Why it pays to get 'street wise' with new Opel Crossland X

The Crossland X is one of the less-pronounced Crossovers, I’m glad to say. That’s because it’s more a cross between people carrier and SUV.

Overview

I'm always telling people to take their time when buying a car. You'd be surprised how impetuous they get as soon as they've made up their mind to buy. They want it 'Now' and take so much at face value. Even though they might think they have their research done, they can shortcut on basic stuff.

Cars are tactile animals. You really need to touch, feel, drive and sit in them - for a long time. Not just up and down the road from the dealership. And not just on a smooth piece of tarmac if you can possibly manage it. I'm surprised at the number of people who contact me looking for advice on switching from their relatively new car. Why? "Because it doesn't suit us."

Typical me, though, I nearly ignored my own advice with the new Crossland X, the latest 'SUV/Crossover' from Opel. I was temporarily lulled into a false sense of smooth travelling.

The Crossland X is one of the less-pronounced Crossovers, I'm glad to say. That's because it's more a cross between people carrier and SUV. Certainly the cabin is strongly reminiscent of the MPV era. Maybe that is because it is based on the Peugeot 2008 SUV platform. It also uses Peugeot engines (more anon) but the design kudos, etc must go to Opel. All in all, a nice job on that front.

Hard to believe MPVs were all the rage once, isn't it? Now people turn up their noses at them. Will the same happen to crossovers in a few years? You'd never know. I doubt it somehow, but if there is one thing for certain in motoring it is constant change. The Crossland X is a pleasant looking motor, especially with the roof a different colour to the body. Neat, tidy and compact.

The cabin is cleanly efficient too, though I had to sit further back and lower than I'd like because of the large MPV-type bulky dash.

I'm not knocking it for that but it didn't suit me as much as I'd like because of the more forward driving position I prefer.

It's a car that is difficult to define, in ways, because it is supposed to be a slightly smaller brother to the Opel Mokka X. In reality there isn't that much between them. And I could argue the same on price. The only major distinction is that the Mokka X is more muscular to look at, a tad roomier, and more 'SUV' like inside. Rivals include the Peugeot 2008 SUV, Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Juke, etc.

By the way they are appending the letter X to all their crossovers and SUVs. A letter doesn't make a car a true SUV; neither does fancy design. But we're at a stage now, I fear, where we'll take the form and not worry too much about the substance in some cases.

Anyway, I'd driven the new Crossland X a fair bit on the motorway and smoother suburban roads and felt it quite smooth and comfortable. Much of my driving was on clear, clean tarmac.

But I was to be disappointed with how it played out on less smooth routes, especially in and around Dublin. I think the tyres on the 17ins wheel didn't help; neither did the suspension's/absorbers' inability to soak, and deal with, the ruts and scars you get on so many roads. It was an annoying trait because I expected a smoother run. I'm not going to jump up and down too much or let it overshadow what is a smart car, because I'd say different tyres would have softened the feel that frequently bordered on the clunky. But it just goes to show you how important it is to try out a car on as many road surfaces, and driving conditions, as possible. Which is why I like the idea of potential buyers taking a car for a day or two or a weekend. Buying a car is a massive commitment; give it time.

Let me recommend something else. Try this 1.6-litre diesel if you're topping 15,000km a year. It's a doozie, smooth as cream and capable, I'm convinced, of 4.5l/100kmh (60mpg). From the cobble-stone back-streets of inner Dublin to the historic, narrow windings of Wexford town it ticked over nicely. Here, I noted, was as strong an argument as any in favour of diesel.

Another plus is the ease of interaction with the infotainment system. At the risk of repeating myself, you need one thing with any new car's set of gadgets - time. There's plenty to learn for someone of my ignorant disposition anyway. Yet, to its credit the intuitive nature of the display meant I never put a finger wrong; the little icons are simple and clear. Why can't all displays be as simple and not involve layer after layer of cyber buttons?

Would I buy it? I'm not so sure, especially with my criticisms just outlined. But I will say this: If you need something to ferry your family around in something smart but low-key and user-friendly you could do a lot worse. I'd add a couple of extra plus-points if you need a diesel.

The Crossland X is not a world beater; it has its drawbacks. Which makes a proper try-out by you all the more important - to see if it 'fits' you.

FACTS & FIGURES

Opel Crossland X SE, 1.6-litre 120PS, 6spd; 4l/100km, 105g/km, road tax €190.

Range (petrol) from €21,995 (SC 1.2-litre); diesels from €23,495 (SE 1.6-litre). Car tested €29,320 including options.

Standard on test car: 17ins alloys, R 4.0 IntelliLink system, 3.5ins display, smartphone projection; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto; Wi-Fi hotspot for seven devices; Opel OnStar 'guardian angel', dual-zone climate control, auto cruise control, LED daytime running lights, electric/heated mirrors, front fogs, Flex Floor, lane departure warning, rear-parking sensors.

Options: sunroof, Lighting Pack, space-saver steel spare wheel 16ins (€150).

About the author

About The Author image for Eddie Cunningham
Eddie Cunningham

Motoring Editor Irish Independent. Read Eddie's articles first every Wednesday in the Irish Independent