- Stylish design and wide choice of generously-equipped trims
- Punchy 1.0-litre petrol engine with two power outputs
- Smooth performance and handling
- Hard plastic inside the cabin
- No diesel option…yet
- Top grades can be pricey
You would think a car billed as a compact SUV would be small in stature with fairly cramped seating arrangements, but the VW T-Cross is the complete opposite. There is oodles of room for four adults to travel in comfort and the boot can hold lots of kit too.
The T-Cross looks stylish with a bold choice of colour options and customers can select from trim grades called S, SE, SEL and R-Line. And with prices ranging from £16,995 to £25,055, there is a model to suit all tastes and budgets.
VW predicts the best-selling version of the car from launch will be the T-Cross SE 1.0 115PS six-speed manual, so that’s the car we put to the test.
On The Road
VW is launching its latest compact SUV with just one three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine with either 95PS or 115PS. The 95PS engine can be mated to a five-speed manual gearbox in entry-level S or SE trims, while the 115PS powertrain is available in SE grade and above and can be matched to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. VW has also hinted at the possibility of introducing a diesel variant a little later down the line, but has not confirmed this yet.
We tested the SE 1.0 TSI 115PS with six-speed manual gearbox and 200 Nm of torque, which could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 10.2 seconds, maxing out at 120mph.
This is another perfect example of a little three-pot engine delivering the goods. The acceleration through the gears is smooth and responsive and there is instant power on tap to make light work of overtaking slower moving farm vehicles.
On country lanes, the T-Cross is composed and grips the road well while cornering. It’s not exactly the most dynamic or aggressive compact SUV on the market, but it’s all-round performance certainly impresses. Then in busier towns and villages, the car weaves through the crowds with nice precise steering offering ample driver feedback.
There was a time when three-cylinder engines would scream unbearably at higher speeds, especially if fitted to a car the size of the T-Cross, but these days the two go hand-in-hand with an excellent outcome. The vehicle is composed, very easy to drive and just as happy eating up the motorway miles as it is pottering around town.
VW has an enviable reputation of developing cars that deliver impressive ride and handling and the T-Cross is another example of that clever engineering. The car sits on the company’s MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) platform so shares much of its technology with the likes of the new Polo, Passat, Touran, Tiguan SUV and Tiguan Allspace.
And like its siblings the ride comfort is difficult to find fault with. Our test car was sitting on 17-inch wheels which were the perfect match, although we also tested a range-topping R-Line car on 18-inch alloys which also delivered superb ride and handling ability.
On slightly battered country lanes, the front-wheel-drive T-Cross made light work of smoothing out the surfaces and there was minimal sign of body sway even when pushed on into corners.
In fact, few compact SUVs would be as comfortable as the T-Cross is on such a broad selection of roads. It cruises effortlessly at the maximum national speed limit on motorways, delivers impressive grip along testing B roads and also proved very light and easy to drive in town – quite the all-rounder.
The five-door VW T-Cross is an attractive, rugged, sporty-looking compact SUV with plenty of smart design features. It is more upright than the recently-launch larger T-Roc model and boasts the likes of a distinctive three-strip grille with a single chrome bar running through the middle that houses the VW emblem and joins the LED daytime running lights either side. There are black roof rails, a tailgate with integrated rear spoiler and our test car featured bright Orange alloy wheels as part of an optional pack.
The interior is upmarket with plenty of on-board technology, although it is rather let down by the large quantity of hard plastic surfaces. Our car featured a bright orange and grey dashboard design that looked amazing when you first get into the car, but could bring on a migraine on a long journey – just too many bright stripes and swirls!
When it comes to driving refinement, the T-Cross is a pure delight. Like all VW models, the car is well insulated against any road surface, engine or wind noise and even at higher speeds, with the radio off, barely a sound filtered through into the cabin. Everything feels perfectly tuned and timed from the clutch to the gear switches to the braking, so there is no annoying vibration or awkward lurching feelings.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Getting a comfortable driving position is quick and easy with ample manual seat adjustment and full reach and rake steering wheel movement. The driver is treated to a fairly elevated and upright driving position and that results in great forwards, side and rear visibility, but the chunky rear pillars mean over-the-shoulder views are a little restricted. But generally, the T-Cross feels like a proper SUV rather than a beefed-up hatchback.
