What is it?
It’s a strange truth at the moment that making a success of producing small cars actually seems to mean turning them into slightly bigger, taller ones. If a car maker wants profitability out of his global supermini line today, in other words, he’d better have a downsized crossover somewhere within it.
The European market for these high-rise five-doors has doubled in size over the past five years, and is set to double again in the same time frame; and even if you're the biggest car maker in the world, you simply can’t afford to continue to pass on a share of a growing segment like that. And so, having watched as its rivals made all the money, Volkswagen has, in its usual style, carefully considered what its product positioning should be; laser-targeted the juicy middle of the market on price, size and specific role; and then taken its shot.
So enters the new Volkswagen T-Cross. A couple of inches longer and just under six inches taller than a Polo, the T-Cross is still smaller at the kerb than its main crossover-class rivals. VW dubs it ‘an urban SUV’ rather than an off-roader; there’s certainly no four-wheel-drive version.
At launch, you can choose between a pair of 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engines, which drive the front wheels through either manual or seven-speed twin-clutch gearboxes. Neither develops more than 113bhp. Our first taste of the car came in the more powerful 1.0 TSI 115 - in SEL trim.