Car Review: New Volkswagen T-Cross

We’ve finally had a chance to get our hands on VW’s new and exciting T-Cross! Here’s what we think…

The T-Cross has arrived and after much excitement (VW kept expectations high during the build up to its launch) we’ve finally had a chance to get our hands on this new addition to the automaker’s SUV range. Here’s what we can tell you about the new Volkswagen T-Cross…

The T-Cross, as many are saying, is a Polo-based SUV that aims to serve customers in the market for a practical, funky and affordable model in Volkswagen’s small SUV range. It slots in just below its bigger brother, the Tiguan, but comes with a more affordable price tag and a bunch of features as standard.

What makes it funky?

The T-Cross, which is produced in Spain, Navarra, is somewhat less pretentious than that of its bigger siblings and has a rather playful energy about it. I feel like I wouldn’t be as precious about friends and their kids hopping in there with their sandy feet after a trip to the beach, or when throwing a couple of heavy items in the back for fear of damaging any delicate interiors – it’s just not that sort of car. The T-Cross strikes me as a car that focuses on offering you a lively, more casual and practical cabin, to complement its striking and sporty exterior, rather than it trying to be anything sophisticated or elegant. In terms of familiarity (not size) it leans more towards the Polo, or even the Polo Vivo – which is a good thing, because after all the Polo Vivo is SA’s most popular passenger car.

It’s also expressive, with its large radiator grille, front bumper and I love the shades of the nine different body colour options. Customers have the option to jazz things up further with a selection of coloured wheel rims which enhance the combination options.

If you want to opt for an enhanced and more stylish interior (and you should) you can go for VW’s design package that offers 3D décor for the dash pad, two-tone seat surfaces, a steering wheel clasp and central console in a matching tone, and colour-coordinated wing mirrors and wheels. The indirect ambient lighting further accentuates the vehicle’s interior. Electric windows on all four doors and a height-adjustable driver and passenger seat also come as standard.

If a cabin with a good sound system is important to you, VW’s beats® sound system (300-watt, 8-channel amplifier and a separate subwoofer in the luggage compartment) is definitely worth opting for! It amplifies your favourite tunes and really just enhances everything that makes your time in the T-Cross a lively experience.

What makes it affordable?

Before the T-Cross was available, those wanting to own a new SUV with a VW badge had to start with the Tiguan – but that currently comes in at R442 900. Now that the T-Cross is here with a starting price of R335 600, this could be the reason that growing families start sticking (or turning to) VW when upsizing from a hatch or sedan to an SUV. Of course there are still rivals in the Renault, Opel and Suzuki range to consider, but you’d need to carefully compare what it is you’re looking for when it comes to space and specifications – this will all come down to what’s at the top of your list.

What will appeal to customers, as far as bang for buck is concerned, is the T-Cross’s extensive list of standard equipment – you can check the full list out here but on the Comfortline trim alone you get things like Hill Start Assist, body coloured bumpers, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter, a leather-wrapped multi-functional steering wheel – and so on and so on.

VW also notes that an entry level T-Cross model which retails below R300 000 and will be available in South Africa from the second quarter of 2020 – so if you want to hang on for the most affordable VW SUV yet, then that’s an option too.

What makes it so practical?

I’ve already mentioned it being unpretentious, but another key highlight of the T-Cross is its rear sliding seats which make way for a number of practical uses. Slide them forward, and you can increase the T-Cross’s boot space from 377-litres to 455-litres. If you want more boot space, fold the rear seats flat and you get an impressive 1 281-litres of storage volume. Loading capacity aside, the sliding rear seats can also slide backwards to create extra room for taller rear passengers – pretty handy when teens seem to grow overnight.

What’s it like on the road?

If you want one today, for now there is only the 1.0-litre TSI engine to choose from, however pre-orders can be made for the range-topping 1.5-litre TSI R-Line. Both are mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission. We sampled the available unit at the launch over two days in the Garden Route and while 1.0-litre engines on vehicle’s aimed at families always make me feel a bit hesitant, I was pleasantly surprised at how the T-Cross performed, especially when I had the chance to experience it with three other adults in it, on route to Bloukrans Bridge! I should know by now that VW knows how to put its components together – it all felt smooth, responsive and overtaking on the highway took little to no planning.

What’s the conclusion?

As we always advise our readers, test driving a car for yourself is always the right way to go about considering whether a car is right for you or not. We do think that the T-Cross is going to take on its rivals in a big way, now that VW has a more affordable SUV in its range, and if you’re wanting something even more affordable we’d suggest waiting until 2020 for the entry-level version. Don’t expect high quality finishes from its interior (as you would with VW’s more premium models), the T-Cross has more in the way of striking design work and practical features – we think that VW has done a good job at giving customers good value for money considering the price point of this new SUV.

Pre-orders of the top-of-the-range T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG® model start this week and customers can place their pre-orders on the Volkswagen website: www.vw.co.za.

Recommended Retail Price (VAT and emissions tax included)

1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG®                   R334 600

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG®                         R365 000

1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®                          R403 500

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 45 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.