From £16,1409
New compact crossover retains its classy, substantial feel on UK roads, even in mid-range, lower-powered form
  • First Drive

    Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 95 2019 UK review

    New compact crossover retains its classy, substantial feel on UK roads, even in mid-range, lower-powered form
  • First Drive

    Volkswagen T-Cross 2019 review

    VW’s new smallest SUV has refinement, versatility, maturity and polish – all the brand’s familiar qualities. Short on fun factor, perhaps, but not on substance

What is it?

It’s absolutely no reflection on its expectations of the customer base, as I’m sure it would be at pains to point out, but Volkswagen has elected to keep things simple when it comes to the derivative line-up of its new compact crossover, the T-Cross.

Technically, there are two engines to choose from, but honestly, there’s really only one, at least for now: the Group’s 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot. It's available in two states of tune and with a choice of gearboxes. We drove the higher-output 113bhp version, fitted with a six-speed manual, in Majorca recently. And while that can be had with a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, now’s our chance to try the cheaper, less powerful 94bhp engine with its five-speed manual.

If you’d prefer a diesel (and Volkswagen’s market research suggests that only 5% of compact crossover buyers do these days), the 94bhp 1.6 TDI version of the car available in other markets is likely to be added to the UK range later this year. However, Volkswagen UK currently has no plans to let the T-Cross wander too far into T-Roc territory on price by offering us the 148bhp 1.5 TSI.

Likely to be the most popular in the range, mid-level SE trim gets you a fair bit of extra kit, but it’s the roof rails, variable-height boot floor, adaptive cruise control, Front Assist electronic safety aid and App-Connect infotainment function (which adds smartphone mirroring) that will probably justify the additional £1810 over the entry-level S.

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What's it like?

This car is pretty pleasant, spacious, comfortable and easy to drive – just like we reported earlier of the 113bhp 1.0 TSI SEL. The T-Cross strikes the same mature and rounded impression on UK roads as it did earlier, too, 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.

There’s plenty of scope for adjustment in the driver’s seat, which is comfortable and of a good size even for the bigger-of-build, and there’s plenty of space of heads, limbs and feet. A sliding second-row bench is fitted as standard, which means you can trade off a bit of space in the good-size boot for extra leg room or vice versa. You’re unlikely to need to except in occasional circumstances, though, because there’s enough space in the back for average-sized adults or teenagers to ride comfortably, and that variable boot floor makes for every bit as much cargo space as you’d expect in a small car.

Volkswagen's standard interior treatment is bit monotonous, but there’s scope to add a bit of colour and life with one of the optional Design packs – particularly if you happen to like orange things. Perceived quality, meanwhile, is good, rather than great. If you’re giving up a lower-end Golf for this car, there’s just a chance you might notice the shortfall, although it’s unlikely that you’d be offended by it.

The 1.0-litre engine is just vocal enough when it’s working hard that you won’t confuse it for a four-pot, but it seems generally smooth and well-mannered at cruising revs. It feels a little bit laggy when picking up from below 2000rpm (a problem exacerbated by the longer intermediate gears of the five-speed gearbox) but responds well from there on upwards and gives the car a performance level somewhere between adequate and ample. Driveability is generally good, and the engine will spin up to 6000rpm for overtaking quite freely and without protesting too hard.

The T-Cross is more boxy and upright than some cars in this class, and because it’s also a touch softer-sprung than some, there’s just a hint of floatiness about its body control when dealing with bigger lumps and bumps around the national speed limit. That's a price most owners will very happily pay, however, in return for a quiet and absorbent low speed ride and good absorbency at trunk road pace, and it doesn’t adversely affect handling precision or high-speed stability.

The T-Cross corners with a touch of roll but still good chassis response. It has a very secure and dependable mid-corner feel, and it doesn’t get knocked off path easily by bumps or crosswinds at motorway speeds.

Should I buy one?

If you’ve decided on the compact crossover segment already and like a car of substance as well as style, you should absolutely consider the T-Cross.

You certainly don’t lose out on refinement or well-furnished functionality as a consequence of plumping for the lesser engine or SE trim, and if there’s a penalty on driveability, it’s a minor one.

The T-Cross has the measured, grown-up aura we expect of a Volkswagen, fine space and versatility and just enough visual distinctiveness to catch your eye but not a hint more. That should play well against much of the established compact crossover set, above which it now rises for recommendation pretty clearly.

Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 95 SE specification

Where Berkshire, UK Price £18,805 On sale Now Engine 3cyls, in line, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 94bhp at 5000rpm Torque 129lb ft at 2000-3500rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual Kerb weight 1245kg Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 11.5sec Fuel economy 48.6mpg (WLTP combined) CO2 131g/km (WLTP combined) Rivals Citroën C3 AircrossSeat Arona

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Comments
17

1 May 2019

... even if it's more or less the same underneath.  Would rather buy a Golf or Leon, though, or even an Ibiza.]

