What is it?
It’s a big engine in Volkswagen’s smallest crossover, the T-Cross. Although big (it’s only a 1.5) is relative in family car terms these days.
The T-Cross is among our favourite small crossovers, being pleasant inside and tidy to drive. So far it’s been available with a 1.0-litre petrol engine in a couple of flavours, and a diesel that few people buy.
Now, though, it gets a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit making 148bhp, driving the front wheels, exclusively through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Headline performance is 0-62mph in 8.5sec, and economy is 43.2mpg/148g/km on the official combined cycle.
This one comes to us in range-topping R-Line trim, which means it looks a bit sporty but isn’t really, though it has 18in wheels; quite big for a small car. At 4.1m long the T-Cross is just a smidge longer than a VW Polo, though in 1.5 R-Line trim that doesn’t stop it having a pre-option price of £27,785.
What's it like?
Inside the T-Cross can win you over quickly. All of the materials have that very VW-look where they appear solid. It’s when you go poking them to see if they’re soft that it lets you down – only the door armrest and the obvious touch points – wheel, handbrake – have a soft feel to back this up. Elsewhere, especially in the rear, they feel more scratchy.
On R-Line versions there are digital instruments and an 8in central touchscreen that’s given a bit too much to do, although climate controls remain on real buttons, thankfully, and it only takes two quick steering wheel button pushes to disable or enable the lane keep assist.
I didn’t find it as easy as usual in a VW to get a good driving position. With the seat low the front of the squab is high and the wheel didn’t reach far enough to prevent the top section of it being a straight-arm stretch, unless the seat back was too upright. I don’t think competitors are necessarily better, but it’s worth checking it works for you. Rear room is good – the rear bench slides and plays off against boot space too.
And to drive, it’s fine. Motorway stability is good, the steering has a sophisticated, accurate and responsive weight, with jus the ‘right’ amount of self centring and directness. A Ford Puma is more alert, a Kia XCeed (a slightly longer car) a bit more chilled.