Vauxhall Crossland X: Putting families first
The Crossland X is Vauxhall's challenger in the small SUV class
YOU do not have to drive very far in Northern Ireland - or indeed anywhere in Europe - to realise that SUVs and crossovers are taking over the roads, writes William Scholes.
People love them. They love their raised driving position and the sense of safety that brings; they love the airy interiors and the feeling of spaciousness and practicality that they bestow, thanks to bodies that are boxier and more upright than the comparable hatchback.
We love them and cannot get enough of them. The latest figures show that SUVs of all sizes now account for 34 per cent of all new cars registered across Europe.
This is miles ahead of what either the previously dominant small hatchback - cars like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa - or the family hatch - Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and their ilk - classes can muster.
Manufacturers love them too. Because they share the underpinnings of whatever hatchback they are based on, they also use the same engines, gearboxes, suspension, heating systems and infotainment - all the stuff, in other words, that costs them money to design, develop and build.
And because customers think they are getting a bigger car than the hatchback, saloon or even estate that they could have bought, they are prepared to pay more for their SUV and crossover - yielding potentially higher profits.
No wonder that almost two-thirds of the new models being launched these days are SUVs.
It sounds like a win-win; punters get the sort of car they want, and the manufacturers get to flog profitable vehicles that haven’t cost them much to develop.
Presumably the rapid growth of the SUV will have to plateau at some stage.
For now, though, it the ‘small SUV’ segment that is booming. Europe’s best-seller is the Renault’s Clio-based Captur, which was one of the first to arrive, with the Dacia Duster and Citroen C3 Aircross also performing strongly.
Another to establish itself is today’s featured car, the Vauxhall Crossland X.
The Crossland is less overtly 'SUV' than either of those cars, tilting more towards an MPV-style approach in its styling as well as its focus on offering useful transport for small families.
OnStar includes safety aids, such as automatic crash response and round-the-clock emergency assistance, but importantly has a wifi hotspot - children and teenagers devoted to smartphones will love that
One might imagine that the Crossland X has a platform donated from another Vauxhall, such as the Corsa or even the Astra.
However, as with its larger Grandland X sibling, it shares its oily bits with a Peugeot, the 2008 in the Crossland’s case. The Grandland has parts from the 3008.
The French link-up means the Crossland X gets the effective 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines that you will find under the bonnets of Peugeot and Citroen models. It comes in 80bhp, 109bhp and 128bhp power outputs.
A 101bhp 1.5-litre diesel is your other engine choice. That only one diesel is offered is a further indication of the fuel’s decline in popularity.
The Crossland is front-wheel-drive and can be had with either five-speed or six-speed manual gearboxes, depending on the engine.
The cabin is airy and feels spacious, the high roofline meaning even those with 6ft-plus frames won’t be bumping their heads.
Depending on trim level, you can have back seats that slide fore and aft, allowing you to alter the ratio of boot space to rear legroom.
The boot itself is large and sensibly flat-sided, and you can get an adjustable floor to give more flexibility.
The back doors open wide and square, aiding the loading and unloading of small children. These practical things matter in a car with family duties in mind.
Vauxhall has been clever in fitting its OnStar connectivity package as standard.
OnStar includes safety aids, such as automatic crash response and round-the-clock emergency assistance, but importantly has a wifi hotspot - children and teenagers devoted to smartphones will love that.
There is a typically Vauxhall multitude of trim levels, rising from SE to TechLine Nav, SE Nav, Elite, Elite Nav to Ultimate.
Standard equipment on even the entry-level SE is strong.
The Crossland X’s cabin is airy and feels spacious, the high roofline meaning even those with 6ft-plus frames won’t be bumping their heads
In addition to OnStar, you will find climate control, 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.
The Vauxhall, then, does all the important things well; it is a car with strong showroom appeal for its target family audience.
Where it is least successful is as a car that offers any pleasure to the driver.
The 1.2-litre engine is a highlight, but the ride is too easily unsettled on the rougher parts of Northern Ireland’s road network and I found the clutch to be almost comically inconsistent - which does not make for an easy-to-drive car.
The Crossland’s dynamic shortcomings are all the more disappointing when you consider how well it goes about the rest of its business.
But if the niceties of how a car drives do not particularly matter to you, then the Crossland X is well worth a look for the sensible, value for money family transport it offers.
AT A GLANCE
The Crossland X is focused on offering useful transport for small families
Vauxhall Crossland X Elite 1.2T 130PS
Price: £19,950. As tested £22,375. Options included rear-view camera pack £455, 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 £565
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: £165 in first year, then £140 annually
Benefit in kind: 24 per cent
Euro Ncap safety rating: Five stars (85/84/62/57), 2017