New Volkswagen T-Cross 2019 review

The new Volkswagen T-Cross is the firm’s smallest SUV, and it looks accomplished next to cheaper rivals

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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We’ve waited quite a while for VW’s new supermini-based SUV to arrive, but the T-Cross is an accomplished small urban crossover that drives well enough, and offers a decent level of space and tech. It also shouldn’t cost too much to run. However, there are rivals that do the same for less, yet sparkle more. We’ll find out how the T-Cross fares in a head-to-head comparison with its closest rivals just as soon as we can.

For every mainstream passenger car Volkswagen sells, there’s now an SUV variant. That’s thanks in part to the brand’s new T-Cross compact urban offering; think of this small SUV as a raised version of the Polo, but with lots of practical advantages.

The first is space. The T-Cross has a 385-litre boot, so there’s an acceptable level of luggage room – as much as a Golf, in fact. But this is with the standard sliding rear seat pushed all the way back. Slide it forward and that figure rises to 455 litres.

• Best small SUVs on sale

However, this set-up leaves hardly any legroom in the rear of the cabin, so you’re better off compromising in the middle. Then, the T-Cross is spacious enough, helped by a lofty roofline that means rear passengers of most shapes and sizes should be comfy.

Besides, the extra boot space you get by shifting the seats forward might not be that usable. Doing so reveals a big void between the boot floor and the back of the seats that means smaller items might slide out of sight. It’s still a clever feature, but it could have been executed more intelligently.

We have no complaints about the car’s powertrain. Volkswagen’s familiar 113bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit is plenty punchy enough for a car of this size, with 0-62mph taking 10.2 seconds. The flexibility afforded by its 200Nm of torque means the performance is easily accessible. It’s all delivered with the refinement and polish you’d expect from a VW, with a light, sweet shift from the six-speed manual box.

This feeling also extends to the car’s ride and handling. The T-Cross sits on VW’s smaller MQB A0 platform and it behaves neatly. The ride is occasionally busy, but it’s settled on the motorway and absorbent at lower speeds in urban areas.

It’s on bumpy mid-speed country roads – with inconsistent surfaces and corners – where it struggles to cope sometimes, but this isn’t too often or really any worse than in its rivals. Besides, for a car that’s quite a bit taller than a Polo, it controls its roll well.

The steering is light – disconcertingly so at times – but this at least gives the T-Cross a feeling of agility; the chassis is keen to turn in and the car is easy to manoeuvre in town.

Despite these positive points, the T-Cross does feel like it lacks a definite personality. The bright colours, flashy orange alloys and continuation of the theme inside (for £525) don’t seem to fit with the rest of the car.

They mask a few quality issues, too, with hard plastics covering the cabin. Luckily the worst bits are largely out of reach; it’s clear cash has been spent on the areas you often come into contact with, like the infotainment.

This is VW’s usual eight-inch colour touchscreen with bright graphics and good connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on SE trim and above, so you don’t necessarily need to spec sat-nav.

Emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane assist and adaptive cruise control are standard, along with Bluetooth, air-conditioning, DAB radio and two USB ports. We don’t think you’d really need much more, so at £19,555 in this most popular 1.0 TSI 115 SE spec, the price is palatable – even alongside the slightly cheaper SEAT Arona. Remember, most people buy cars like these on PCP finance, which lessens any potential gap anyway.

While the T-Cross might be a little pricier than its rival, it should be just as affordable to run. VW claims up to 47.9mpg on the WLTP tests, and with CO2 emissions of 112g/km and a 26 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rating, company car tax won’t be too dear.

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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