There is no doubt that the Vauxhall Crossland X is a far more enticing proposition than the outgoing Meriva. Keen to shakeoff some of that image, the Crossland is a far younger affair, and far more attractive at that. There are neat lines and striking symbols that don’t necessarily denote outright SUV capability. The rear pillars, for example, are more akin to the Vauxhall Adam and that doesn’t look like a mistake. This car makes sense, Vauxhall says, because is fills a gap for the brand in the small SUV sector targetted at young families with active lifestyles.
First thing’s first, the Crossland X shares most of its parts with the Peugeot 2008. Thankfully, it also shares its engines, and I was lucky enough to test probably the best of the bunch in the more powerful version of the 1.2 in 130ps guise. Vauxhall are expecting the turbo petrols to sell well and in this top of the range version I tested, it is also twinned with a 6-speed gearbox.
The engines across the board are strong. Peugeot’s offerings here are already determined to be pretty excellent in their 2008, and the turbo models especially have a good pull to them and appear lightweight and dynamic. They’re punchy and quiet with relatively ‘normal’ town driving and the odd dual-carriageway cruise.
The driving is indeed quiet and refined, despite Vauxhall having no shortage of competitors for that accolade in this particular sector. Inside it is comfortable and I was surprised to find a number of comfort options like heated seats available on most models. The driving experience itself is slightly let down by a notchy gearbox, and it won’t thrill in the handling department – like many of these cars the steering is vague and in many ways, it doesn’t do the car’s quite excellent engine and spaciousness justice.
The bumpy stuff – I didn’t find the Crossland X to be particularly comfortable when it came to riding out the potholes or creases in the road. It was uncertain and jumpy, and didn’t have the planted feel it did when it was cruising. That’s largely thanks to taller springs and the raised ride height, but it is disconcerting nonetheless.
There’s clearly been an attempt by Vauxhall here to fit the Crossland X into the younger family market. Unlike the 4×4 Mokka, which brands itself as a more out and out SUV, the Crossland X promotes an active family lifestyle with a huge range of great practical options. The length and height of the car helps with this, as does the boot space which is certainly one of the best size wise out there. It’s a well designed car, with its strength being comfort, driving position and practicality over driving fun.
The Crossland X is a good stab at taking an MPV and making it something that younger families with children would be interested in. It is likely to become a mainstay of British roads, and I feel like the average British family will like its focus on comfort, practicality and kit over any sense of performance or refined driving characteristics. Having said that, it’s quiet and unobtrusive, not offensive in the way it performs and provides an average family with tons of space inside. As a car I preferred the Mokka, but if I had a lot of stuff to transport, the Crossland X makes a lot of sense.