Have you noticed how utterly appalling British roads have become?
I bloody have.
They’re a scandalous, disgusting, broken mess of pot holes, speed humps, collapsed drains and flooded sewers that add up to nothing less than a severe test of: a) your patience and b) your car’s suspension.
This back-breaking test of torture was violently brought to my attention by having to take an hour’s drive through Essex and Suffolk to the funeral of an old friend.
The car in question was a Vauxhall Crossland X and it spectacularly succeeded in demonstrating the state of our so-called “roads”.
Actually, “roughly tarmaced tracks” would be a far better description.
Why was the Crossland so good at pointing out the waste of space our roads have become during the past 20-odd years?
Probably because it’s been fitted with rubber bands to replace a proper suspension set-up.
Before setting off for Suffolk I’d attempted a trip to hospital with my wife and her sister. That was a mistake that earned the car Award Number One for its so-called suspension.
My wife sat in the front passenger seat clinging to the sides while the car rolled and bounced around like a ship in a storm.
Her poor sister, in the back, had to cling on to the side handgrab and immediately announced it to be the most uncomfortable car she’d ever been in.
Eventually they both asked me to slow down so I pointed out the huge queue of traffic behind us.
It’s such a shame because, apart from its suspension and its dreadfully designed interior it’s a well equipped car at a decent price.
Mind you, it needs to be.
Now that I’ve briefly mentioned the Crossland’s roly poly suspension that sees it ride through bumps with the precision of a lifeboat, I’ll turn my attention to its interior.
Award Number Two – an honours degree in stupidity – goes to whoever designed the dashboard.
Why does the steering wheel stick so far out towards the driver that you’re continually driving with your elbows bent down towards your knees?
Yes, it is adjustable, but even pushed as far forwards as possible it still sticks out by almost a full foot from the dashboard.
Why you would want it any nearer is a mystery, but of course you can, though you can’t get the blooming thing further away.
Award Number Three is due for designing the fuel and engine temperature guages directly behind the top of the steering wheel.
That means that, driven normally, they can’t be seen.
Lifting the steering wheel higher means you can just spot them, but the result feels like you’re driving a bus.
Award Number Four is for the front door pockets, which get progressively thinner towards the back, making it impossible to pick anything out of them because you can’t get your fingers down the sides.
Award Number Five is picked up by the boot. Fair enough, at 2ft 3in deep and 3ft 2in wide, it’s a decent size, even stretching to an excellent 5ft with the rear seat backs folded down.
Trouble is it’s totally flat, without a single separate storage space for even something as small as an orange, never mind bits of shopping that can only be stopped from rolling around by using the shopping bag hooks on each side.
They are, quite rightly, the required 18in above the floor, but in an age where the oceans themselves are literally drowning in a sea of plastic, I’ve stopped using plastic bags altogether.
So that’s the Crossland firmly put in its place for a number of stupid mistakes, but before you chalk it off your shopping list it still manages to be a remarkably good looking and hugely equipped car for the cash.
That’s why we’re beginning to see so many of them around, along with its big brother, the Grandad, sorry Grandland.
The 1.5-litre diesel turbo version I drove has a standard kit list that’s a massive 42 features long.
They include its split height boot floor which could be used to stop stuff rolling around if you crushed your shopping into it, as it’s only 5in deep, again with no pockets.
It does, however, also feature an easy to use 8in MMI touchscreen interface which not only includes sat-nav but also the simplest straight-forward radio system I’ve ever come across, which made it a real pleasure to use compared to the mind blowing systems I’ve attempted to master in cars costing three times as much as the Crossland’s £21,715 price-tag.
There’s also an all round camera system for fault-free parking and, hallelujah, a Lane Assist system which instead of trying to grab the steering wheel out of your hands, emits a reasonably quiet series of beeps.
At the moment, though, the Crossland’s myriad faults outweigh its decidedly good points, but they won’t be around for long.
Once new owners PSA, producers of Citroens, Peugeots and DS Automobiles, get to grips with Vauxhall we can look forwards to value for money … without accepting the mistakes that go with it.
Vauxhall Crossland X Elite Nav 1.5 diesel.
REAR MIRROR MONSTER: Best viewed from the side, the Crossland looks snub nosed from the front thanks to its bonnet being only a third of the size of its sloping windscreen. Definitely not a monster.
BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Andy Capp roof spoiler above tail lights topped with ledges and a silver rear skid plate make it a most unusual and different car. Not particularly pretty, but interesting.
PLAYTIME PLEASER: 8in touch screen sat nav with speed limit display, twin zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, trip computer, rear parking sensors with all round camera, electric heated door mirrors, auto lights and wipers, voice control, heated steering wheel, 17-inch diamond-cut alloys, DAB stereo with steering wheel controls, AM, FM, twin USB, iPod, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Glove box is exactly what it says it is. Headlights look amazing but turn out to be more yellow than bright at night.
TASTY TOUCHES: Door mirrors fold in automatically when you lock the car. Grab handles above rear seats.
FAST OR LAST: Smooth motorway cruiser in a straight line on a decent surface, where it ticks over quietly at 1,800rpm at 70mph.
WONGA WONDA: Great value as far as kit for cash is concerned but ride quality is in need of major improvement.
WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Fantastic image for Chantelle, who only cares that it looks smart, which it definitely does from the side.
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