The Crossland is the first Opel to grace our pages here at the Resident. No pressure then…
Well, this is new. An Opel on these pages. It took a while but, finally, it’s here. I have been writing about cars for 12 years now and, although I drove many Opel models during this period, this is my first ‘official’ test. My first Opel press car.
Let’s get to it then. First, some context: sewing machines. That’s right, sewing machines. Adam Opel opened his sewing machine manufacturing business in Rüsselsheim Am Main, in Germany, in the distant year of 1862. Textile factories were all the buzz back then and Mr. Opel wanted a piece of that cake.
With time, he discovered his ambitions would not be realised by something so unemotional and he tried his hand at building bicycles come the year of 1886. Turns out Mr. Opel was quite handy at reading the markets – at the time of his death in 1895, Opel was the leading name in both the sewing machine and the bicycle market in Germany.
Money was good and his widow and two sons decided to venture into the automobile world before the end of the century. First through a partnership with a small locksmith from Dassau and then via an agreement with the French Darracq. The first originally designed Opel car was shown in 1902 and production started in 1906.
By the early 1920s, Opel had become the first German constructor to build an assembly line and with the Thirties approaching, it held a national market share close to 40%. Business was thriving and the family decided to take the company public. The American giant General Motors, impressed with such German precision and method, duly bought 80% of the available shares. In 1931, they acquired the other 20% and made Opel the most American of German enterprises.
The importance of the car in western society was growing exponentially and Opel became the first German car manufacturer to produce more than 100,000 units in a single year. We may not see it like that today, but the first 130 years of the name Opel were of success after success – even with two World Wars to contend with.
In the Eighties and Nineties, Opel was General Motors’ most successful business, but things started deteriorating in the new millennium and Opel lost some of its personality, its uniqueness and that German know-how seemed to be fading.
In 2017, the PSA Group bought Opel for €2.2 billion, and it is now part of the large Stellantis Group that resulted from the merger of the French PSA Group and the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
In 2019, Opel sold almost a million cars worldwide, with the pandemic hitting it hard last year and imposing a 35% decline in sales. But you can see this is not some small constructor. Opel is huge and still very much relevant in the car world.
Okay, let’s dig into the Crossland before I run out of page. The Crossland is Opel’s smallest SUV and has just been treated to a very favourable mid-life facelift. It looks much fresher and modern, with its appealing front fascia in high-gloss black, red side inserts and black wheels saying this is not your grandma’s car.
This GS Line trim is probably the one to go for if you want to give your Crossland that bit more flair.
The press car came with a 1.2 Turbo engine and a healthy 110 horsepower, coupled with a manual six-speed transmission. It’s a combination that suits the Opel fine and strikes a nice balance between performance and usability, with fuel consumption always at the forefront. I managed 6.1 litres during my time with the car, which I spent maybe 50% around town and 50% on the motorway.
Things I didn’t like were the excessive lightness of the gearbox action, since it didn’t give me any feedback in terms of gear-change or when and where I had slotted the selector. Mind you, this is probably a professional handicap – it is very likely a lot of drivers will enjoy such a feature. Also, the overly-assisted steering felt quite numb.
But that’s it. The Crossland is well judged for its assignments, offering a lot of space inside for families, a decent-sized boot at 410 litres and good levels of comfort in all situations. For what it costs – €23,600 –, this GS Line offers quite some bang for buck, with rain sensors, light sensors that include automatic high-beam function, LED lights, lane departure assist, traffic signs recognition, heated mirrors, among others.
The B-segment SUV is probably the most crowded segment on the market right now, with a new model or facelift being announced virtually every week, but I think the Crossland has some nice tricks up its sleeve to succeed, especially after being the subject of an interesting makeover that made it a lot more aesthetically pleasing.
Even so, this is not a car you buy because you fall in love with it. It’s a car built to win the value-for-money battle with a focus on practicality and banking on the all-important German quality card. Try it before you sign those papers, but I don’t see potential buyers being let down by the Crossland.
By Guilherme Marques