge that differentiates it from the regular car. The black ‘Visor’ finishes off the effect at the front, alongside IntelliLux Pixel Matrix LED headlights.
Meanwhile, the specially crafted 19-inch ‘Monza’ alloy wheels add to the eye-catching design. They’re said to aid aerodynamic efficiency, but we reckon they’ve got greater potential to be easily kerbed. The Grandland lettering along the tailgate works to good effect, while low-key GSe badging hopefully notifies people behind you that you’re driving something a little more interesting than a bog-standard Grandland.
As a mid-size SUV you’d think space would be generous, but because you’ve got the battery and electric motor packed away in the back, boot space is less capacious than anticipated at 390 litres, seats up. It’s not enough to become a problem though, and most average families should cope easily enough. The interior is very respectable, with the front seats being the high point. Finished in Alcantara they’re firm, but offer a snug, grippy appeal that works particularly well once you start to work the Grandland GSe through those corners.
The Grandland’s lofty feel is certainly a contrast to the low, wide and nicely planted feeling you get from Vauxhall’s Astra hatchback. That said, the GSe’s ride is more engaging than you expect thanks to specially tweaked, frequency selective dampers and firmer springs.
You also have the benefit of the four-wheel-drive setup, which works well at getting the power down from the 107bhp front and 111bhp rear motors. It’s by no means a rocketship, but copes just fine with most driving situations and can crack a smile on the right road, in any of its three drive modes.
You’ll want to tap into Sport if you’re looking to squeeze the best out of the engine/motor combo, although this comes with artificially stiffened steering. Hybrid works for everyday driving duties when you’re trying to get the most from your fuel tank, and EV only is perfect for short trips. Engaging B mode adds a decent level of battery regeneration using the brakes if you want maximum efficiency.
Inside, the Pure Panel digital display gives an expansive view of the instruments. The 12in cluster is sensibly sized and handles alls the essentials, while the 10in touchscreen infotainment system does pretty much all you’d expect. That means Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of the package, although the view of the integrated sat nav isn’t always as good as it could be, both in terms of size and clarity. The interface is similar to other Stellantis models, but we prefer Vauxhall’s straightforward approach to the overly showy script used by Peugeot and DS.
The Grandland is a reasonably sizeable SUV, so the Intelli-Vision 360-degree camera is a worthwhile inclusion for reversing into tight spaces. A supplemental blind spot alert system also proves handy in busy highway situations.
There’s a Night Vision option too, which flags up potential hazards after dark, such as pedestrians or animals with notifications appearing in the instrument display. Wireless smartphone charging also features for added convenience.
Vauxhall Grandland GSe verdict
Vauxhall has done a great job of reinventing the Grandland. Those facelifted design touches give the exterior a new lease of life and while the interior doesn’t dazzle (stellar front seats aside) it seems perfectly suited to families who just want a functional, really sensible all-round solution.
Performance-wise, the GSe provides everything you need, with whisper-quiet around town EV simplicity and enough combined punch once the petrol engine is brought into play. While it might not be the most exciting mini SUV to drive, the stiffer chassis and suspension tweaks deliver more than just a dependable ride. That should keep those in the driver’s seat happy, as well as any little ones prone to travel sickness in the back.
A neat variation on Vauxhall’s crossover SUV and one that’s keenly priced if you’re wanting to head into spicier PHEV territory
Vauxhall Grandland GSe technical specifications
|Engine||1.6-litre petrol, plus 2x electric motors|
|Range/economy||41 miles (electric) 235mpg (combined)|
|Charge rate||4 hours via home wallbox|
|Cargo volume||390/1528 litres (seats up/down)|