Review: Volkswagen T-Cross (2018)
Comfortable and easy to drive. Surprisingly practical and spacious. Excellent 1.0-litre petrol.
More hard plastics inside than we'd like, diesel is noisy and unrefined.
Volkswagen T-Cross (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £16,995, brokers can source from £15,460
- Contract hire deals from £180.65 per month
- On average it achieves 74% of the official MPG figure
The T-Cross is Volkswagen's answer to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 - a small crossover that's designed to be practical, good to drive and have a dash of style too.
Of course there's no shortage of small crossovers on the market, but the T-Cross makes a strong case for itself as the best around with a practical interior, excellent refinement and a great 1.0-litre engine. It's even reasonably priced against the competition, with prices starting at around £17,000.
Think of the T-Cross as a crossover version of the Polo and you get the idea of its size. Its compact dimensions disguise a surprisingly spacious interior though. While its small size makes it great in supermarket car parks, it's big enough inside to make this a viable family car with space for kids in the back and a decent sixed boot too - larger than a Ford Focus in fact.
While the interior is solid and well built, there's quite a lot of hard plastic which is a little disappointing given the 'premium' image. There are a few other small things like the exposed bolts for the base of the back seats.
Thankfully, driving the T-Cross is an easy experience. It's safe and feels very reassuring at motorway speeds where it happily cruises along with little road or wind noise. But what makes the T-Cross stand out is the excellent 1.0 TSI engine - available in two versions.
The three-cylinder unit gives the T-Cross some much needed character and has a surprising turn of pace for such a small engine. That combined with a slick manual gearbox means the T-Cross can actually good fun if you go for the more powerful engine. There is also a 1.6 TDI but unless you're doing mammoth mileages, but it's not particularly refined with lots of noise and vibration making its way into the cabin. We'd recommend sticking with the petrol, as the diesel feels like an afterthought.
Thanks to the entry-level S model, the T-Cross has a competitive starting price against its rivals. Indeed, the T-Cross will tick a lot of boxes for buyers who want a vehicle that is comfortable, practical and enjoyable to drive but still compact in size. It makes an ideal family motor and is cheap to run too. We think it's the best small crossover on the market right now.
What does a Volkswagen T-Cross (2018) cost?
Volkswagen T-Cross (2018): What's It Like Inside?
While the T-Cross may be based on the same platform as the Polo, it feels much more spacious inside. Even those over six feet tall will have no problems finding a comfortable driving position with lots of legroom and there's no danger of you bashing elbows with your passenger.
The driver and front passenger each get height-adjustable seats with adjustable lumber support in all versions, including the entry level S. The seats also offer impressive support in what is essentially a 'small' car.
The layout of the interior is far from adventurous but it's very pleasant nonetheless with clear instruments, a simple button layout and an excellent touchscreen. The Volkswagen infotainment system remains the best around, with a clear and attractive design that's intuitive.
There are some hard plastics that don't go with the Volkswagen premium feel, particularly around the doors. There are however, different coloured dash treatments you can get - the rather bold orange in our pictures being one example.
In the back, the exposed bolts under the rear seats don't scream 'premium' either and look like a magnet for children's legs to get scratched on in the summer. On the plus side, there's an unobtrusive central floor tunnel, so there's more foot room.
All models have a sliding rear seat that moves forwards 14cm to increase the load area from 385 litres to 455 litres. That's more than the bigger T-Roc and is a feature that the similar SEAT Arona doesn't offer. It's very handy and there's more than enough room for a pushchair, although it does mean the back seats are pretty unusable as it eats up all the rear legroom.
You can also fold down the rear seat backrests 60/40 to provide a reasonably flat, but quite high load deck that's almost 1.5 metres long.
Usefully, the boot has a height adjustable floor (on SE and above) which creates a handy extra storage space beneath the boot - useful for wellies and picnic blankets. However, if you go for the Beats Sound pack you lose the adjustable floor as the space is taken by a subwoofer.
Standard equipment from launch:
S trim cars are identifiable by their 16-inch ‘Rochester’ alloy wheels, while the entire T-Cross range gets electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors as standard, in addition to an eight-inch touchscreen Composition Media infotainment system with Volkswagen Connect, rear LED tail lights and automatic headlights. Standard-fit Front Assist with the city emergency braking system and Predictive Pedestrian Protection, as well as Lane Assist with blind spot plus lane keeping system and Hill Start Assist. All T-Cross versions have a sliding rear bench seat as standard.
SE models are equipped with 17-inch ‘Clayton’ alloy wheels, black roof rails and front fog lights with cornering function, a leather-trimmed, multifunction steering wheel, and a variable boot floor. Tech highlights include adaptive cruise control, app connect and a driver alert system.
SEL brings 17-inch ‘Chesterfield’ alloys, tinted windows, LED headlights and silver roof rails, as well as front sport seats, carpet mats and an ambient lighting package. Climate control and a Discover Navigation system are also included, while a driver tiredness detection system and front and rear parking sensors also feature.
R-Line models gain 18-inch ‘Navada’ alloy wheels, R-Line exterior and interior styling and Volkswagen’s Active Info Display.
Child seats that fit a Volkswagen T-Cross (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volkswagen T-Cross (2018) like to drive?
The T-Cross is easy to drive and pleasantly smooth, with very little road or wind noise, even at higher speeds. In fact, despite its compact size, the T-Cross feels very assured and stable at motorway speeds, happily keeping up with fast flowing traffic. Here it's very quiet and relaxed.
Models with larger 18-inch wheels emit a slight drone (although the ride quality is still good) but the majority of cars (SE and SEL models) come with 17-inch wheels that ride significantly better. It's perhaps a softer set-up than the SEAT Arona and better controlled than a Kia Stonic, so it deals well through undulations and over crests.
There's also plenty of grip and the steering has a satisfying weight to it. It means the T-Cross is good fun through twists and turns without having to go too quick.
Around town the T-Cross comes into its own thanks to its raised driving position, good all round visibility and responsive yet light steering. The compact dimensions mean you won't struggle when it comes to getting into a tight space, although you have to go to an SEL model to get parking sensors.
While a 1.6 TDI was added to the range shortly after launch, unless you're doing big mileages, we'd opt for the 1.0 TSI. It's a far nicer engine all round and gives the T-Cross some much need character. The 1.6 TDI on the other hand is noisy and lethargic.
There are two versions of the 1.0 TSI - the entry 95PS model available in the S and SE or the more powerful 115PS model which gets a six (rather than five) speed manual.
The five speed actually has a slightly better shift, but both are rewardingly positive while the nicely weighted clutch and well judged throttle response all combine to make this a very pleasant and simple car to drive.
There is also the optional seven-speed DSG which flicks through the gears quickly and smoothly. This is the DQ200 DSG that has some notoriety but seems to suit the 1.0 TSI engine better than any other. There's no hesitation when coming off the brakes and it responds well from a standstill.
All models of the T-Cross are cheap to run with the petrol models claiming to return mid to high 40s for MPG (on the newer WLTP figures) while the 1.6 TDI returns a claimed 53mpg.
|1.0 TSI 115||57–58 mpg||10.2–10.6 s||112–115 g/km|
|1.0 TSI 115 DSG||57–58 mpg||10.2 s||111–112 g/km|
|1.0 TSI 95||55 mpg||11.5 s||112 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Volkswagen T-Cross (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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