Vauxhall Grandland GSE
Wash or cream of the crop?
But isn't the Insignia Vauxhall's flagship model? Yes, strictly speaking, the Insignia is bigger (and more expensive) than the Grandland. However, the Insignia is the last model still designed with parent company GM. Vauxhall is now part of Stellantis and therefore all new Vauxhalls use different technology. So, the Insignia does not technically lend itself to the transformation into a GSE. Besides: the Insignia will soon be taken out of production, while Vauxhall still sees a future for the Grandland.
Since 2021, every Grandland features the "Vauxhall Vizor": a black panel that visually connects the headlights. This gives the car a much more imposing appearance than when the model was introduced in 2017. More black accents are added for the GSE. The roof, bonnet and mirrors are all painted in gloss black to make more of an impression. A rear diffuser completes the picture along with 19-inch rims.
The only change to the interior concerns the sports seats with alcantara upholstery. Unlike the Astra GSE, the Grandland GSE has sports seats with adjustable headrests, allowing drivers of varying stature to sit better (and more safely!). The Grandland offers space for four adults plus luggage.
Nothing has changed about the equipment. Thanks in part to various rejuvenating cures in the past, the equipment is rich and modern. For example, the Grandland is equipped with smart matrix headlights (selective illumination or dimming), a night vision camera and, of course, an infotainment system (audio, communication and sat nav). Despite the model's considerable age, the Grandland is therefore not perceived as outdated.
GSE drive: plug-in hybrid
GSE in the distant past stood for exclusive and sporty versions. That is why the Grandland GSE is equipped with the strongest engine Vauxhall has available: a 300 hp / 520 Nm plug-in hybrid, consisting of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors. However: that powertrain has been available on the Grandland since 2020! The only difference is that this power train will now only be available on the GSE version.
Even the engine management has not been changed, making the Grandland GSE a powerful yet none aggressive or challenging car. When the three engines join forces, the Grandland GSE is undeniably strong and decisive. At the same time, it lacks the aggression and fury that characterises a true sports car. Instead, Vauxhall opts for comfort and reserve on long distances with the GSE versions, as very high speeds are maintained with great ease.
For ultimate comfort, all-electric mode can be chosen. Then the Grandland can drive just under 50 km fully electric with the peace and agility that comes with it. Because all-wheel drive has been retained, the Grandland also manages off-road.
The most important modification for the GSE version concerns the chassis. The standard dampers have been replaced with ones that are firmer or softer depending on the frequency of bumps. With this, the Grandland retains its comfort, but the car reacts significantly sharper when driving dynamically. This is also thanks to a modified steering, which responds slightly more directly and has a more clear centre position.
Thanks to these modifications, the GSE is more capable than a standard Grandland and the driver is more engaged in the driving. Despite the more dynamic character, the Grandland remains comfortable. During the test, for example, it was noticeable that passengers are much less likely to feel nauseous on a twisty road than in other cars with a sporty character. At the same time, the driver actually enjoys the ride more.
Is the Vauxhall Grandland GSE the cream of the crop or a wash? The latter. Because the modifications to go from a standard Grandland to a GSE are minimal. The optical changes are minor, as the Grandland was already available with two-tone paint as standard. Apart from (fine) sports seats, the equipment has not become richer or more modern. The 300 hp plug-in hybrid engine was also already available.
The only difference is in the handling. Thanks to a modified suspension, the Grandland retains its comfort, but its dynamics are greatly improved. This does not yet make the GSE sporty, but it does make it more capable. In the end, the GSE does not convince as a sporty model, but it does convince as a top-of-the-range version of the Grandland.
- Spacious and practical
- Fast, strong and silent
- Old powertrain under new name
- No more economical than an all-electric SUV