Vauxhall’s compact crossover aims to carve out a niche independent from the Mokka X. Can the Crossland X succeed?

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Vauxhall took its time introducing a crossover when its rivals were busy launching theirs.

But after bringing the Vauxhall Mokka – since updated and rebranded as the apparently more rugged sounding Vauxhall Mokka X – to the market, the company has found its feet, and its latest introduction is a compact crossover of a slightly different mould: the new Vauxhall Crossland X.

Trademark Vauxhall rear lights are rather more racy-looking than the car around them

Since 2012, more than 120,000 Mokkas have been sold and now Vauxhall just can’t help itself, to the extent that it will put two more relatively compact crossovers on sale this year.

This, the Vauxhall Crossland X, is the first. The second, the Vauxhall Grandland X, will be larger than its siblings. Market overkill?

No, says Vauxhall, but on paper the space between the Mokka X and Crossland X appears very slender indeed. The Crossland X is the smaller of the two, but it is the shorter by only 63mm.

Luton’s justification is that the Mokka X has more premium allure than its stablemate. The Mokka X can be had with large alloy wheels and four-wheel drive, and is pitched as a rival to the Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti.

The Crossland X, meanwhile, is front-wheel drive only and has the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 in its sights. This new Vauxhall shares its underpinnings with the latter as part of a technology-sharing agreement that preceded Peugeot’s parent company, PSA Group, buying a controlling stake in Opel-Vauxhall from General Motors.

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The Crossland X is a competitively priced proposition. The range starts at £16,555 for a low-powered 1.2-litre petrol version and rises to £21,380 for the most expensive 1.6-litre diesel model.

Our test car was equipped with the highest-powered 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which makes 128bhp and drives through a six-speed manual gearbox. In its high Elite specification, the list price is £19,395, although the options fitted to it raise that to £22,375.

So is there sufficient room for Vauxhall to grow further in the crossover market? Let’s find out.


Vauxhall Crossland X rear

The Crossland X’s platform has come from PSA, and although that means there are elements to the car’s proportions that aren’t traditionally Vauxhall-like, the car has enough of Vauxhall’s core design elements to prevent you from mistaking it as a car from somebody else.

Cues from other Vauxhalls have been integrated to make sure that’s the case. The design treatment of the roof around the rear three-quarters closely references that of the Vauxhall Adam gives buyers the opportunity to have the roof a different colour from the body.

It’s nice to have a manual handbrake, but the flimsy one in the Crossland X feels like you could yank it off. The quality of materials in the cabin is mixed — and the handbrake is a low point

The bodysides, which otherwise might have been too slab-sided for Vauxhall’s relatively sophisticated design style, have been made to look a bit more racy by Vauxhall’s sculpting, which employs a style we first saw on the previous-generation Insignia, where they added some dynamism and made it look more rear-drive.

And the relatively bluff front end has received a Vauxhall grille and headlights to reasonable effect. But Vauxhall thinks the Mokka X is the more premium proposition and, in appearance, we’d agree.

The engineering is as straight as you’d expect at this size and class. The Crossland X is only 4.2m long, barely longer than some superminis, and it gets a steel monocoque basis. It tipped our scales at 1287kg.

At the front, it’s suspended by MacPherson struts, with a torsion beam at the rear. Petrol engines are three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo units, badged Ecotec but fundamentally the same as PSA’s units. They can be had in 80bhp, 108bhp and 128bhp guises, mated to five-speed (80bhp) or six-speed manual gearboxes, with an automatic optional.

Then there are two diesel engines, both 1.6s, which offer either 98bhp or 118bhp.

The rest is mostly as you’d expect. There’s stop/start and electric power steering but, to Vauxhall’s credit, more active safety and security features – albeit some of them options – than you’ll find on many of the Crossland X’s rivals.


Vauxhall Crossland X interior

The Crossland X neatly avoids the pitfall that so many small crossovers stumble into in as much as it’s roomy enough inside to be an alternative to a normal five-door hatch.

If you want to give rear passengers as much leg room as they’ll find in, say, a Vauxhall Astra, you’ll have to take advantage of the opportunity to sit more upright than you would in the bigger sibling, but you needn’t otherwise.

I tend to turn off camera-based lane-keeping systems, but the Crossland X’s reactivates with every restart. The first time it beeps, it’s frustrating, but then what good is a safety system that you can disable permanently?

The driver’s seat is comfortable if a bit flat but it offers lots of vertical base height adjustment, so you can sit with your scalp either close to the headlining with a good view all round, or much lower and feel more like you’re in a conventional five-door hatchback.

