First Drive: Vauxhall Crossland X
Compact SUVs are big business, to the point where Vauxhall has decided to can its small MPV, the Meriva, in favour of this – the new Crossland X SUV.
What is it?
As the Meriva's indirect replacement, the Crossland X sits underneath the Zafira Tourer and alongside the slightly larger Mokka X in Vauxhall's range. The Crossland X is unashamedly all about function over form, however, with styling taking a backseat to practicality. It offers plenty of space, an easy drive, and makes for a conventionally-styled alternative to the growing parade of fashion-first SUVs on the market.
The Crossland X is totally new to Vauxhall. Though it shares plenty of its styling with cars like the latest Insignia and the Mokka X SUV, it actually sits on a platform developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen – which means the oily bits are broadly the same as those that underpin cars like the Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Picasso.
That means, while the chassis, engines, and gearboxes are new to the Vauxhall range, they're all well-proven elsewhere in the Peugeot and Citroen ranges.
What's under the bonnet?
The Crossland X is part of Vauxhall's new partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen, so the engine lineup is shared with cars like the Peugeot 2008. That means there's a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol in three different states of tune, and a 1.6-litre diesel in two states of tune.
We tested the 108bhp 'Puretech' 1.2-litre petrol. It sits in the middle of the petrol range and is likely to be one of the most popular options available.
It can take the car from 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds, and up to a top speed of 116mph. CO2 emissions are pegged at 111g/km, while fuel economy is a claimed 57.6mpg.
What's it like to drive?
With a high driving position, peppy turbocharged engine, great visibility and light controls, the Crossland X is a doddle to drive around town. It's simple to park and manoeuvre round a supermarket car park, and should find favour with drivers who do mostly local trips.
But those same traits are the car's downfall when you press on. The light steering doesn't inspire any confidence on motorways and A-roads, so there's no fun to be had in spirited cornering.
The soft suspension soaks up bumps and speed humps around town, but it's overly bouncy even for an MPV and you'll find yourself slipping out of the unsupportive seats on any bumpy road.
The 1.2-litre engine has a decent amount of power, but feels strained at motorway speeds, while we'd have liked a sixth gear for more relaxed cruising.
How does it look?
Vauxhall's 'family face' is carefully designed to be as inoffensive and generic as possible, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're not fussy about how your car looks.
Very few people would stretch to say the Crossland X is good looking, though, especially as you move towards the rear of the car. A styling line stretching between the rear windows and brake lights looks out of place, while the wheels seem too small for the size of the car.
What's it like inside?
Hard-wearing plastics should keep the Vauxhall Crossland X's interior looking shipshape for years to come, even when loaded down with kids and their clobber. However quality seems sub-par, even for such a cheap car – materials feel hard and scratchy, and the cloth seats are firm and unsupportive. There's no real sense of luxury, like there is in a Mazda CX-3.
Space is plentiful, though. Large adults will have no problems sitting in the back seats and the 410-litre boot is helpfully larger than the hatchback equivalent. Up front, there's a deep cubby in the centre console, a decent-sized glovebox, and a central cubby with enough space for all the family's bits and pieces.
What's the spec like?
What the interior lacks in luxury it makes up for with an impressive equipment roster. Our mid-spec SE car was decked out with 16-inch alloy wheels and smart LED daytime running lights, while inside it featured dual-zone climate control, cruise control and a seven-inch infotainment system.
Vauxhall's OnStar system also features. Not only will this contact the emergency services in the event of an accident, it also turns the car into a 4G WiFi hotspot. A 24-hour concierge service will book your car in for a service, diagnose faults and even remotely programme the sat-nav for you – a useful addition on the move.
Though nobody is going to tout the Crossland X as the best driver's car around, it disappointed us with its numb dynamics during our test. Other rivals are better to drive and offer more character.
Despite this, it's still impressively cheap to buy and run, and provides lots of space for a growing family. It's not a class-leader, but against rivals like the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, and Mazda CX-3, it's worth considering.
Model: Vauxhall Crossland X SE 1.2T 110PS ecoTEC S/S
Base price: £17,875
Engine tested: 1.2T ecoTEC
Max speed: 116mph
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds