What is it?
“It’s an opportunity, not a risk,” according to Vauxhall.
Releasing a car that is marginally (by which we mean a whole 63mm) different in size to another car in its line-up may look like the result of a muddled thought process, but the Vauxhall Crossland X supposedly fulfils a different brief to the 'larger' Mokka X.
Built on a new PSA platform (Vauxhall's deal to use it predates PSA's takeover of Opel) that will also underpin the next Citroën C4, the Crossland X is only available with front-wheel drive and offers more interior space than the Mokka X, even though it's slightly smaller.
The Crossland X more of a mini-MPV than SUV - it is an indirect successor to the Meriva - whereas the Mokka X is more of the latter, but the Crossland X still rivals the same segment of cars that includes the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Suzuki Vitara.
Vauxhall believes the young family market looking for practicality and versatility will gobble up the Crossland X offering. It may prove to be right. After all, although the Mokka X is by all accounts a thoroughly disappointing car dynamically, it became one of the best-selling new cars in the UK.
For the Crossland X, the main lump of sales will come from retail buyers drawn in by low list prices, and the 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol will take the biggest portion of sales. This 1.6-litre entry-level diesel – which sits below the more powerful 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel – will be the most popular oil-burner, thanks to its appeal to the fleet market. We’re testing it in mid-spec Elite trim.
What's it like?
As a small SUV, the Crossland X fulfils many of the basic prerequisites. Space inside is fairly generous, and it has rivals beaten on boot space. It also has a decent driving position that offers plenty of adjustment.
It’s well equipped too, with Elite trim coming with 17in alloys, a touchscreen infotainment system and parking assistance. Although the interior is a bit drab and its materials won't trouble premium rivals, it is solidly put together.
If that hasn’t sealed the deal for you, there’s little hope that the Crossland X's driving dynamics will win you over. When we drove the 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol – which is expected to be the biggest seller – we found the engine to be reasonable but the car itself disappointing, with precious little feel through the steering wheel being a major drawback.
In this diesel model, the performance feels a lot flatter than the petrol. It’s slow off the mark from a standing start, and even when you keep it in the mid-range it never feels brisk. For low-speed town driving it’s fine though. It keeps up with traffic, has nicely weighted pedals and the engine isn’t too noisy either. The five-speed manual gearbox is quite vague, though.
Find a fast winding road and the ride becomes unsettled, and there’s a lot of body lean through the corners which, paired with extremely light steering with minimal feedback, hardly makes for confidence-inspiring handling.
If you’re considering this model, you’re probably most interested in the fuel economy, and it’s good news in that department. The 1.6-litre diesel matches or betters most of its rivals and should keep running costs (including company car tax bills) down.
Should I buy one?
In its class, the Crossland X majors on practicality, but it does little to stir the soul.
It is priced competitively against its rivals though, and is cheaper than the Mokka X. A similarly specced diesel-engined Juke is more expensive, and the Crossland X gets better fuel economy, too. The Captur also costs more, and is marginally less frugal. They both have more style and flair than the Crossland X, though, and are better to drive.
Fleet buyers will plump for this engine and its favourable fuel economy and Tech Line Nav, rather than Elite, is the best trim level to go for in that market – it keeps 16in alloys rather than 17in alloys and adds sat-nav as well. Low-mileage private buyers are far better off looking at the petrol options instead.
Vauxhall Crossland X 1.6T D 99 Ecotech Blueinjection Elite
Price £19,195 Engine 4 cyls, 1560cc, diesel Power 98bhp at 3750rpm Torque 187lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual Kerb weight na Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 12.0sec Economy 76.3mpg (combined) CO2/tax band 95g/km, 21% Rivals Nissan Juke; Renault Captur