There’s good head room even for taller adults in the back seats, although three adults would be a squeeze back there. Leg room is only about adequate. It may be better with the Crossland X’s sliding rear bench, but that comes only as part of a £300 option pack – and our test car didn’t have it.

On boot space, the Vauxhall does a very competitive but not outstanding job, according to our tape measure, putting itself ahead of the Mazda CX-3 but being beaten narrowly by the Suzuki Vitara.

Again, if the marketing spin is that you’re getting hatchback space in a cleverer package, it’s a small fib: an Astra has narrowly more loading length and width although, predictably, there’s more loading height available in the Crossland X.

You do get a variable-height boot board, though, allowing split-level storage, should you want it.

Casting an eye around the cabin’s fixtures and fittings reveals switchgear you’ll recognise from both PSA’s parts shelves (window switches, pedals, interior door handles) and Opel-Vauxhall’s (headlight controls, column stalks, heater controls).

The upshot is an interior that’s a mish-mash of fonts, grains and finishes, and that has a handful of quietly classy and stylish touches but just as many hard, shiny plastics. The overall impression of the cabin is agreeable and inoffensive, with a good ergonomic layout and instruments that are visible and readable – and you can’t say all of that about a Peugeot 2008.

Vauxhall’s OnStar — billed as ‘your personal onboard assistant’ — and 4G wi-fi hotspot features are big draws for both the Astra and the Insignia, but although it may sound the same, what you get in the Crossland X isn’t quite equivalent.

Whereas the Crossland X’s sibling models effectively come with their own data connection, you have to supply your own here.

Vauxhall gives you a 7.0in IntelliLink colour touchscreen with DAB radio, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and voice control as standard. You can upgrade to an 8.0in set-up fitted with satellite navigation and an extra USB input point for £710.

A premium six-speaker audio system (with a sub-woofer) and wireless phone charging are additional options.

The navigation system’s mapping is better than that found in plenty of Peugeots and Citroëns and destinations are particularly easy to set. Bluetooth call functionality was hit and miss in our test car, but Apple CarPlay worked well. 


1.2-litre Vauxhall Crossland X engine

We’re now well used to PSA’s 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine in various Peugeots, Citroëns and DSs, where it commonly seems a slightly uncouth but likeably strong and characterful motor.

Credit to Opel-Vauxhall’s powertrain engineers, then, for better masking the tremulous edge of the 128bhp unit’s combustion than some of their new French counterparts have, and making it run a bit more smoothly and quietly in the Crossland X than it does elsewhere.

Roll gathers fairly gradually around corners but the car stays relatively true to its line when at full lean

The Vauxhall settles to a fairly muted idle and it doesn’t shimmy or vibrate to its engine’s peculiar beat as markedly as some of its relations do.

It’s a shame, therefore, that fact doesn’t make this car worthy of recommendation in a broader sense.

Vauxhall’s claim is to be courting more mature, comfort-orientated crossover customers here than it has with the Mokka X, but those customers won’t be particularly impressed with the Crossland X’s roaring, occasionally clunky ride (more of which shortly) or by the amount of wind noise rustling around its door mirrors and creeping around its door seals. Cabin isolation is pretty average.

After refinement, drivability and economy will likely matter most to those in the market for this sort of car – and both of those are good, although neither is outstanding.

The power delivery has remarkable low and mid-range torque, as evidenced by its ability to get from 30mph to 70mph in fourth gear almost as quickly as it will if you rev it out through second and third, and the fact that it hit 100mph in fourth, fifth and sixth within a measured mile during our in-gear acceleration runs.

Because it’s a three-cylinder unit, the motor also revs quite sweetly and likes to be worked hard. But the throttle response is sufficiently soft at low and middling revs as to make the car feel like it’s surging off in a quite unpredictable fashion at times – at least until you get used to waiting for a second or so after any given pedal application before the engine’s response is fully delivered.

A longer gearlever, together with what we’d guess is closer attention paid during the car’s dynamic tuning, gave our Crossland X’s six-speed manual gearbox a slightly lighter, slicker and more pleasant shift feel than we’ve found in PSA models with this engine in the past but it’s a marginal gain only.


Vauxhall Crossland X cornering

The Crossland X has an averagely sized steering wheel with what we might consider a ‘bog-standard’ three full turns of pace on its rack – and in both respects, it’s a different sort of drive than the Peugeot Peugeot 2008 or its Peugeot 208, both of which are related to the Vauxhall by platform.

It’s a car with a soft-riding gait (albeit not quite as soft as that of the Citroën C3 Picasso or C4 Cactus), a respectable outright grip level, a decent but far from encouraging kind of handling response, and steering that is light and undemanding but also feels vague, elastic and disconnected – and it isn’t immune from corruption by traction-related forces running up through the suspension from the front tyres.

