Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive

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The small SUV/crossover market is busier than a waiting line at the pub on Friday night, and it’s just had another addition – the Vauxhall Crossland X. Sitting underneath the Mokka X, it’s the first car to be built on a PSA Groupe platform. This is means it has underpinnings that will be used for the next Citroen C4 and Peugeot 2008. It also uses PSA engines too, but the exterior look is still very much Vauxhall, which is by no means a bad thing as I think it’s a good looking motor.

Size does matter

From the outset, there is something that confuses me, and that is the car’s size. Take a good look at it. Now take a look at the Mokka X. Now, the Crossland X again, and now the Mokka X once more. Getting the tape measure out reveals that the length is almost the same – Mokka X has longer wheelbase though – there’s barely anything in it for width and the height isn’t much different either. On the plus side, you’re getting a car that is very similar in size to the Mokka X, but for less money.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive

What engines and equipment is on offer?

The choice of engines for the new Crossland X are far from extensive, so if you’re after plenty of choice, you may need to look elsewhere. If you’re willing to stick around, however, you’ll be able to choose from either a naturally aspirated 1.2 litre petrol (89bhp), a 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol which comes in either 108 or 128bhp power outputs, and lastly a 1.6 litre turbocharged diesel that offers either 98 or 118bhp.

The Crossland X comes in two wheel drive only, so if you’re looking for a four wheel drive SUV from Vauxhall, you’ll need to turn your attention to aforementioned Mokka X. Depending on the engine, you can either a 5-speed or 6-speed manual gearbox, but you’ll only be able to get the 6-speed automatic with the 108bhp 1.2 litre turbo unit.

Those looking for performance should look at the 128bhp petrol unit fitted to the model tested here, which will crack 62mph in under 12 seconds and will top out towards 130mph. If economy is what you’re after though, take a look at the 98bhp 1.6 litre diesel unit. This able to offer up to 76.3mpg on a combined run with 95g/km of CO2 emissions.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
The 1.2 litre petrol makes good progress but is somewhat ruined by the 6-speed manual that’s attached to it

In regards to trim levels, there are six trim levels; SE, SE Nav, Tech Line Nav, Elite, Elite Nav and Ultimate. SE is the base model and is priced from £16,555, with standard features such as 7″ touchscreen, climate control, 16″ alloys, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. The SE Nav (£17,255) adds to this with navigation, naturally.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
All models climate control, which is rather generous

The Tech Line Nav also include navigation as well as rear parking sensors, two tone roof, height adjustable boot floor, AGR approved front seats, and is priced from £16,650. The Elite is the model tested here, which is priced from £17,775, and has similar features to the Tech Line Nav, but adds 17″ alloys, a different seat design, but does away with navigation. The Elite Nav solves that problem though, and is priced from £18,445.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
The touchscreen is laid out nicely and it has a nice display

The Ultimate is the range-topping model and as a result goes all out with features such as wireless charging, safety pack, head-up display, premium LED lighting, and keyless entry, for a package that costs £21,945. Personally, I’d say the Tech Line Nav is the best for those looking for value for money.

What’s it like to drive?

The model tested had the more powerful 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol which makes faster progress than the 11.9 0-62 time would suggest. It’s a fizzy engine with lots of pep, although I’m not sure on the engine note, it just seemed coarse to me. There is, however, audible wastegate noise from the turbo which was unexpected but pleasurable. It’s a damn sight more pleasurable than the action provided by the 6-speed manual gearbox that’s attached to the engine.

It’s very notchy and it’s far from precise, leaving you with the impression you’re having to guess which gear you’re about to select. This is a real shame, as it really intrudes to the dynamics that the engine is able to offer. My other major complaint is the ride – it’s lumpy to say the least. It feels almost needlessly firm, which would be forgiven if the car has some decent handling. Sadly though, it doesn’t. There is still a good amount of body roll, and it makes you wonder what the role of the firm suspension setup is.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
If only the 6-speed had a better action

With a bit of work, I feel this could be a fun and enjoyable SUV to drive, but sadly the ride and the gearbox are noticeable flies in the ointment. Thankfully, the seats are nice and comfortable, plus the inside is a nice place to be. Having stepped in to this after being in the Corsas, I was able to see a step up in quality, so on this front, the Crossland X does well. All the switchgear has a nice feel to it and it’s laid out well, so there aren’t too many buttons to tackle.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
The inside is a pleasant place to be and is definitely one of the Crossland X’s highlights

Because it’s lack of poise and handling prowess, it’s safe to say the Crossland X is better for town driving, which let’s face it, will be it’s natural habitat. The engine makes overtaking a breeze and the car is easy to manoeuvre, so car parks and traffic jams should be a doddle thanks to light steering. The steering does get heavier as you go faster of course, and I found it to be rather direct although there was very little feedback to be had.

Is it ideal for families?

The target audience for the Crossland X are families, in fact the tagline on Vauxhall’s website is “Raising a family, and some eyebrows”. I’m not too sure on the ‘Pyjama Mamas’ advertising campaign, but that is merely my opinion. The Crossland X should be a good fit for family life, as it offers good cargo space with a boot capacity of 410 litres, which is more than the Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
The majority should be able to get comfortable in the rear, although taller passengers may want more headroom

This can be increased to 1,255 if you fold the rear seats down though, and you’ll get an adjustable boot floor if you go for Tech Line Nav models are above. Space in the back is pretty good too – there was an agreeable amount of legroom for my 6’2″ frame, although anyone taller than me may struggle for headroom. The majority, however, should find space in the rear absolutely fine, although a middle headrest would have been a nice addition.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive
The Crossland X offers a bigger boot than the Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur

Not only should the Crossland X provide enough space for families, but it will keep your loved ones safe as it offers six airbags as standard and there are a good level of safety systems too. The Crossland X is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s likely to do well, especially as the Grandland X has been given the full 5 stars.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive

Final Thoughts

I had rather high hopes for the Crossland X, but I’m afraid it did not live up to them. This is an SUV that could be enjoyable to drive if it wasn’t for the woefully notchy gearchange and a ride that wants to shake you up like a cocktail. Ok, that’s harsh, but you simply cannot escape the lumpy ride that is most unwelcome.

On the plus side, the engine offers strong performance and the inside a pleasant place to be, but that’s not enough to save the Crossland X I’m afraid. The Crossland X then perhaps a learning exercise, after all, this is the first car to be made since the PSA took over the former GM-owned brand. Let’s hope there’s better things to come from the PSA chapter of Vauxhall, maybe the Grandland X will prove to be a better effort.

Vauxhall Crossland X First Drive

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