“The decisive factor is matching up and combining the electric engine, combustion engine, and transmission in a way that saves space, too. And it really worked out with the Hybrid4.”
– Frank Jordan –
Director Advanced Engineering
The Black Forest in winter? It may be picturesque and beautiful, but it also poses quite the challenge. Especially if you drive along the winding, snowy, and rather slippery roads around the Feldberg by car. That’s where performance, traction, and a harmonious coordination of engine and transmission are required. This means that for Mathias Reinartz and his team at Opel, these are exactly the right conditions to send journalists out onto the road with a new Grandland X Hybrid4: Nearly 500 journalists from 30 countries answered the call to get to know Opel’s first plug-in hybrid and test it on winding roads through Germany’s highest low-mountain range for two weeks.
FIRST THE GROUNDWORK, THEN THE DETAILS
9 a.m., arrival at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. Let’s first look at the specs of the Grandland X Hybrid4 before we delve into the details. After all, the journalists stemming from Norway to Greece want to know what they will be driving and experiencing. Give me the facts, straight up: Two electric engines (one in front, one in the rear), paired with a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, deliver 221 kW/300 hp of total power and maximum torque of powerful 520 Newton meters.
Four driving modes ranging from hybrid to purely electric, from four-wheel drive to a sportier feel, provide drivers with variety. “The perfect car for all needs,” boasts Frank Jordan, Director of Advanced Engineering. Weighing in at 1.8 metric tons with its 13.2-kWh battery, the Grandland X Hybrid4 is anything but a featherweight, “but it’s all about getting the right power-to-weight ratio. And the Hybrid4 is exemplary in this regard with its 6.3 kg per horsepower.” Meaning that it speeds off quickly, while using the power efficiently – at least that is what will be tested here.
GETTING TO KNOW ONE ANOTHER
And off we go: Lined up in bright blue and red – with the typical black Hybrid4 engine hood as always – the vehicles await their drivers in front of the airport terminal, ready for a test drive. Quiet as a whisper, and above all without local emissions – the Grandland X Hybrid4 purrs silently in electric mode. A feeling more pleasant than riding the railways. There is time to try out the different driving modes at a leisure pace before hitting the mountain stages (the truck two cars ahead of us simply will not turn off …). And yes, the combined power of the electric engines and a turbocharged gasoline engine already makes you want to drive on a highway later on …
But at the moment it is more of a gentle ride – and that is where in Hybrid mode, the Grandland X really shows its strengths. In this mode the SUV always drives the most efficiently. Mostly electric – if you press the accelerator pedal quickly, the combustion engine switches on briefly and then, once the driving style is balanced, control is transferred back to the rear electric engine. The change between the two is absolutely smooth. You would not even notice which engine is in charge if it were not for the display (either in the infotainment screen or in the driver’s direct field of vision), which shows the flow of energy.
“I can decide for myself whether I want to drive in a more relaxed, or faster, or particularly sporty. But performance will always be optimal. The ingenious and efficient interaction of three energy sources makes the Grandland X Hybrid4 a real jack-of-all-trades.”
– Lars Steinweg –
Manager Business Unit Low Emission Vehicles
But now it is time to get down to it. The country road meanders up towards the Feldberg. At first the road is still wet from the rain, but the higher we go, the more slush there is. So it is time for four-wheel drive. What was it that Lars Steinweg, Manager of Business Unit Low Emission Vehicles, promised? “The vehicle’s handling remains extremely stable in four-wheel drive, even on the most slippery surfaces, therefore giving you the best possible control at all times.” No matter the weather, that’s right! Whether you want to quickly pass a bus ahead of you on a hill or take a corner a little more aggressively – the Grandland X Hybrid4 holds to the road absolutely safely. Which is not only fun, but also it gives drivers an overall feeling of safety.
MORE RANGE, LESS BRAKING
Just as pleasant: Driving downhill is best done by moving the selector lever to “B.” The i-Booster jumps into action and the Grandland X recuperates power when the engine brake engages. Pleasant side effect: Not only does this increase the electric range again, the vehicle also slows down the speed by itself due to the increased recuperation – essentially you will not need to actively brake before the next corner again.
By the way, if the SUV is powered purely electrically, there is a blue light that illuminates in the interior mirror, clearly visible from the outside. It shows others on the road that: The Grandland X Hybrid4 is currently driving emission-free. This interplay of electric and four-wheel drive really makes the ride quite fun. But the number of little horses that are actually corralled under the metal coat of the plug-in hybrid becomes clear when moving back onto the highway on our way to the airport.
With its total power of 300 hp, the Hybrid4 shows what lightning-fast acceleration means. It felt like it took no time at all to accelerate from 70 to 190 kph, and the other companions only see the taillights of the Grandland X – at least until the 120-kph speed limit sign appears on the side of the road, and in the display. What a shame. Officially, it would have been officially possible to go up to 235 kph with this powerful little hybrid…
We are nearing our destination,
and there is a hush – as silent as a whisper again.
It is time to turn off the highway and head back to the airport. The last few kilometers are driven again in Electric mode. And after about 200 kilometers of driving, we arrive at the starting point late in the afternoon just as quietly as we started out a few hours ago in eager anticipation. The question remains: Did the vehicle live up to the promises? Well, obviously! The Grandland X Hybrid4 is clearly a car for any type of weather or need. What’s more, it is also fun to drive. That’s what the press thinks, too, as the media’s response to it has been quite impressive.
Press reviews of the Opel Grandland X Hybrid4