Long-travel, under-damped suspension allows the car to part company with the road over the jumps without very much speed at all

You can appreciate that Vauxhall’s aim was to produce something comfortable, manoeuvrable, easy to use and secure, but you’ll also note that it has missed its target in a least a couple of respects.

On a well-surfaced road, the car is certainly compliant and yet it has adequate close body control, along with decent high-speed stability and just about enough steering centre feel to make motorway journeys pain-free.

If not for the cabin noise levels referred to earlier, the Crossland X would be a moderately talented long-distance cruiser.

But few UK roads are sufficiently well surfaced to prevent the car’s ride deteriorating into a slightly stodgy, gentle, high-speed fidget over smaller bumps, with bigger ones bringing out enough body pitch and head toss to become noticeable.

Sharper intrusions can cause quite a nasty thump through the suspension, too, for which our test car’s 17in alloy wheels and 50-profile tyres cannot be entirely blamed. Instead, it would seem to hint at an underlying shortage of sophistication and tuning potential in the Crossland X’s suspension with which neither the latest Vauxhall Astra nor the Vauxhall Insignia suffered with.

The elastic lightness and vagueness of the car’s steering isn’t enough to make it tricky to place on the road or to guide through a corner, but it does discourage you from seeking much engagement from
the driving experience and it can make your progress away from T-junctions a little ragged.

The Crossland X can cope with being hustled through a series of bends, but it’s not a car that surprises you with an unexpected sporting edge or even a modicum of driver reward. Such dynamic virtues are uncommon among small crossover hatchbacks, but not completely unknown.

The car rolls fairly hard through a tight corner, although its rate of roll is controlled and its lean angle isn’t allowed to undermine its balance of grip or its handling stability too much. Vauxhall’s electronic traction and stability controls can be switched out at low speeds but automatically reactivate above about 20mph. That’s to be approved of because they’re broadly effective yet unobtrusive.

Through compressions and across transverse ridges, the car seems to pitch fore and aft more than rivals. Otherwise, the Crossland X’s handling is stable and composed.


Vauxhall Crossland X

The majority of sales will be made up of private buyers, but those wary of Vauxhall’s traditionally unfavourable rates of depreciation can relax a little.

Early data shows that the Crossland X is likely to retain around 40 percent of its original value after three years of typical ownership, which is better than most rivals in the class. That, as well as its generous equipment list, should soften the blow of its list price.

Vauxhall’s fresher status is enough to beat its Peugeot cousin on projected value but its Suzuki rival is stronger still

However, it is better equipped than competitors on a like-for-like basis.

As standard in SE spec, the Crossland X gets alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system. Each trim gets a Nav variant, which, if you hadn’t guessed, adds sat-nav (and saves you a whole £10 compared with speccing it in the options list of a trim without it).

In our opinion the SE trim level will suit most private buyers, because the upgrades for top-spec Elite are mainly cosmetic, and Tech Line Nav caters for the fleet market with smaller wheels and lots of kit but probably not many discounts or attractive PCP deals.

Other trims offer a better chance of getting money off, but if you’re hoping to benefit from Vauxhall’s usual hefty discounting, you may have to hold tight. There’s no immediate plan to generously slash money from the list price.

It shouldn’t cost too much to run, with all engines proving to be as efficient as those of rivals. Company car buyers will get the best value from the 98bhp 1.6-litre diesel, but don’t expect it to deliver thrills.


3 star Vauxhall Crossland X

We’re yet to find an outstanding compact crossover hatchback, and the Vauxhall Crossland X gets us little closer.

The original Skoda Yeti remains the closest thing to inspiration where this increasingly popular but still maturing breed is concerned.

Typically practical and well priced, but Vauxhall can do better

The Yeti is about to be replaced by something quite different, but it nevertheless comes closest to combining the charm, space, capability and value that the idea of a downsized hatchback-cum-SUV promises.

The Crossland X is about level with the Yeti on practicality and marginally beats it on interior flexibility and value, but it’s an undistinguished addition to the class in other ways.

Although it’s competent to drive, it fails to conjure a compelling selling point at either end of the dynamic spectrum; and its creditable turbo petrol engine is also not without flaws.

Being more spacious and better equipped than the class average gets the Crossland X part of the way towards success, but the mechanical substance, apparent quality and dynamic finish of this car aren’t equal to what we’ve seen from the Vauxhall Astra and Insignia.

Only time will tell if Vauxhall’s future within the PSA Group can produce better. For the time being, the Crossland X only makes it to fourth in our top five list ahead of the Suzuki Vitara, but behind the Mazda CX-3, the Renault Captur and the formidable Skoda Yeti.

Vauxhall Crossland X 2017-2020 First drives