Opel, which celebrates 120 years of automobile manufacture next year, has had a long history of producing cars that either innovate in their category or are out left-field of everyone else at the time and, in the latter case, one just has to remember the Opel Manta or the 2001 Zafira OPC that was then the fastest production-model van in Europe.
South Africans will remember the track antics on the Opel ‘Superboss’ Kadetts in the hands of Grant McCleery and Michael Briggs or the fact the brand has won the South African Car of the Year title four times – Monza 160 Gsi (1991), Kadett 140 (1994), Astra 160S (1995) and Astra (2017).
When General Motors first left the country, the Opel brand remained under the guidance of Delta Motor Corporation and when GM again pulled up stakes, it is the Opel brand that remains.
This longevity in this specific situation is a mirror of the company as a whole, formed by Adam Opel January 21, 1862 in Rüsselsheim to manufacture sewing machines. By entering the booming business of bicycle manufacture, Opel secures a second foothold for his company. The Opel sons were enthusiastic cyclists, winning several hundred races on Opel bicycles in the years up to 1898. In less than 40 years, Opel became the world’s largest bicycle producer.
Adam Opel died in 1895 at the age of 58. His wife Sophie assumed responsibility for running the business, with the support of her sons and in 1899 Opel Patent Motor Car, System Lutzmann was the name given to the first Opel automobile. It marked the beginning of production in Rüsselsheim, and formed the basis for building the first utility vehicles.
Within the year, the company made its international motor sport début and in 1901 Heinrich von Opel won the Königsstuhl hill climb near Heidelberg in an Opel Lutzmann – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Like many other automakers, Opel did go through a period where it appeared to have lost is vim and vigour, producing bland and boring cars until it re-invented itself with the new Astra and started that move to left of field again with the Mokka.
The Grandland X, the third member of the ‘X’ family was launched in Frankfurt in 2017 to take on the booming ‘C’ segment of the SUV market that holds around 10% of the total share of vehicles sales today.
At 4477 millimeters long, 1 844 millimeters wide and 1 636 millimeters high, the Opel Grandland X certainly looks the part in a modern design style and is based on the PSA EMP2 platform, which refers to the collaboration with Peugeot, making it a 3008 underneath.
In the front the Opel Blitz is flanked by chrome winglets that flow outwards to the slim, double-wing LED headlamps, while the hood features the signature Opel crease – an expression of the Opel design philosophy ‘Sculptural Artistry meets German Precision’.
The rear view of the Grandland X shows shows the wide stance, silver underride protection with integrated tailpipes on the left and right and above that protective cladding and slim LED taillights.
Inside, the center stack has three horizontal rows of controls for access to infotainment, climate control and chassis functions. The interior surfaces feature high-class haptics, giving the driver and passengers a feeling of well-being and comfort in all seats.
Its long wheelbase of 2,68 m means it SUV has plenty of space for up to five people and the luggage compartment, with a load volume from 514 litres to a maximum of 1 652 litres. FlexFold seats disappear with a one hand movement and the 40:60 split ratio lets the user adapt the seating to their needs.
The Grandland X has a 1,6-litre turbo petrol engine producing 121 kW and 240 Nm, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Standard fare includes 360° surround vision via a camera in the front and one in the back, LED headlamps with Adaptive Forward Lighting and 30% brighter vision than with conventional headlamps, heated and ventilated ergonomic AGR front seats that adjust electrically in up to 16 ways, hands-free autonomous parking and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible Radio R 4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system with an eight-inch colour touchscreen or voice control.
It also offers Traffic Sign Recognition, Headlamp High-Beam Assist – Auto Control and Lane Departure Warning, features that are not always standard in this segment.
In terms of safety, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution and a bundle of air-bags help to limit untoward events and keep the passengers safe.
On the road it is a smooth performer but, do not be fooled by the Turbo badging. It is not a road racer and the gearing is quite lazy, being tuned more for economy than speed and this, coupled with a bit of lag from the turbo means sedate cruising is the default mode.
The suspension is also wired towards comfort so the Grandland will tend to wallow a bit when forced into a corner – although it must be said, that aside, it remains comfortably neutral under pressure and will head towards where it is pointed after some initial understeer.
Definitely a long-haul highway cruiser – a fact borne out by a fully-laden test session where it happily just muched away at the miles – the highway fuel data showing 7,1 l/100 km and our overall result in all road conditions 8,6 l/100 km.
The Opel comes standard with a 5-year/90 000 km Service Plan and a 5-year/120 000 km Warranty.