The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...

1 May 2019
What a load of waffle!! How long did it take to choose words that didn’t sound negative! The interior is hard and wholly solid plastic we can see that in the pictures that a massive step down from a Golf and a lot lower in quality, the engine I can’t imagine is wholly lively in it at all, I’ve been driving a 1.3 93bhp turbo diesel today - and that struggled with me just driving it at least that had more torque to call up on, this thing fully loaded will flounder on a slight incline thus piling on more revs and harming economy. It’s a miserable little car really!

1 May 2019
Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

What a load of waffle!! How long did it take to choose words that didn’t sound negative! The interior is hard and wholly solid plastic we can see that in the pictures that a massive step down from a Golf and a lot lower in quality, the engine I can’t imagine is wholly lively in it at all, I’ve been driving a 1.3 93bhp turbo diesel today - and that struggled with me just driving it at least that had more torque to call up on, this thing fully loaded will flounder on a slight incline thus piling on more revs and harming economy. It’s a miserable little car really!

The point is such cars will be rarely loaded. And your assumption about the 1.0tsi must be equally true for every small 3 cyl engine out there yet these remain popular with the car buying public.

By the way, it's not a Golf rival, it's a Polo. Massive step down? Yes and a step down in price too.

I mean honestly some folk. The car is a small town car with a high raised driving position which will spend it's life mainly around town and in that sense it works. But according to somefolk, unless cars are clad in soft-touch plastics, achieve 0-60 in under six seconds, has a straight-six, over 200bhp and should be comfortable for a family of 5 going on a 600 mile trip plus with all their holiday luggage on board - and room for the family pooch too, then it's crap and not fit for purpose.

Having driven that 1 litre albeit it in a slightly more powerful version but in the much larger Ateca, it's perfectly good for pottering around town with the occasional long journey thrown in. 

1 May 2019
scotty5 wrote:

But according to somefolk, unless cars are clad in soft-touch plastics....

To be fair, its the motoring press that has been telling us for years how superior VW's are because of their soft interior plastics, and certainly at a cheaper price point than this £19,000 model.  I'm sure that this T-Cross is a very pleasant and efficient car of its type, just not very interesting, but then it doesn't need to be. Those orange wheels do look like cheap plastic trims though....

1 May 2019
scotty5 wrote:

Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

What a load of waffle!! How long did it take to choose words that didn’t sound negative! The interior is hard and wholly solid plastic we can see that in the pictures that a massive step down from a Golf and a lot lower in quality, the engine I can’t imagine is wholly lively in it at all, I’ve been driving a 1.3 93bhp turbo diesel today - and that struggled with me just driving it at least that had more torque to call up on, this thing fully loaded will flounder on a slight incline thus piling on more revs and harming economy. It’s a miserable little car really!

The point is such cars will be rarely loaded. And your assumption about the 1.0tsi must be equally true for every small 3 cyl engine out there yet these remain popular with the car buying public.

By the way, it's not a Golf rival, it's a Polo. Massive step down? Yes and a step down in price too.

I mean honestly some folk. The car is a small town car with a high raised driving position which will spend it's life mainly around town and in that sense it works. But according to somefolk, unless cars are clad in soft-touch plastics, achieve 0-60 in under six seconds, has a straight-six, over 200bhp and should be comfortable for a family of 5 going on a 600 mile trip plus with all their holiday luggage on board - and room for the family pooch too, then it's crap and not fit for purpose.

Having driven that 1 litre albeit it in a slightly more powerful version but in the much larger Ateca, it's perfectly good for pottering around town with the occasional long journey thrown in. 

 

Fortunately I’ve driven a number of 3ycl 1.0 turbo engines from a number of companies through out the years and also a number of other downsized engines... and I can say that the 1.0 in this will struggle quite confidentially... it will be merely adequate no less, docile and okay for town but not for joining motorways or A roads at a pace required at a decent speed in today’s modern traffic. 

1 May 2019

Boring.......

Steam cars are due a revival.

1 May 2019
Thekrankis wrote:

Boring.......

My sentiment exactly

I was bored so read this review, still bored.

 

However criticisms of its apparant pace by other posters seem harsh, my wifes mii which has the same engine without a turbo and with only 70+bhp actually accelerates upto motorway speeds on slipways perfectly fine and safely and that was last done with 4 adults on board so I see no reason why this should be so terrible. You just need to adjust your expectations, and regarding cheap plastics, something that has always been criticised in all other cars is acceptable in a vw, odd.

2 May 2019
Thekrankis wrote:

Boring.......

Not as boring as your VAG related posts

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

1 May 2019

VW really has Autocar's nuts in a vice these days.

1 May 2019

A big play is being make here for substance without the reviewer actually highlightlng where this comes from. The heavy weight will make it dull witted compared to more efficiently constructed PSA rivals and it certainly fulfills a dull design brief. Is Autocar confusing dour dullness and substance?

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