VAUXHALL had been making a name for itself in the compact SUV market with its handy-sized Mokka, then the Crossland, but now it has added a bit extra to its commitment to this area of the market with the launch of the Grandland X – its biggest SUV-style model yet.

While rural buyers may still wince over the use of the Vauxhall name in the fairly awful Frontera, this latest generation should help erase those memories.

This time it is using the Peugeot 3008 platform – itself a smart-looking mid-size SUV – though there’s not much comparison in terms of looks. I actually prefer the looks of the Peugeot version, though the Grandland X does have some appeal and competes well with the likes of others in the sector – the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage, among others.

Vauxhall looks to have made some extra effort in making the Grandland X a pleasant place to while away your driving hours.

There’s added seat comfort from an extendable front seat cushion, with a fair range of adjustment in positioning too. It also has the luxury of heated seats – ideal for those cold morning starts.

As far as standard equipment goes, you can expect the benefit of a camera-based lane departure warning jiggle, road sign recognition, intelligent cruise control, and air conditioning with particulate and odour filter. I always appreciate when it’s easy to connect and disconnect your phone and that was a feature of the Grandland X, with a seven-inch touchscreen providing the wherewithal.

Vauxhall’s ‘OnStar’ service is also part of that and this has a built in range of owner services, including automatic crash response, a Wi-Fi hotspot facility, stolen vehicle assistance and vehicle diagnostics.

If you drive the Grandland X you will be entirely surprised – as I was – to find that under the bonnet is a lusty little 1.2-litre petrol engine. Yes, that’s right, 1.2-litres and only three cylinders.

You’d be hard pushed not to think, though – if you were not forewarned – that this was powered by a much larger unit. It does push out a fairly creditable 128bhp and has 230 Nm of torque, but you need to work the gears to get the most out of it. That means, I don’t think there’s much scope for it as a towing vehicle.

The payback comes in terms of fuel economy – according to the manufacturer this SUV will return mid-50s mpg under usual driving conditions – and it is also handily placed for insurance purposes. Its 0-62mph race time is quite a leisurely 11.1 seconds, but it feels a bit better than that.

The Grandland X uses Vauxhall’s IntelliGrip traction controls, an optional electronic system which ensures optimum road grip in tricky situations even though this is a two-wheel-drive vehicle. It changes torque distribution to the front wheels, depending on which of the five driving modes has been selected, for better traction and stable handling.

Prices start at £23,130 and there is also a 1.5-litre turbo diesel available from £23,885 which has a similar horsepower to the petrol, but with at least 10mpg saving on fuel. Top of the range, though, is the Grandland X Ultimate, which has a 174bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel and comes in at a hefty start of £34,280.