New Volkswagen T-Cross facelift review: VW’s baby SUV gets a midlife refresh

Volkswagen's latest updates have given the T-Cross some much-needed interior upgrades, but not much else

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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The T-Cross has been given fairly minimal changes for this mid-life refresh. It feels more like a proper Volkswagen with the improvements to interior quality, but the overall driving experience is still rather dull. Pricing and competitive finance deals will again prove key to the success of the T-Cross small SUV. 

More than 1.2 million Volkswagen T-Cross models have been sold since the car’s launch four years ago. Keen to build on the popularity of its compact SUV, the maker has revealed a facelited T-Cross – and now we’ve been given an early chance to drive one on European roads.

The market for small SUVs remains as competitive as ever. The VW’s Skoda Kamiq sibling was updated earlier this year, while rivals now span everything from the Toyota Yaris Cross and Renault Captur, to the Peugeot 2008 and Ford Puma. So, the T-Cross will have a tough job to stand out in its field. 

VW has set about making the new car look different at least. Visual changes to the T-Cross include new front and rear bumpers, revised fog lights, LED head and tail-lights, plus on the sportier R-Line variant we’re trying here, some new 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Equipment levels have been upped for the new T-Cross, too. Every model gets a digital driver’s display, and there’s a standard-fit eight-inch central touchscreen – with higher trims featuring a 9.2-inch screen. The infotainment itself is easily navigable and the resolution is impressively crisp. An ‘Air-Care Climatronic’ automatic air conditioning system is available as an option and yes, it does come with VW’s frustrating touch slider controls. Although they are at least back-lit now.  

A major issue we had with the T-Cross before, was the lack of quality materials in the cabin. VW has gone some way to address this, and the dash panel and door cards now feature soft-upholstered and significantly higher-quality materials. There’s also a new leather steering wheel lifted from the Volkswagen Golf

In terms of practicality, the T-Cross is pretty average for the class. Headroom is decent enough front and rear, plus the sliding rear bench is a nice touch. The 385-litre boot is down on its Skoda and SEAT siblings, however, as well as the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke

Mechanically, the new T-Cross is the same as the old one, and our car was equipped with the most powerful 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 148bhp and 250Nm of torque. Power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to the front wheels, with an 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds. It’s an engine with plenty of poke for a car of this size and feels responsive enough, though we suspect most will stick with the more affordable turbocharged 1.0-litre. The brakes in our car felt robust, inspiring plenty of confidence for hard stops.

The automatic transmission remains a sticking point for us, however. It’s jerky at low speeds and slow to kick down during hard acceleration. Fuel efficiency is still pretty good however, despite it being the more powerful offering, VW claims a combined 47.8mpg. 

As before, the T-Cross rides pretty well. Our car’s larger 18-inch wheels caused it to fidget slightly over low-speed bumps and potholes, but for the most part the T-Cross is one of the more comfortable small SUVs on sale.

Model:Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line
Price:£31k (est)
Engine:1.5-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
Transmission:Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:8.4 seconds
Top speed:124mph
On sale:Early 2024
Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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