Volkswagen's new small SUV tested on Irish roads
Pros: Funky styling, user friendly drive, roomy inside
Cons: Pricey with options, not exciting to drive
First there was the Tiguan, then the T-Roc, and now it's T-Cross time. The T-Cross is the Volkswagen's smallest SUV to date, and it goes up against a host of rivals including the Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport and SEAT Arona. The T-Cross is based on the same MQB platform as the latest Volkswagen Polo, but it's longer, taller and boasts a high-sitting SUV-style driving position. We spent a week with the T-Cross on Irish roads recently to see how it compares to the class best and if it can follow in the footsteps of Volkswagen's other popular SUV models.
The T-Cross is funky from the outside, especially in this energetic orange paint scheme with matching alloy wheels. It borrows styling inspiration from the larger Volkswagen T-Roc, with a sweeping front grille and striking rear lights. The T-Cross will be an attractive option for those who like SUV styling on a compact scale, and while it has lots of off-roading ques such as high raised bumpers and roof rails, even though it isn’t a competent off-roader. Volkswagen offers four levels of specification with an entry ‘T-Cross’ model, mid-specification ‘Life’ and range-topping ‘Style’ and 'R-Line' models with lots of bells and whistles. As standard, the T-Cross has 16-inch steel wheels, though higher specification models are better equipped in the styling stakes.
The T-Cross shares its underpinnings with the latest Volkswagen Polo, but it is much roomier inside with enough room for four adults, although the middlemost rear seat is slightly lacking in leg room. There are lots of useful storage areas throughout the cabin including sizeable door bins, along with a clever storage drawer underneath the driver seat. The centre console area also has a useful area to hold a smartphone with a wireless charger on high-spec models. The boot is 455 litres which is more than the Ford EcoSport, while the rear seats are 60/40 split folding when extra space is needed. The rear seat bench slides forwards and backwards easily, furthering boosting the T-Cross' family car credentials.
Inside, it’s attractive with eye-catching optional coloured plastics across the dashboard, centre console and coloured seat upholstery. Although the plastics are sturdy, they are a little scratchy in places, particularly in low reaching areas. The driver’s area is inviting, with a slick eight-inch touch screen infotainment system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay included from mid-specification upwards. The ‘Design’ model that we drove is kitted out with sports comfort seats and orange detailing throughout the cabin, although this colour combination won't be to everyone’s taste. Elsewhere in the cabin, there are several USB charge points, ISOFIX mounts for family buyers and electric front and rear windows.
The T-Cross is available with Volkswagen's 1.0-litre TSI three cylinder petrol engine (95hp or 115hp variants) and a 1.6-litre TDI diesel (95hp). We drove the 115hp 1.0-litre TSI model, and it’s lively with punchy three-cylinder power delivery and a six-speed manual gearbox. With €200 yearly motor tax and claimed fuel economy of 5.6l/100km, the T-Cross generally scores well on running costs. All-wheel-drive isn't available, not that it's needed in a small SUV anyway. Buyers can choose a seven-speed automatic transmission at an extra cost. Although the diesel-powered T-Cross offers superior running costs on motorway journeys, the 1.0-litre petrol unit is well-suited in our opinion. The driving experience is assured, rather than exciting, and it's easy to drive and see out of around town, with reasonable refinement at motorway speeds.
The T-Cross scores well in terms of safety with a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, six airbags and lots of safety technology. The T-Cross boasts a blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, lane keeping assist, pedestrian monitoring, hillstart assist, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, a speed limiter and a tyre pressure monitoring system all as standard.
Prices and features:
Prices start from €22,495 for the entry T-Cross model, which includes LED daytime running lights, electric and heated mirrors, electric windows, a 6.5-inch colour radio system, manual air conditioning, Bluetooth, a multifunction display and multifunction steering wheel. The step up to Life specification adds a leather steering wheel and gear knob, decorative inserts, a clever underseat storage drawer, 16-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, body coloured bumpers, Volkswagen’s 8-inch composition touch screen system, adaptive cruise control and extra USB points. The step up to Life specification is well justified in our opinion.
The Style model that we tested adds sports seats, ambient interior lighting, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, tinted rear windows, anodised roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, a driver alert system, a lights and vision package and lots more. A range-topping R-Line model available with all sorts of sporty upgrades, though it demands a premium price tag.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The T-Cross is a likeable addition to Volkswagen’s crossover range, with funky styling, a surprisingly roomy cabin and frugal petrol engines. It is a tempting alternative to other small hatchback cars, and one to consider for existing hatchback owners who are considering a change. The T-Cross is considerably more expensive than many of its rivals however, while there are some low rent plastics throughout the cabin. That said, as a small SUV package it’s a competitive new entry, and one that is likely to prove popular for years to come.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI Style
Prices from: €22,495
Price as tested: €31,901
Annual Motor Tax: €200
Engine: 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 455 litres
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