There’s a vast array of models to choose from in this segment, but the Volkswagen T-Cross is undoubtedly one of the best. It blends appealing design and compact dimensions with generous cabin space and a high driving position, and that’s pretty much every box ticked for a small SUV buyer. Chuck in its desirable image and sophisticated driving experience, and the comparatively lofty price starts to look a lot more justifiable. Thoroughly recommended.
Compared with other cars in the small SUV segment, the Volkswagen T-Cross isn’t the cheapest to buy, but strong residual values should help to balance out the total cost of ownership. And, with four specification grades, there is something to suit most budgets. Purchase price aside, there’s little else to separate the two petrol engines, because CO2 emissions, fuel economy and insurance groupings are very similar. So, we’d advise going for the more powerful of the two if you can afford the initial outlay, not least for the fact the real world fuel consumption should be better with the more expensive version’s six-speed gearbox. The diesel offers marginal on-paper improvements in CO2 and fuel consumption but, for company drivers, any advantage will likely be wiped out by the diesel surcharge in Benefit In Kind rates so you may want to crunch the numbers carefully before choosing.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Volkswagen T-Cross
As this is Volkswagen’s first T-Cross model, there isn’t any significant reliability data as yet, but it does share its electronics and other parts with other models in the Volkswagen Group. The turbocharged petrol engine also features in several other Volkswagen Group cars from the Skoda Octavia and Karok to the Seat Arona and Volkswagen Polo. Owner reviews of these cars on Auto Trader are generally full of praise for the engine. Volkswagen provides all new models with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and roadside assistance.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Volkswagen T-Cross
All T-Cross models come with six airbags, including curtain airbags for rear passengers. The two outer rear seats come with Isofix child seat mounting points. At slower speeds, if the car detects a potential collision with an object in front, it will automatically apply the brakes. In the event of a more severe collision, the car will hold the brakes on to prevent further impacts. A lane assist system will detect if the car is straying over your lane markings and will alert you. From SE grade up, the T-Cross gains adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a set distance to the car in front even if it slows down. From this spec level up, there is also a driver monitoring system that can detect tiredness and prompt you to take a break if you've been driving for an extended period.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Volkswagen T-Cross
The T-Cross strikes a really good balance of abilities on the road, and as that’s pretty rare with small SUVs, it’s undoubtedly one of the best cars of its type to drive. Perhaps most importantly, it does a good job of keeping you comfortable, mopping up lumps and bumps really effectively while having enough control to stop the body bouncing around on undulating roads. That control also helps keep body roll in check through bends; it leans over a shade more than a Polo due to its top-heavy design, but it still feels impressively tidy and secure. The light steering and tight turning circle is handy around town, and although you don’t get much in the way of feedback, you do at least feel more weight through the wheel when you’re going faster to give you a shade more confidence. To top off an impressively relaxed driving experience, the T-Cross is also pretty good at keeping exterior noises out, helping keep life calm and serene.
Considering its compact exterior dimensions, there’s ample room inside the T-Cross and plenty of storage. Sadly, in the back there’s a raised centre section in the floor, restricting foot space for the person in the middle seat. They also get slightly less headroom than those in the outer seats. However, rear legroom is good for the segment, and the rear bench can slide forwards and backwards to alter boot volume or increase passenger space as required. The rear seats also have a 60:40 split and, when tumbled forward, they lie more or less flush with the boot floor, with only a small lip to get heavy items over.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Volkswagen T-Cross
The T-Cross comes with good levels of standard kit, even in the entry-grade S trim. It features 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows and electric folding door mirrors. The inclusion of an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and DAB radio means that it doesn’t look or feel like the budget model inside. The SE-spec T-Cross gets 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, front fog lights with a cornering function, better smartphone connectivity and adaptive cruise control. The SEL model gets styling upgrades, along with more useful features such as European mapping for the satellite-navigation and speed limit display, along with front and rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate-control. If you’re more image-conscious, the range-topping R-Line model might pique your interest. It receives more distinctive styling by way of unique front and rear bumpers, a roof spoiler and 18-inch wheels. Sports seats in the front are embossed with R-Line logos as well and, instead of the analogue instrument dials, there is a 10.25-inch digital display. Volkswagen offers a range of design packs that allow buyers to further customise the exterior and interior look of the T-Cross through coloured alloy wheels, dashboard panels and upholstery.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Volkswagen T-Cross
The T-Cross engine range is pretty simple, with three petrol options and a sole diesel. The entry-level petrol has 95 horsepower and a five-speed manual gearbox, which makes it better suited to urban and suburban driving. If you regularly travel loaded up or cover more motorway miles you’ll be better off with the more powerful 115 horsepower version if you can afford the extra cost. It feels more responsive when pulling away and feels more relaxed and eager when picking up speed on the move, especially on the motorway. It also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox that’s nicer to use than the five-speeder, but if you’re prepared to spend extra, you can also specify it with a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic. This gearbox is standard on the newly introduced 1.5-litre petrol, the extra power of this four-cylinder engine reflected by the fact it's only available on fancier trim levels. The diesel will suit those racking up bigger mileages but the mid-range petrol remains our pick.