The market launch of the Volkswagen T-Cross is still almost a year away, but this being Autocar, we’ve already had access to a prototype to deliver you an early impression.
The T-Cross you see here is far from production ready, as is evident from the camouflage that makes it look like it crashed into the Starburst factory. But what lies beneath, according to the car’s engineers, is “95% complete”. So this is a credible early glimpse of what’s to come.
Due on sale in spring 2019 priced from about £17,000, the T-Cross follows the all-new T-Roc to further bolster VW’s SUV line-up, which is set to grow to 12 models by 2020. But as the cheapest of the lot, the T-Cross, a rival to the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Juke, could fast become the volume seller and, given the sky-rocketing demand for SUVs, it’s not particularly mad to suggest it could outsell the Polo one day.
The T-Cross is built on the ubiquitous MQB platform and in this application it’s technically linked to the Polo, so it shares many features with that car, including a very similar footprint that’s only larger thanks to extended overhangs. Although the car pictured here wears camouflage, we’ve seen an undisguised design prototype and it’s clear VW has gone for a similarly youthful look to the one it introduced with the T-Roc, particularly at the rear, where there’s LED lighting and a reflector bar across the middle.
VW’s engineers have packed as much safety and practicality as possible into the T-Cross, so it gets a full suite of driver assist technology, including VW’s latest front assist area monitoring system that can prevent impacts with vehicles ahead or approaching from the side. Plus the T-Cross can devour a class-leading 455 litres of luggage when the 60/40-split rear bench is slid forward by 20mm (a feature that’s unique in the segment) and the two-level boot floor is set to its lowest. It swallows 1281 litres with the rear seats completely down.
This provides the T-Cross with “unrivalled flexibility”, according to VW small cars boss Andreas Krüger, although the prototypes we tried featured a strengthening bar that stretched across the front of the boot floor (just behind the seats), which created an inconvenient raised lip about an inch high. This could be “engineered out” before production starts, we’re told, but it might not be, which would hinder the usability of the boot floor’s space.
Tick a few option boxes and VW will add its slick and functional 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system and the active info display instrument cluster as well, carried directly over from the Polo. There are also vibrant trim finishes available with an optional 3D print design on the dashboard to spruce things up.