Vauxhall Crossland X: Family focused
Vauxhall's new Crossland X is firmly focused on satisfying the demands of families, finds William Scholes
IT was a little surprising that Vauxhall, a master of the family car, has been slower than most to get on board the current 'crossover' bandwagon, writes William Scholes.
The car on these pages changes that, and one imagines the nameplate 'Crossland' is supposed to reflect this crossover status, though 'Crossland' could also be a synonym for Northern Ireland.
The Crossland is less 'SUV' than either of those cars. The styling isn't chunky enough to carry off the SUV tag, and in any case Vauxhall has clearly prioritised a more MPV-esque approach to space, practicality and flexibility with the Crossland.
This is just as well, as one of the Crossland's jobs is to replace the Meriva, Vauxhall's long-lived junior MPV.
So, the Crossland's role is to offer contemporary and commodious family transport on a small footprint; want an SUV of roughly similar size, and your friendly Vauxhall salesman will happily point you in the direction of a Mokka.
Put all that together, and Renault's rather fine Captur looks to be the Crossland's most obvious rival.
Another contender in the baby crossover class is the Peugeot 2008, though its sturdy proportions and pseudo off-road trim mean it carries the SUV tag that its maker has given it with reasonable conviction.
Such is the DNA splicing that goes on in the car industry, the Crossland and the 2008 share a platform and their main oily bits.
The Crossland's role is to offer contemporary and commodious family transport on a small footprint
That deal was hatched before Peugeot's recent takeover of Vauxhall; the larger Grandland X also shares much with another Peugeot, the very good 3008. We will soon be spending time with the Grandland X on Northern Ireland roads, and its 3008 roots mean expectations are high.
But back to the Crossland. The French link-up means it gets the same excellent 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines that you will find under the bonnets of Peugeot and Citroen models. This is a good thing.
A 1.6-litre diesel is your other engine choice. Both engines are available in a range of power outputs - 80bhp, 109bhp and 128bhp for the petrols, 98bhp or 118bhp for the diesels. The Crossland is front-wheel-drive and can be had with either five-speed or six-speed manual gearboxes, depending on the engine. The 109bhp petrol engine can be had with a six-speed automatic gearbox, too.
The Crossland feels roomier - especially up-front - with an airier interior, and possessing a more flexible interior than its Peugeot relative.
Depending on version, you can have back seats that slide fore and aft, allowing you to alter the ratio of boot space to rear legroom; the boot is large and sensibly flat-sided, and you can get an adjustable floor to give even more flexibility; the back seat is one of the better bets for carrying three passengers, too, as the middle pew is actually shaped as if carrying a human being was in the designers' minds. Plus, the central tunnel is quite small, to the benefit of footroom.
Headroom is ample front and rear, too, even for those with a 6ft-plus frame. The back doors open wide and square, and there is decent interior storage.
The Crossland X also packs a wifi hotspot - children and teenagers hooked up to smartphones will love that
These prosaic things matter in a car with family duties in mind, and Vauxhall's experience in this area shines through.
Fitting its OnStar connectivity package as standard is a canny move on this front. OnStar includes safety aids, such as automatic crash response and round-the-clock emergency assistance, but also packs a wifi hotspot - children and teenagers hooked up to smartphones will love that.
Trim levels rise from SE to TechLine Nav, Elite and Elite Nav before peaking at Ultimate.
Standard equipment on the SE is very good. In addition to OnStar, you will find air conditioning, cruise control, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, alloy wheels, six airbags and an infotainment system with smartphone mirroring.
Safety is a strong point - a must-have in any credible family car these days, of course - and the Crossland X has been awarded a five-star Euro Ncap crash safety rating.
Weaker are the Crossland's credentials as a driver's car. It grips gamely enough, steers neatly and the engines are pleasant; but the ride is easily unsettled, especially on rougher stretches of road where the suspension's damping soon signals 'enough', and the clutch is inconsistent to the point where easing away from a standstill became a game of 'guess the biting point'.
It's unclear where the more pliant ride and more comfortable ride and body control of the Peugeot 2008 has gone. In this regard it is closer to the lumpen Mokka than it is to the far more satisfying Astra and Insignia.
A Renault Captur is hardly the sort of car you would choose to lap the Nurburgring, but it goes about the humdrum business of everyday family car driving duties with more aplomb than the Crossland.
None of this may matter, or at least matter much, to many prospective buyers, though Drive is duty-bound to point it out.
If it doesn't matter to you, and you can look beyond the Crossland's dynamic shortcomings, then as a small car with a family-friendly focus Vauxhall's new crossover is worth a closer look.
AT A GLANCE
Vauxhall Crossland X Elite 1.2T 130PS
Price: £19,395. As tested £22,375. Options included rear-view camera pack £405, keyless entry and start £405, premium LED lighting pack £695, upgraded sat-nav and infotainment £710, spare wheel £110, alloy wheel upgrade £100, metallic paint £555
Engine and transmission: 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive; 128bhp, 170lb.ft
Performance: Top speed 128mph, 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds
Fuel consumption and CO2: 55.4mpg (EU combined), 41.7mpg (real world), 116g/km
Car tax: £160 in first year, then £140 annually
Benefit in kind: 22 per cent
Euro Ncap safety rating: Five stars (85/84/62/57), 2017