New compact crossover scores for practicality and kit, but its drive disappoints
It may seem odd for an automaker to launch a new model seemingly directly up against an existing car, but that’s what you could be forgiven for thinking Vauxhall has done with its Crossland X. The newcomer has a virtually identical physical footprint to the established and recently updated Mokka X, so any resultant confusion would be understandable.
However, there is method to the manufacturer’s madness. It has pitched the Crossland X at a different market to the bigger-wheeled, 4×4-optioned, more aggressively styled Mokka. Instead, the newcomer is less conventional SUV, more compact crossover, with front-wheel drive only, 16 or 17-inch wheels and a higher degree of practicality.
Vauxhall Crossland X 1.2T 110 Ecotech SE
Engine: 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol
Torque: 151lb ft
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 117mph
CO2/tax band: 109g/km/20%
Under an existing engine-sharing arrangement, the Crossland X uses Peugeot/Citroën (PSA) 1.2-litre petrol and 1.6 diesel motors. Surely a glimpse of things to come… We tried the lively and willing mid-range 108bhp/151lb ft 1.2 petrol, which is unfortunately let down by a vague five-speed manual that could do with another gear on the motorway.
B-road battles are hard fought but ultimately lost thanks mainly to the body roll, road bump transmission and a dearth of steering feedback, but that light feel pays off in town where it helps with parking and traffic dodging. Visibility out is great, thanks mainly to the high seating position.
This compact crossover is, of course, super-practical. The cabin can comfortably carry four adults, while the 410-litre boot capacity knocks the Mokka’s into a cocked hat. For an additional £300, the Versatility Pack introduces sliding and 40/20/40 folding rear seats. Every model gets alloys, cruise and dual-zone climate control, plus touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An optional safety pack brings autonomous emergency braking and a drowsy-driver detector, among other things. Aside from the cheap-feeling handbrake, the cabin trim fit and finish is good, and the hardish plastics are par for the course in this class.
Unlike the disappointing driving experience, we have no complaints about the newcomer’s economy, which is a claimed 70mpg for the diesel and 50mpg-plus for the petrols.
Ultimately, the Crossland X gives its Mokka stablemate a run for its money for size, cabin space, practicality, kit and cost, but it comes in higher priced than even mid-spec versions of Nissan’s Juke, Peugeot’s 2008 or Suzuki’s Vitara. There are also contenders that are more fun to drive, such as the Mazda CX-3, or, as with the Renault Captur, more comfortable and quieter when cruising at speed.