Vauxhall Crossland X
Mini SUV is a solid family option but lacks finesse behind the wheel
Vauxhall label the Crossland X as an SUV, but you only need to be in its presence for a minute or two before you realise this is nothing of the sort. Look past the alloy-effect skid plates that try to give the Crossland X a sense of ruggedness and you’ll soon see this is an MPV on stilts.
For starters, there’s no four-wheel drive here. Instead, the Crossland X is driven by its front wheels and comes with a choice of PSA-derived engines, including two diesels, a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol and three turbocharged petrol units, also 1.2-litres and ranging from 80bhp to 128bhp.
We tested the 128bhp version, which is actually quite a fun and rorty little powerplant in its turbo three-cylinder format. You can really fly along in this guise, but while Vauxhall has managed to keep the engine fairly hushed for a three-pot, there were a few noticeable vibrations coming through the wheel at low revs.
Our vehicle came with the six-speed manual, although a five-speed manual and six-speed auto are available elsewhere in the range. The six-speed manual is not the slickest or most precise, but then neither was it unsatisfying to use.
On the move the Crossland X feels light, with equally light steering, meaning the urban environment is where it excels. Tackle roundabouts or twisty B-roads, though, the Crossland X exposes its lack of body control, leaning a fair amount and losing composure when pushed. It can fidget about underneath you and traction can break at the front or rear rather too easily. But if you’re looking to drive like a lunatic then you’re missing the point, because the Crossland X is actually a very good family car.
Its proportions have been used to good effect, with large windows to help bring light into the cabin. The doors feel solid, but not heavy and, in the front especially, they feature useful door bins. The materials being used around the cabin, along with the layout of the dash itself, are both good. Controls are neat and compact, while the upgraded 8” touchscreen is clear and easy enough to use, if not quite as sharp in its reactions.
Interestingly, Vauxhall has provided its OnStar feature as standard across the range, which is essentially an onboard assistant, enabling the Wi-Fi hotspot function, automatic crash response and roadside assistance, among other things.
There is more good stuff to behold in the cabin, too, like the heightened comfy seats that have several different ways of adjusting, so finding a suitable driving position is easy, especially with the height and reach adjustable steering wheel.
The back seats also have their merits, like the tethers that make it a piece of cake to fold them, while the whole back bench slides to suit passengers or boot space depending on circumstance. This is an optional feature, I might add, but one worth ticking. There’s also a boot floor splitter standard with most trim levels, which can be dropped to create extra space or kept raised to generate a flat loadspace alongside the folded rear seats.
Perhaps the only gripe in the cabin is the handbrake, which is awkward to release and rubs against the armrest when raised – an electric handbrake button would fix this.
We tested the range-topping Ultimate, priced at £24,575 with options, but there are more reasonably priced models below. The Tech Line Nav, for instance, starts from £17,810 and still gives you the upgraded 8” touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus an extra USB charging port. Add in the rear-parking sensors, automatic LED lights and wipers, the Flex Floor divider and a front camera system that monitors traffic signs and this could well be all you need.
A Safety Pack throws in forward collision alert and autonomous braking, while the Versatility Pack is worth a tick, too. Our 128bhp version achieved around 40mpg, but you could opt for the 108bhp version instead. Either way, the Crossland X is a decent family solution, if not quite as polished on the open road as some of its rivals.