But while it shares a number of mechanical elements – including powertrains – with the supermini, the T-Cross has distinctive SUV styling. Kaschützke says that was a result of a focus on versatility to serve the target audience of small families.
“We needed to differentiate it [from the Polo] so customers could see the added benefits,” he said. “It can’t just be a reworked Polo: it has to be a truly credible car. People aren’t going to buy this car because it’s an SUV but because of the versatility it gives them: a higher driving viewpoint and extra space.”
The five-seat T-Cross is 4107mm long and 1558mm high, making it marginally bigger than the Polo (4053mm and 1461mm respectively). The wheelbase of the two cars is identical, the extra length coming from larger front and rear overhangs. The T-Cross is 127mm shorter than the T-Roc, which is broadly similar in size to a Golf.
The T-Cross features a rear seat that can slide up to 14mm, giving the boot a variable capacity of between 385 and 455 litres - expanding to 1281 litres with the seats folder. The seating position is 100mm higher than in the Polo, and a new interior features a 3D-effect dashboard, which will be available in a range of colours.
In the UK, two 1.0-litre TSI petrol engines will be offered at launch, with 94bhp or 113bhp, powered through five- or six-speed manuals, or a seven-speed DSG automatic. A 1.6-litre diesel with 94bhp and a 1.5-litre 148bhp petrol will be offered in certain markets, although it is undecided if either will be available to British buyers. It will only be offered in front-wheel drive.
There are no current plans for a hybrid version, owing to the cost of installing the powertrain in smaller cars, although Kaschützke said the firm was “looking into it” for the future. The firm has also ruled out a GTI or R version. Small product line manager Andreas Kruger said: "The T-Cross is not a sports car. We have the Polo GTI in that class, which is a great car - I drive it myself - but the T-Cross is more for the family, it’s a functional car."