Volkswagen T-Cross (2019-present)

Refined, well equipped and practical, the VW T-Cross sets a new benchmark in the compact crossover class

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Impressive build quality inside and out
Polished driving experience
Practical and versatile

Weaknesses 

Performance is underwhelming
High prices of R-Line versions
No parking sensors on SE trim
Volkswagen T-Cross prices from £18,910   Finance from £268 per month

Although Volkswagen describes the T-Cross as an SUV, it’s actually more of a crossover - although the distinction between the two forms is becoming more blurred by the day. As an SUV, it brings the number of such models VW has in its line-up to five.

Despite being the tiddler of the range, the T-Cross is impressively versatile and practical with a sliding rear bench seat that splits and folds, up to 1,281 litres of load space and, from SE trim upwards, a variable height boot floor.

Did we say a ‘tiddler’? Although it shares mechanical parts with the Volkswagen Polo supermini, the T-Cross is slightly longer and taller than it. Occupants sit higher, too. It all helps to create a heightened sense of interior space. However, it’s no illusion, since there’s a lot more headroom than you’ll find in a Polo, while pushing the rear seat back creates a lot more passenger legroom. In all, it’s a surprisingly roomy, family runabout. The T-Cross’s boot is 455-litres, 104-litres up on the Polo.

The T-Cross’s crossover rivals consist of the Renault Captur and the Arona from VW’s sister brand, Seat. Where the T-Cross scores over these is in its greater practicality and versatility, and superior quality.

Don't bother looking for a diesel engine in the price list; there isn't one. Instead, you can choose from two small, 1.0-litre petrol engines. If money’s tight and you’re a relaxed driver, the lower powered 95hp one in cheapest S trim is fine. It helps keep the T-Cross’s price as low as possible but you won't want for essential equipment.

If you’re a more demanding driver who regularly carries passengers, you’ll be better off with the more powerful 115hp engine. This is the staple powerplant available with a better gearbox and across more trim levels. It’s about as economical as the 95hp unit, too. Don’t like changing gears? There’s an optional automatic gearbox.

On the road, the T-Cross feels secure and comfortable. Despite being quite tall, it doesn't lean too much in corners, which sensitive passengers will appreciate. Even the 115hp engine isn't especially quick but so powered, a T-Cross can nip around town and will cruise on the motorway at the legal maximum comfortably enough.

As we said, S is the cheapest trim. It’s a bit of a leap to SE, the next one, but it’s worth making for the extra kit it provides. SEL is a bigger leap still but for all of its extra equipment, the only genuinely useful thing it has over SE is parking sensors front and rear. Top-spec R-Line is fun but it pushes the T-Cross’s price over the edge. Meanwhile, you can jazz up SE and SEL with a choice of designer packs that are fun and good value.

Regardless of the trim you choose, the T-Cross feels well built and classy. It’s a welcome impression at this price level that eludes its rivals and which means it’s likely to feel fresh long after that new car smell has evaporated.

The T-Cross is certainly one of the better small crossovers, but at around £1200 more than an equivalent Polo, you have to ask yourself if you really need the space.

   

Last Updated 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 09:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
2 years/unlimited mileage or 3 years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
455 litres
Width: 
1799mm
Length: 
4235mm
Height: 
1584mm
Tax: 
£170 in the first year, £145 thereafter

Best Volkswagen T-Cross for... 

VW T-Cross S 1.0 TSI 95 S
On paper this is the most economical version with a maximum economy figure of 48.7mpg. It’s also the cheapest. However, there’s not much between it and the more powerful 1.0 TSI 115 which, with its extra performance and six-speed rather than five-speed gearbox is, on balance, a better choice.
VW T-Cross SEL 1.0 TSI 115
With the family and their luggage aboard you’ll appreciate the more powerful 115’s extra performance while SEL trim, the third highest in the range, adds welcome extra including parking sensors, bright LED lights, secure privacy glass, dual-zone climate control and a sat nav.
VW T-Cross R-Line 1.0 TSI 115 DSG
Although not especially quick, this version does at least look the part thanks to its racy alloy wheels, body kit and sporty interior details. On top of that, the DSG automatic gearbox can be operated via steering wheel-mounted controls, giving you greater control of gear changes.

Volkswagen T-Cross History 

2019 All-new model launched in April powered by a choice of 1.0 95hp and 1.0 115hp engines, the latter offered with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. Also available in a choice of four trims plus a launch model called First Edition, limited to 250.

