The Volkswagen T-Cross SUV is one of the newest additions to VW's ever-growing and seemingly endless range of SUVs. It was launched in 2019 after being teased as a concept car in 2016. The T-Cross sits alongside the similarly-sized T-Roc but has some features which make it both a little more practical than its sibling, and potentially a bit cheaper too.
Volkswagen has been very quick to capitalise on the current insatiable demand for tall and chunky SUV-style cars and their added benefits including a raised driving position, excellent headroom and the ability to deftly handle undulating UK roads, meaning that if you're in the market for this type of car then you'd do well to have a stroll around the VW showroom and see what takes your fancy from Volkswagen's range.
With a practical interior that belies its size, the Volkswagen T-Cross is likely to be very popular with families making a decision about which of the growing crop of small SUVs is the perfect car for their needs. With a generous range of standard equipment in the SE models, and the option of some sporting touches in the R Line models or the Black Edition, this car has something to offer everyone. This Volkswagen T-Cross review will look at some of the features and benefits of this small SUV, and why you should consider one if you are hunting for a compact crossover.
In true VW style, the Volkswagen T-Cross is sophisticated, understated and conservative in its design. Its compact dimensions give it a chic and attractive look, if not particularly exciting. In fact, buyers may be more tempted by the slightly quirkier T-Roc, although the T-Cross has been designed more with practicality in mind, with a little more space inside and some extra features that families will love, including sliding rear seats. There are some small colourful details including the option to have some orange interior trim panels to lift the interior, but generally the Volkswagen T-Cross is a serious, sober car.
The T-Cross is faithful to Volkswagen's design language and is noticeably related to its other SUV models including the larger Tiguan and Touareg, giving it the true family look and reassuring buyers that this will be a high quality product. The T-Cross is immediately recognisable as a Volkswagen.
The Volkswagen T-Cross also follows the established SUV formula to a tee; it is tall and wide, with chunky off-road styling, big bumpers, prominent front fog lights and black roof rails, or silver roof rails in higher spec T-Cross models. The wheels have been pushed out to the corners of the car to maximise the interior space, make it feel sure-footed on the road, and give it a nippy sensation when driving in tight city streets.
The interior of the Volkswagen T-Cross is standard SUV fare, with high-set seats that you need to clamber up into rather than down into as you would in a standard hatchback. This gives you a good view of the road and the car's surroundings, and helps make it easy to drive as a result.
It is unmistakably Volkswagen inside, with switchgear which will be familiar to drivers of any VW Group product. Buyers will find this reassuring because it is good quality and durable. There is always an element of style and luxury inside a Volkswagen, and the T-Cross is faithful to that. The interior is modern, with a reasonably-sized touch screen to control the infotainment system, USB sockets for charging or connecting your tech equipment, and real buttons on the centre console which are easy to use and reassuringly solid to operate on the move.
The interior of the T-Cross is largely based around the similarly-sized Polo, which means it is nicely styled and generally built to a high standard. The key word here is "sensible;" don't expect a triumph of style, but equally don't expect to be offended by outlandish design. There are some changes made to the interior to set it apart from the Polo a little and give it more of a chunky SUV style, but unfortunately some of these have resulted in cheaper feeling, scratchy plastics instead of the softer materials seen in the Polo. There are some padded areas for your elbows on the door panels though, which mitigates this a little.
If you go upward through the range you will see evidence of some higher quality materials in the cabin, with different upholstery and trim panels featuring in the sporty R-Line, luxurious SE L, classy Black Edition or energetic Active trim. This is one of those scenarios where you get what you pay for, so if you are looking for a more characterful interior then look higher up the T-Cross range.
The seats are comfortable and supportive with plenty of adjustment, and sportier models in the range, such as the R-Line trim, come with sports seats which add to the appeal and hold the occupant nicely into their seat. The high roofline ensures there is plenty of headroom, and the long and wide wheelbase of this small SUV allows for a surprisingly good amount of space for the driver and passengers.
Five passengers can sit in reasonable comfort, including in the back seats where even the centre rear passenger will not be unduly hindered by the transmission tunnel, which is set low and out of the way. If you are transporting taller passengers you can even slide the rear bench backwards to give them a little more legroom. There is room for two child seats on the outer rear seats, with ISOFIX mounting points to help secure them more easily.
Exemplary German ergonomics are in full swing inside the VW T-Cross, as you would expect from a German marque that prides itself on intuitive controls. All the switchgear is nicely damped and reassuring to use, and is within easy reach. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake and it is easy to get comfortable inside the T-Cross.
The Volkswagen T-Cross is designed with families in mind and to that end there are plenty of useful storage cubbies dotted around the cabin, including a thoughtful drawer that slides out from under the driver's seat. This helps prevent the cabin being littered with toys and tissues and everything else that the average family needs to lug around.
The party piece of the VW T-Cross is the sliding rear bench seat, which moves backwards and forwards to either create more passenger space or boot space as your needs dictate. This is rare in this class of small SUV and is usually the preserve of larger vehicles. The seats also split 60/40 to aid loading of larger items.
Boot space is decent, with higher specification models having a variable height boot floor which adjusts for height and creates either a hidden space under the floor, or deeper storage if you need it. You will not realise you needed a variable boot floor until you discover quite how useful it is!
As a small SUV the Volkswagen T-Cross uses a range of small and efficient petrol and diesel engine units, which provide the perfect mix of flexibility, nippiness and fuel economy. These engines have been seen across the VW Group range and are tried, tested and reliable.
The cornerstone of the petrol range is the surprisingly peppy 1.0 TSI turbocharged engine, which is available in two power options. The entry level range has 95bhp and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, and above this is a 110bhp version which comes in either six speed manual or DSG automatic versions. You will find the more powerful version easier to live with and more responsive in most driving situations, but if fuel economy is the priority over power or you live in a city, then the 95bhp unit should be fine.
