► Vauxhall’s facelifted entry-level crossover
► Updated front end looks cleaner
► A value choice that’s easy to drive
We wonder if someone in product planning mixed things up.
The Vauxhall Crossland, shod of its ‘X’ tag, arrives as a facelift to usher in 2021. It’s a mid-life refresh of the old Crossland X, and hardly the most exciting way to introduce the company’s striking new front-end styling, which the marketing folk have named the ‘Vauxhall Vizor’ – especially considering the far more interesting and all-new Mokka is but weeks away.
Ah well, consider this a blip in what has been a remarkable, if slightly rocky, turnaround for Vauxhall’s fortunes in the UK. The once perpetual GM loss-maker is now an island of profitability in Stellantis’s sprawling empire, as some very capable Peugeot-based products are being rolled out. But hold on a second – isn’t the Crossland Peugeot-based? Well, yes, but it harks back to the GM-owned Vauxhall, and is based on the previous-generation 2008, launched back in 2013.
The biggest change to the Crossland is that Vauxhall Vizor front panel – and it does work. Okay, it’s no looker in the way a Renault Captur or Ford Puma is, but it at least looks modern and distinctive and comes with LED headlights as standard across the range. The rear gets a similar treatment, with its Crossland badge laid out across the tailgate. Standard equipment is generous, and showroom appeal should be broadened by the addition of a sportier SRi version.
How does it drive?
Inoffensively is probably the best way of saying it. Keen helmsmiths might find the Crossland dynamically challenged, but that’s probably missing the point. Vauxhall says the Crossland gets tighter damping and uprated suspension to quell the previous model’s bodyroll and lack of precision, but for drivers looking to shuttle their families around, it’s safe and sound and doesn’t display any bad habits. However, it remains some way shy of the class standard.
We sampled the Crossland SRi in 128bhp form, and although the primary ride is acceptable on its 17-inch wheels, get it on anything less than super-smooth roads and it feels fidgety and unsettled. Handling is very much what you’d expect – it pitches and wallows in corners and dives under braking, which is far from unique in the B-SUV market sector. Seems those handling upgrades haven’t done a great deal.
Positives include its precise steering and excellent gearchange, which is quick and light, and perfectly judged for its market sector. The automatic version’s old-school selector comes as a bit of a surprise, but otherwise the controls offer more than enough feedback and precision.
The heart of the SRi 130 we’re driving is its excellent 1.2-litre PureTech engine, which is as good here as it is in all the places you’ll find it. It’s available in six-speed manual and automatic forms, and in terms of outright pace it’s capable enough, with a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds (9.9 for the auto) and a maximum speed of 125mph. It always feels responsive and keen to leap off the line if you’re in the mood and settles back to a smooth and easy drive around town when you’re not. High-speed cruising on the motorway is also fuss-free, although a certain choppiness about its ride means it never really settles down.
Practicality and equipment
Vauxhall knows this is no class-leader and has priced and equipped the Crossland accordingly. The range kicks off from £19,060 for the entry-level SE model, and in that package you get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with air-con, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers and LED headlights. There’s also a fair bit of safety kit thrown in, too, with lane departure warning and speed sign recognition propping up the equipment tally.
As a car for small families, it works well. Head- and legroom are both generous, and the boot one of the larger ones for your money at up to 520 litres with the rear seats up and 1255 with them down. There are also personalisation options, with multiple colours on offer along with a contrasting roof colour.
Vauxhall Crossland: verdict
Four years on from the launch of the original Crossland X, this one – shorn of its X and with some styling tweaks – doesn’t really move the game on. The new ‘Vauxhall Vizor’ means that it stands out more than its chubby-looking predecessor, at the very least.
But it’s essentially a holding pattern until the next Crossland, based on contemporary tech, rocks up in a couple of years’ time. Back in 2017, we concluded: ‘It isn’t a car that makes you yearn to take it for a spin… and while we wouldn’t buy one, we suspect quite a lot of people might.’ Four years on and it’s more of the same, except we know it didn’t sell as well as Vauxhall had hoped, and the opposition in the B-SUV sector has moved on significantly, leaving this one an also-ran.
Would we buy a Crossland? No. Does that make it a bad car? Also, no. But you can do a whole heap better by looking elsewhere.