Understanding Volkswagen T-Cross car names 

  • T-Cross
  • Trim
    R-Line
  • Engine
    1.0 TSI 115
  • Gearbox
    DSG
  • Trim
    The T-Cross’s four trim names (S, SE, SEL and R-Line) are familiar from other VW models, with S being the cheapest and most basic, and R-Line the sportiest and most expensive. The low-power 1.0 TSI 95 engine is only offered in S and SE trims, while the more powerful 115 engine is offered with all but S trim.
  • Engine
    TSI is VW’s range of turbocharged petrol engines, while the figure 1.0 in the name indicates it’s one-litre in size, which is quite small. The closing number, in this case 115 (the other engine is 95) is its power output, expressed as horsepower.
  • Gearbox
    DSG is the abbreviation for VW’s automatic gearbox. The one in the T-Cross has seven speeds or gears. Where it doesn't say DSG in the name, it has a manual gearbox, with five speeds on the 1.0 TSI 95 and six on the 1.0 TSI 115.

Volkswagen T-Cross Engines 

1.0 TSI 95, 1.0 TSI 115

In light of diesel’s fall from grace and because the T-Cross is a small, urban crossover that’s unlikely to be used for anything more challenging than running to the shops and commuting relatively short distances, VW offers the model only with petrol engines.

There are two, both just one litre in capacity and in a choice of power outputs: an entry-level unit producing 95hp and a usefully more powerful one producing 115hp.

The job of the 95 unit is to keep the T-Cross’s price as low as possible. To that end it has a five-speed gearbox and is only available in basic S and mid-range SE trims.

The 115 is worth paying extra for not only for its welcome improvement in overtaking and cruising performance but, because it has a six-speed gearbox, its fuel economy, which is almost the same as the 95 engine.
In addition, it’s available with an optional seven-speed automatic gearbox that makes driving in town much easier. It’s the engine to choose.

 

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration

Top speed

TSI 1.0

Petrol

47.9-48.7mpg

95hp

0-62mph: 11.5s

-

TSI 1.0

Petrol

44.8-47.9mpg

115hp

0-62mph: 10.2s

120mph

Volkswagen T-Cross Trims 

S, SE, SEL, R-Line

From basic S to sporty R-Line, there’s a trim level to suit most T-Cross buyers. 

S trim may lack some luxury features but all the essentials are here including alloy wheels, body-coloured trim and a sliding, split-fold rear seat. There’s also an eight-inch infotainment screen with a digital radio and good connectivity. Windows are electric all-round and there are plenty of safety features.

SE is better, though, since it raises the ambience level a few notches with things such as a leather steering wheel, decorative trim inserts and smarter seat cloth. On top of these are different alloy wheels, foglights, lights that come on at dusk, an adjustable boot floor and adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking that’s really handy in town.

It costs £1800 to upgrade from S to SE, though, so it isn't cheap. However, it’s cheaper than going from SE to luxurious SEL, an upgrade that costs £2100. That said, you do get a lot more kit including LED headlights, privacy glass, sports front seats, dual-zone climate control, a sat nav and parking sensors.

And then there’s R-Line which, for £1,900, transforms the T-Cross into a sporty-looking crossover with a bodykit. It’s good fun but an SE, with a design pack, looks better value.

On top of these you can personalise your T-Cross courtesy of a range of factory-fit design packs, each costing around £600. Their names, which include Energetic Orange and Bamboo Garden Green, tell you that VW sees the T-Cross as very much a fun, lifestyle vehicle as much as something practical. The packs bring suitably coloured alloy wheels and interior trim plus privacy glass, and are optional on SE and SEL trims. 

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Volkswagen T-Cross Reliability and warranty 

The T-Cross is too new to have accumulated any reliability data. The Volkswagen Polo, on which it’s based, doesn't figure in the Auto Express Driver Power 2018 survey which doesn't bode well. On the other hand, VWs have a reputation for being solidly built and dependable, and on the strength of this early acquaintance, the T-Cross looks like maintaining it.

It carries a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty or a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which for most buyers financing their T-Cross on a PCP will be sufficient.

Used Volkswagen T-Cross 

The first used T-Cross cars should start entering the market in strong measurable numbers soon. Their prices will have to reflect the discounts available on new ones, so they should represent a useful saving.

Cheapest will be S 1.0 TSI 95 models in plain colours. We’d avoid these and instead go for 1.0 TSI 115 SE or SEL models in a classy metallic finish which new, will have cost from £600.

New, the optional design packs are inexpensive so a used T-Cross SE or SEL fitted with one shouldn't cost much more than one without.