Vauxhall, as you’ve probably noticed, is living in interesting times. General Motors Europe, of which it is a part, has not been profitable for many years, and one explanation for this is that it has been behind the curve in providing SUVs to its customers. Whatever you may think of this, there’s no doubt that the company is starting to catch up.
In what the industry terms the SUV B sector (compact SUVs to the rest of us) it already had the Mokka X, and it’s in the process of launching the longer and wider but slightly lower Crossland X which is aimed at buyers who value practicality above off-road ability. For example, unlike the Mokka, it’s not available with four-wheel drive.
The Crossland X is built on the same platform and uses the same engines as the smaller Peugeot 2008, though this has nothing to do with Peugeot owner the PSA Group’s recently announced buyout of GM Europe – the first arrangement predates the second by a long way.
Nor is this of any direct significance to the customer. Just because two cars share a platform does not mean they are recognisably similar in other ways. The Crossland X looks quite different, sharing some styling features with the ADAM supermini, and does away with Peugeot’s characteristic small, low-set steering wheel and high-mounted instrument panel. There is also, as we’ll see, a big contrast in what they’re like to drive.
Vauxhall claims 410 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats in place, though if you specify the sliding rear seat option on the Crossland X you can increase this to 520 litres. Seats down, the figure is 1255 litres. When they’re in their normal configuration, the Crossland X has a bit more space for rear passengers as long as there isn’t a monster sitting ahead of them, which there very well might be. I’m over six feet tall, yet the driver’s seat can be set so far back that it’s almost impossible for me to operate the car. I don’t personally know any seven-footers but I have no doubt that they could make themselves reasonably comfortable up front.
Three Peugeot engines are used in six different forms. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol one is offered with maximum of outputs of 109 and 129bhp, the non-turbo version produces up to 80bhp while the 1.6 diesel comes with either 98 or 118bhp.
The less powerful diesel with manual transmission and 16″ wheels has fuel economy and CO2 figures of 78.5mpg and 93g/km (the latter not as useful as it once was now that CO2 emissions are no longer directly related to Vehicle Excise Duty charges) but despite this customers are expected to prefer the 109bhp petrol engine. Having driven that and the 129bhp version I wouldn’t say that the extra power gives much benefit in everyday driving.
The diesel is significantly noisier, though not offensively so, and it seems to suit the Crossland X better. In general, the car can be a bit wobbly on country roads in a way that the 2008 isn’t, as if the centre of gravity were higher than it actually is, but the effect is less obvious in the diesel cars.
Since the Crossland X is in no sense a sporty car this is not a major problem, though it can be slightly irritating. Much more serious is the fact that the handbrake button sticks out of the top of the lever rather than the front. There is no obvious reason for this, and it makes operating the brake far too complicated since you have to push down on the button while pulling the lever up.
There are three basic trim levels called SE, Tech Line Nav and Elite, plus Nav versions of the SE and Elite with satellite navigation. Even the SE is quite well-equipped, with electronic climate control, cruiser control, LED daytime running lights, front foglights, DAB digital radio, hill start assist, an IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system and Vauxhall’s OnStar system which provides a smartphone app (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a 4G wifi hotspot, automatic crash response and assistance in the event of either a breakdown or the vehicle being stolen.
Other available features include a 180-degree rear view camera, advanced park assist, autonomous emergency braking, a two-tone colour scheme and forward collision alert with pedestrian detection.
Prices start at £16,555 for the 80bhp non-turbo 1.2 SE and rise to £21,380 for the 118bhp diesel Elite Nav. The only standard colour is Royal Blue – Summit White and Lava Red both cost £285, while the premium for everything else (including Satin Steel, the lighter of the two metallic grey options, which I think works best in conjunction with a black roof) is £555.