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 from Peugeot’s iCockpit-generation 2008 or its 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 Citroën’s 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.
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 Astra nor the Insignia suffered.
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 fromthe 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.