Wednesday 22 November 2017

Opel doubles up with the new Crossland X mix of MPV/SUV

First drive in Venice: Opel Crossland X

Opel Crossland X
Opel Crossland X
The interior of the Opel Crossland X
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

You can't get too much of a good thing, they say, but sometimes I wonder.

Opel already have a compact SUV; it's called the Mokka X. Now they have a 'softer' crossover compact SUV called the Crossland X as well. It goes on sale in Ireland the first week of June ­- well in advance of the 172-reg period that starts July 1.

They worked hard trying to point out the reasons, and need, for two 'crossovers' in much the same segment. Here they are: The Mokka X costs more and looks more like an SUV. The Crossland X costs less and looks more like a large estate/MPV/crossover. But the Mokka X doesn't cost more (from €21,495 according to Opel's website). The Crossland X costs more: from €21,995 for the SC version. However, the Crossland X at that price is far better equipped, so maybe that's their distinction. They are correct to say it is less SUV-looking. But there is work to do to avoid confusion between the two. Rivals include the Peugeot 2008SUV, Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Juke etc.

Mention of the Peugeot is timely seeing as Opel are to become part of the PSA (Peugeot/Citroen group). However, the Crossland X was part of a collaboration that significantly preceded the takeover. It is based on the 2008 SUV platform (the next Citroen C4 gets it too) and uses Peugeot engines, but the outward design, cabin etc are largely Opel's.

A Grandland X, larger crossover based on the Peugeot 3008 SUV, is due by the end of the year. And of course there will be many more fruits of the venture.

For now the Crossland X takes centre stage. In its favour are a lot of cabin room, a substantial boot and a more people-carrier feel to the front. The 1.6-litre diesel will be the favourite, I imagine, and it was exactly as we expected over motorway and up some steep, windy roads in the Prosecco region of Italy near Venice. The 1.2-litre petrol (81bhp-130bhp) we subsequently drove was too rough for my liking and the 6spd automatic version was poor in the extreme (slow to respond and noisy). I'd avoid that.

Usually we laud these cars for their wonderful driving position. In this case, I had to sit too low because there is abysmal in-and-out-adjustment on the steering wheel. That pushed me further back in the cabin than I wished. Yet there was plenty of room in the rear seats.

Look, people don't buy cars like this for how they handle and drive so suffice to say that, apart from some body roll you'll always get from something whose centre of gravity is that bit higher, this had no major surprises.

There was okay steering feedback and it lacked real get-up-and-go but it was fine in its own way. As I say, who needs performance?

It is a neat package whose flattened crescent profile and inner space make it an alternative not just to rivals but to people carriers in general. It does, after all, replace the Opel Meriva - one of the grand little MPVs. Regard this as a crossover cocktail of MPV and SUV. If you want it that's fine; if you don't there is always the Mokka X which is, by the way, merely 63mm longer.

Some notable points: The rear 60/40 split seat row can be slid back and forth. The 410-litre boot can go to 1,255 litres with the rear seats folded down. And there are several little compartments.

As it is expected to be mainly driven in urban and suburban areas, they claim a tight turning circle. That was not my experience. It was moderate at best.

The new car comes with the OnStar 'guardian angel' service as standard. You can reach it 24/7 all-year round if you need roadside assistance or any other service. It also means your car becomes a 4G LTE mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (up to seven devices).

Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection is optional but worth considering I think.

They always stress to us about their ergonomically certified AGR seats - standard. I found the ones we had were too narrow and lacking support at the side. We drove high-spec models so here's hoping we get more practical support on what comes to Ireland.

Prices start, for the SC version, from €21,995. As well as OnStar you also get R 4.0 IntelliLink with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection and voice command; front camera with lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition camera; dual-zone climate control; electric windows; electric/heated mirrors; rain sensing wipers, 16ins alloys; LED daytime running lights; front fogs.

SE (from €23,495) adds: 17ins alloys, rear parking sensors, dark-tinted rear windows, Flex Floor.

The engine line-up for Ireland is: Petrol - 1.2 (82PS) 5spd manual; 1.2 (110PS) Turbo 6spd auto (that's the one I didn't like).

Diesels include: 1.6 (99PS) turbo ecoTEC 5spd manual; 1.6 (120PS) turbo 6spd (that's what we drove - and liked a lot).

The Crossland X is a nice package. It is less muscular than the Mokka X and that bit more family-friendly inside. The pricing set-up may confuse a bit but at least you have a good choice.

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