In a bid to cash in on the continued popularity of SUVs and crossovers, the new Opel Crossland X combines rugged styling with what is otherwise a high riding compact MPV that is very much built for on-road driving.
In the metal
Those of you who will recall the Opel Meriva compact MPV will no doubt remember its unusual rear-hinged door. This time around the Crossland X - the Meriva's effective replacement - gets conventional doors, but its exterior styling is less so. Viewed side on it retains the silhouette of a small MPV, but Opel has given it more of an SUV-influenced exterior design, too. It is raised up, but only slightly, and isn't as tall as Opel's other B-segment player, the Mokka X. Chunky looking black plastic cladding along the base of the door, around the wheel arches and in the front and rear bumpers give it the impression of being ready to tackle muddy trails and the like.
Adding some sleekness to the appearance is an optional black contrasting roof, which is underlined by a chrome strip that runs from the leading edge of the A-pillar into the 'breakthrough C-pillar', where it meets the rear light. You can also choose to have the roof painted in white or left in the standard matching body colour.
Buyers will like the generous interior space front and rear. The Crossland X's dashboard is clearly laid out with the centre console divided into three sections according to function. This console, along with the seven-inch touchscreen (an eight-inch version is optionally available, but at the cost of €1,250), is tilted slightly towards the driver to improve the ease of use. While the overall design is good, some surfaces, namely the lower sections of the doors and centre console, have a hard and cheap feel to them.
Rear passenger space is adequate and is aided by the Crossland X's high roof. The rear seat has a 60:40 split and can slide forward or back by up to 150mm. This, in turn, can see the standard boot capacity increase from 410- to 520 litres. Fold down the seat backs and overall storage capacity grows to 1,255 litres.
In keeping with its MPV nature, but SUV styling, the driving position in the Crossland X gives you the impression of sitting high up thanks to its low dashboard height, but in reality you sit only marginally taller on the road than in a conventional hatchback. The Opel does benefit from an airy cabin, with a tall roof and large windscreen that is set forward. Its A-pillars aren't so thick as to greatly obstruct vision when pulling out from junctions, where generous quarter light windows also help. The door mirrors are set back from these and provide a good field of rearward visibility.
The automatic transmission is a six-speed unit and works well with the 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine. That may seem like a small capacity for a car of this size, but in this instance is tuned to produce 110hp. If you choose the five-speed manual gearbox, you get the same engine but without turbocharging meaning a reduced output of 82hp. As well as more power, this turbocharged engine benefits from an increased torque figure of 205Nm. This engine gives the Crossland X much more pulling power at lower speeds, which can be especially useful if you have a full accompaniment of passengers and luggage on board.
It is well-mannered on the road and around town, and the automatic transmission doesn't hesitate in making sure you're in a suitable gear. Its shifts aren't quite buttery smooth, but there is little to fault it when driven with gentler throttle inputs. Lower speeds also complement the ride quality, which copes well over speed bumps and surface imperfections. But not having the extended suspension travel of a taller SUV, combined with 17-inch alloy wheels on low profile tyres (standard on the SE model), does mean that it can sometimes bang into bigger bumps and potholes.
The suspension does settle down nicely on the motorway, providing a cushioned and smooth ride. At higher speeds the wind noise around the front, particularly the door mirrors, becomes more noticeable. It's not off-putting, but if you are inclined to keep your music volume low, longer motorway journeys may become a bit more jarring.
What you get for your money
Opel Ireland is offering the Crossland X in two trim levels: SC and SE. Priced from €21,995 for the 1.2-litre five-speed manual, the SC specification provides a good level of equipment. This includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a connection to Opel's OnStar and Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
The leather multifunction steering wheel includes buttons for the cruise control, there is dual-zone climate control, electric front and rear windows, rain sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights, a front camera with lane departure warning and with a traffic sign recognition camera.
You can upgrade to the SE trim for an additional €1,500. Doing so adds larger alloy wheels, the contrast colour roof with chrome trim, rear parking sensors, ambient cabin lighting, rear privacy glass, a driver's armrest and alloy-effect front and rear skid plates in the bumpers.
Choosing the automatic transmission, which includes the more powerful turbocharged engine, adds a further €2,500 to the cost.
The fact that the new Opel Crossland X has just the styling of an SUV rather than the mud-plugging ability will be enough to satisfy many potential buyers. Its roomy interior and relative comfort on the move places it ahead of some rivals too.