Can the new Volkswagen T-Cross match the success of its bigger sibling, the T-Roc? We drive it to find out…Verdict4Volkswagen’s baby crossover is small but well packaged, and makes for an appealing addition to the firm’s burgeoning range of SUVs. Smart, spacious and fairly well equipped, it isn’t even as expensive as you might expect a small VW to be. It’s more than sharp enough to drive, and, at a stroke, becomes the most desirable small SUV money can buy. The marketing slogan “I am more” for once might be correct.
The Volkswagen Polo-based T-Cross is the brand’s third new SUV in the last two years and completes a family line up of no less than five models in total. VW, you might rightly conclude, is fully committed to the SUV, both now and in the future with a variety of drivetrains that will include a full EV model within the next 18 months.
Now, the T-Cross comes to the UK with two different engine options, both 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrols – one with 94bhp, the other with 113bhp. In its most affordable form, the T-Cross costs just £16,995, rising to £25,050 for the 113bhp R-Line DSG.
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Dimensionally, the front-wheel-drive T-Cross is slightly longer than a Polo (at 4,107mm). It’s also 110mm higher, while the driving position has been raised by 100mm. As a result, it’s considerably bigger than a Polo inside, despite their identical wheelbases.
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In the rear, the T-Cross features a bench seat that slides backwards and forwards, increasing rear legroom by an impressive 150mm. It feels more fun but, at the same time, more grown-up than a Polo inside, and the extra sense of space is immediately obvious – from any of the five seats, but especially in the rear. With the bench in its rearmost setting the T-Cross feels genuinely roomy, with leg and headroom to spare. Slide the bench forward, however, and rear legroom disappears completely.
Luggage space can vary between 385 and 455 litres – or a theoretical 1,281 litres with all the seats folded. And that makes it far more flexible and accommodating outright than a Polo, too. Even the passenger seat can be folded flat, creating a load area similar to that of a small van.
Having said that, sliding the rear seat forwards leaves a curiously large hole right across the back of the boot, into which even fairly large items can fall. VW’s designers don’t seem too bothered about this, pointing out how much extra boot space the sliding seat unleashes, but it seems like a strange quirk in an otherwise practical and well-designed baby SUV.
There will be four different trim levels; S, SE, SE L and R-Line. The options list is long, but all models come with VW’s excellent 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with full connectivity as standard, plus wireless charging for your phone, LED lights front and rear, air conditioning and a range of active and passive safety systems that include lane assist, brake assist and side monitoring.
We drove both versions, although the most popular model is likely to be the lower-powered version in SE trim. First thing you notice when you climb aboard is the extra height of the driving position. Every car we tried featured VW’s optional new ‘3D’ dash design; it looks good, feels good, and features far harder dash plastics than the Polo. The effect is not without appeal from behind the wheel.
Performance from the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol – fundamentally the same motor that powers the Up! GTI – is decent rather than sparkling in either guise, with a lack of torque below 2,500rpm blunting its appeal on the move. The 0-62mph dash takes 10.2 seconds in the 113bhp model or 11.5 seconds in the 94bhp version.
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Refinement is impressive in both models; the 94bhp car gets a slick five-speed, while the six-speed manual gearbox works well in the 113bhp model, too. Both are available with an optional dual-clutch transmission.
On the move, the T-Cross rides extremely well and steers with a light, accurate precision. It doesn’t roll as much as you’d think for a car so tall, and again its chassis has a grown-up refinement that belies its underpinnings. Dynamically it gives very little away to the Polo on which it’s based.
It won’t excite the average enthusiast, but it drives well enough. Where it scores most successfully beside the Renault Captur and SEAT Arona is in its high-quality cabin feel, its excellent practicality, upmarket communications package and impressive noise suppression on the move.
- Model: Volkwagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 115PS R-Line
- Price: From £23,550
- Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
- Power/torque: 113bhp/200Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
- Top speed: 120mph
- Economy/CO2: 57.6mpg/115g/km
- On sale: April
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