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.
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.