You will need an upgrade to at least SE L trim for the next engine up, which is Volkswagen's 1.5 TSi turbocharged engine with 150bhp, mated to a seven speed DSG gearbox. This unit is well regarded for smooth power delivery, particularly mated to the DSG gearbox; VW have made a good call here by making this exclusively automatic.
There was initially a 1.6 TDi diesel engine, but this has been discontinued since launch to allow the range to focus on the more popular petrol versions, which were almost as economical. At the moment there are no electric or hybrid versions of the Volkswagen T-Cross. Each version is available in front wheel drive, with no current four wheel drive option.
The lofty driving position makes the Volkswagen T-Cross easy and satisfying to drive, with a view of all four corners to help you nip into gaps or park, and the ability to see above traffic or over hedge lines to help you spot hazards. There is also the backup of the impressive suite of safety and driver assistance systems including blind spot detection and Automatic Emergency Braking just in case the unexpected is lurking.
You will notice the light steering wheel controls and pedals, which make for a stress-free driving experience, and will keep you feeling fresh on long journeys or after a rush hour commute across a busy town or city. However, there is just enough feedback to keep you feeling involved and give you confidence in its abilities. Volkswagen is good at providing predictable and sure-footed driving experiences, and the T-Cross is no different.
If you are looking for performance then plump for a 1.5 TSi version, which will get quickly up to motorway speeds and make good progress. However, this is a small SUV so in most situations the 1.0 TSi should do the job perfectly. Don't expect it to break any land speed records, but you will find that it can keep up with traffic and skip nimbly away from the traffic lights when it needs to.
The tall body lends itself to a bit of wind noise at higher speeds or in blustery conditions, otherwise the VW T-Cross feels like a high-quality car with plenty of sound proofing to prevent too much road noise disturbing the peace in the cabin. The ride quality is supple and the handling is confident, with decent suspension which soaks up bumps without being too wallowy, or too stiff on the other hand. There is also little noticeable decline on larger wheels, so feel free to specify the big alloys.
The steering wheel controls, manual switches and touchscreen infotainment system are all simple and intuitive to use, and are within easy reach of the driving seat. The interior environment is pleasant without becoming too distracting from the driving experience.
The trim levels of the Volkswagen T-Cross models are broadly consistent with other cars in the VW range, so it should not be difficult to choose the right one for you, particularly if you are an existing VW owner.
Early models featured an S trim as the entry level, which had 16" alloy wheels, air conditioning and electric windows but otherwise was fairly basic in nature.
The current entry level model in the T-Cross line-up is the SE, which is well equipped as standard, with 17" alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric folding mirrors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto operated via a touchscreen. It also comes with an impressive array of safety equipment and driver assistance systems including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), lane assist, parking sensors, blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control.
The funky Active trim adds to the SE trim with sat nav, rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, and the Winter Pack, which features heated front seats and heated windscreen washer nozzles.
The classy Black Edition adds full LED headlights and rear lights, individual 17" alloy wheels, and a Black Edition interior styling pack including a specific seat trim and sportier seats.
The SE L trim is similar to the Black Edition and Active but more concentrated on luxury touches including silver roof rails and chrome detailing.
The R-Line tops the range with R body styling, 18" alloy wheels and Volkswagen's slick Digital Cockpit Pro, which turns the dashboard entirely digital.
One of the best things about the Volkswagen T-Cross is that VW has seen fit to load it up with safety equipment as standard, placing it well ahead of cheaper rivals but also more expensive cars. Depending on your selected trim level, the T-Cross is fitted with a large number of airbags, as well as passive and active safety systems including AEB, ABS, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control that ensures you stay a safe distance behind the traffic ahead.
The VW T-Cross scored a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test, with an impressive 97% score for adult occupant safety, 86% for child occupants, 81% for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, and 80% for safety assistance technology. This makes the T-Cross a very safe car in anybody's book, and you can have confidence that your family will be as safe as possible aboard this SUV.
The T-Cross has full access to the vast VW Group parts bin, which means that pretty much all the components are high quality and well made. They are also reasonably plentiful if anything needs replacing, and there is a good network of Volkswagen dealers and also VW specialists if you need servicing or repairs.
As with any other car, the reliability of the VW T-Cross depends on the owner taking care of it, ensuring that wearable items are replaced on time and the service schedule is adhered to. There are few horror stories with these cars or the tried and tested engines, but listen for noises from the turbo and look out for cars which have had heavy family use or have been driven solely in urban environments, either of which could mean that it is worn out before its time.
At the time of writing the Volkswagen T-Cross is approaching three years old, so there are some decent used examples coming on to the second hand market starting from around £16,000 for a 1.0 litre, lower spec model . They are rarer than the T-Roc, so you might have to look a bit harder for your perfect car, but it will be out there somewhere.
You can order a new Volkswagen T-Cross right now, with an on the road price starting at £21,430 for a 1.0 litre TSi SE version, £22,000 for an Active or Black Edition, £24,515 for an SE L and rising to £26,405 for a sporty R-Line version. Each has plenty of standard equipment but there is also a hefty options list to consult if you fancy some extra toys on your T-Cross.
If you are looking for a dependable small SUV with enough space for the family to travel in comfort and safety, for a reasonable price, then the Volkswagen T-Cross could be the perfect car for you. Admittedly, it can be a challenge to tell it apart from some of Volkswagen's many other SUVs, and it is perhaps not the most enthralling of cars to look at or drive, but the T-Cross will offer reliability, dependability and a reassuringly predictable driving experience.