Our car was fitted with front sports seats with lumbar support in a smart black, orange and cream shade that were very easy on the eye and they proved comfortable and supportive.
There is a wealth of on-board technology to explore with the likes of an eight-inch colour infotainment screen with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to connect a smartphone. In addition, the two USB ports are conveniently positioned just in front of the gear lever so it would be easy to connect a phone.
The car had a Discover Navigation with Car-Net Guide and Inform pack costing £725 that added navigation with European mapping with online access to information such as the weather, traffic reports, fuel pricing and news feeds. The sat nav system is very simple to operate and the directions appear on the touchscreen and in the tft display behind the steering wheel directly in the driver’s line of sight.
Space & Practicality
The inside of the T-Cross is a little bit like the TARDIS. It may be billed as a compact SUV, but the interior is deceptively spacious with enough room for two six footers to sit one behind the other.
The rear leg, head and shoulder space is impressive and there is a rather clever sliding rear bench that can either free up extra legroom or luggage space depending on requirements.
The boot has a capacity of 385 or 455 litres, subject to the rear bench position, and this can be increased to 1,281 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Elsewhere there is a decent sized glovebox, wide door bins, a covered central compartment beneath the front armrest, two cup holders, a tray in front of the gear stick and two pockets in the backs of the front seats.
Access to the rear seats would be easy for anyone with mobility issues as the seating position is slightly raised and the doors open nice and wide. And there are Isofix child seat fixtures on the two outer rear seats.
The T-Cross range starts at £16,995 for the entry level S model powered by the 95PS 1.0-litre engine with five-speed manual gearbox. Our test car was the next grade up – SE – which VW believes will be the most popular and this was powered by the 115PS 1.0-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. This car was priced at £19,555, although a number of optional extras, including the upgraded navigation system, high beam assist, electrically-folding door mirrors, the bright orange design pack and special carpet mats, saw the price creep up to £22,720.
According to official figures, the car could deliver combined fuel economy of 48.3mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 112g/km. That would result in a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £170 for the first year which is reduced to £145 after that.
If you do have extra money to spare then the range-topping R Line model, complete with its super-slick seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox (along with steering wheel-mounted paddles), could be worth exploring, priced from £25,055.
The insurance group rating ranges from 8 to 12, but was classed as group 10 for the test vehicle.
VW believes more than half of T-Cross owners are likely to be private buyers.
Quality & Reliability
VW has an excellent reputation for developing cars that are built to last and while it is too early to predict how well the T-Cross will fare, it shares many underpinnings with more established VW models that have been fine.
All the doors close with that reassuring thud and the upholstery and switchgear certainly feels and looks like it has been designed with longevity in mind. That said; there are a lot of hard plastic surfaces and these could prove prone to scratches. In fact, we noticed a slight scratch on the test car’s glovebox and that had only been driven a limited number of miles, albeit hard miles!
The T-Cross is sold with a three year, 60,000-mile warranty along with one year of Volkswagen assistance (UK and Europe) breakdown cover.
While this is the standard warranty offered by many manufacturers these days, there are longer, more comprehensive five and seven-year deals from the likes of Toyota, Hyundai and Kia.
Safety & Security
Although the T-Cross is yet to be tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating it should secure the maximum five stars similarly to the recently-launched T-Roc.
Included as standard equipment are the Front Assist area monitoring system with Pedestrian Monitoring and City Emergency Braking, Lane Assist, Hill Start Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Traffic Alert. Also available as options are a Driver Alert System, Automatic Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist.
The car is fitted with a full suite of airbags, anti-lock brakes, hydraulic brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control, automatic hazard light activation under emergency braking, child safety locks in rear doors, tyre pressure monitoring, automatic post-collision braking system, an eCall pan European emergency call function, plus a rigid safety cell with front and rear crumple zones
An alarm and immobiliser helps protect the vehicle from uninvited attention.