Of all the SUV-shaped cars that Volkswagen produces, the T-Cross is the smallest. And although the Wolfsburg-based firm originally kept the derivative line-up relatively simple from its launch in 2019, with just one petrol and one diesel engine available, the range has since grown to offer those typically younger, lifestyle-type buyers a much more comprehensive list of derivatives.
The 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel model is still available with a choice of five-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions. It’s a refined, efficient option but is unlikely to be a big-seller. In 2020 Volkswagen made the decision to introduce its more powerful 1.5 TSI EVO engine to the T-Cross line-up, paired exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box. With 148bhp on tap, this engine lends the compact crossover a healthy performance boost, but our testers agree that the T-Cross remains at its most appealing with the VW Group’s 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot under the bonnet.
It’s this engine that continues to represent the meat of the range. It's available in several states of tune and with a choice of gearboxes. We’ve yet to test the newly RDE2-compliant 109bhp version, but the most powerful 113bhp unit - fitted as it was with a six-speed manual ’box - proved to be a highly polished performer when we drove it out in Majorca in 2019. Here, though, we’re focussing on the 94bhp version, which comes with a five-speed manual transmission.
This car is pleasant, spacious, comfortable and easy to drive. The T-Cross strikes the same mature and rounded impression on UK roads as it did elsewhere, and while its driving experience is a little less vigorous for the inclusion of the 94bhp 1.0 TSI engine, it’s not one that seems particularly slow or frustrating.
Mid-level SE trim, tested here and likely to be the most popular in the range, gets you a fair bit of standard kit, but it’s the roof rails, variable-height boot floor, adaptive cruise control, Front Assist crash mitigation and avoidance aid and App-Connect infotainment function (which adds smartphone mirroring) that will probably justify the additional £1850 over the entry-level S. A new ‘United’ trim level was added to the T-Cross line-up in 2020, too. With prices starting from £20,410, it sits in between SE and SEL but largely adds unique cosmetic tweaks rather than any great improvement to equipment level.