VAUXHALL has launched a new baby crossover into the booming SUV market and is hoping its all-new Crossland X will prove an attractive option for young families and older couples.
Priced from £16,555, the front wheel-drive car is available with three 1.2-litre petrol engines with 81, 110 or 130bhp, or 1.6-litre diesel powertrains with either 99 or 120bhp.
There is a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes and customers can select from a number of well-equipped trim levels with further optional packs to spec up the car.
With practicality in mind Vauxhall believes 65 per cent of sales will come from private owners, especially families with young children or older people who will benefit from the high seating position, easy access and extensive range of safety features.
The Crossland X is smaller than the Vauxhall Mokka X and later this year the largest in the company's SUV line-up called the Grandland X will enter the market.
The five-door car is easy on the eye with neat sculpted lines, distinctive LED daytime running lights, a bold grille housing the Vauxhall badge, plenty of chrome trim and a floating roof appearance.
At the rear of the car the high-mounted split rear lights also feature the distinctive double wing graphic.
The interior is modern in its design and neatly laid out with a driver-focused cockpit.
Techno treats depending on trim level include the likes of a seven or eight-inch touchscreen, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic rearview camera, a head-up display, advanced park assist and full link up to Vauxhall's impressive OnStar system which connects the caller with a real person to get all sorts of information about the local area.
But perhaps more importantly the OnStar set-up will send details of your location to the emergency services if the car is involved in an accident and you cannot be contacted.
The interior of the Crossland X is comfortable and there is enough room in the back for a couple of adults if the front seats aren't pushed right back.
There is also the option to have 60:40 split folding rear seats that can slide forwards or backwards to increase leg room or luggage capacity as required. The boot can hold from 410 litre up to 1,255 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
The trim line-up for the Crossland X, which is on sale now with deliveries from the end of June, is SE, Elite, SE Nav, Elite Nav and Tech Line Nav.
The car is available with a raft of safety features, once again depending in trim levels. These include the likes of lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, forward collision alert with pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking and a driver drowsiness system.
We tried out a couple of models on some twisting Cotswold roads that certainly tested the car's agility and dynamics.
First up was the SE 1.2 110bhp ecoTEC petrol model with five-speed manual transmission priced at £18,575, increased to £21,455 with options. The car could reach from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, maxed out at 117mph and according to official figures delivered combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg with carbon emissions of 111g/km.
The car was comfortable enough and the acceleration through the gears was responsive with was plenty of power on tap. The light steering was appreciated in busy traffic as the car weaved through the crowds, but on faster twisting roads it was not quite so much fun. There is quite a lot of body lean into corners and the engine, road surface and wind noise levels do increase considerably when the car is driven hard.
The instrumentation was well positioned for driver usability and the sat nav system worked well when connected to a smartphone via Android Auto.
Whilst Vauxhall has excelled in delivering good storage options at the back of the car, up front it's not quite so impressive. The glovebox is tiny as it also houses the fuse box and the cup holders are very small and shallow.
Next up was the Elite specification 1.6-litre 99bhp ecoTEC diesel model, again with five-speed manual gearbox. This car was priced at £19,915 but a number of optional extras bumped up the asking price to £22,895. It reached 62mph from a standing start in 12.0 seconds, topped out at 112mph and had combined fuel efficiency of 76.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 95g/km.
Once again, the car handled well and it is unlikely people who buy the Crossland X will want to push its boundaries too far. The diesel model proved nice and responsive although not quite so punchy as its petrol counterpart. But you will get far greater fuel economy from this model as is reflected in the figures.
Vauxhall is confident the Crossland X is arriving at just the right time as Rory Harvey, Vauxhall's chairman and managing director, said: "Crossland X will appeal to buyers with families who demand agility and convenience in urban driving, but with enough comfort and performance to cover long distances at the drop of a hat. Our customers' expectations are changing, so the timing is perfect for an additional model in the Vauxhall range, which caters for a new breed of buyer."
The Crossland X is a collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroen alliance and only time will tell if Mr Harvey's thoughts are a little too ambitious in this fiercely competitive segment with so many manufacturers vying for sales.