Volkswagen T-Cross review - Engines, performance and drive
Simple engine lineup works well; driving experience safe and easy rather than thrilling
As with most new Volkswagen models, the T-Cross is a car that you can just get into and instantly feel comfortable with. All of the control weights are nicely matched to one another; the clutch engages smoothly when you press the pedal, the throttle response is consistent through the rev range, and the steering is light and precise. Throw in the compact dimensions, and the T-Cross causes little stress when driving around town.
Head out onto the open road, and the handling is safe rather than thrilling. There’s plenty of grip and the balance is neutral, but the steering offers little in the way of feedback. The higher centre of gravity is noticeable when compared to the Polo on which the T-Cross is based, but the driving position is much more like an SUV, so it gives you a good view out.
The ride is smoother than in a SEAT Arona, but the 18-inch wheels of R-Line models make the T-Cross fidget over low-speed bumps more than the smaller wheel sizes, although the VW does settle down the faster you go. The big wheels increase road noise, too, so while it’s not bad for the class, refinement on a motorway cruise is better with the 16- or 17-inch wheels certain models get. The brakes, meanwhile, feel strong and inspire plenty of confidence for emergency stops.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The T-Cross’s engine line-up is straightforward: there’s a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offered with two power outputs (94bhp and 108bhp), and a 1.5-litre petrol unit with 148bhp. The 1.6 TDI diesel with 94bhp that was offered at launch has since been withdrawn.
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The 94bhp petrol and the old diesel models came with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 108bhp petrol version has a six-speed manual; all have the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is standard for the 148bhp variant.
The lesser petrol model is okay, particularly if you only intend to drive around town. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 11.6 seconds, and pulls smoothly from around 2,000rpm, even in fifth gear. It will struggle below that point, so steep uphill sections on a country road may need a downshift. Officially, top speed stands at 112mph.
For most people, we’d recommend the more powerful 108bhp unit. At 200Nm, its maximum torque is 25Nm higher than in the cheaper model, and is available across the same rev range. It’s a similar story when it comes to power: both variants hit peak power at 5,000rpm, but the 108bhp unit can maintain its figure for a further 500rpm. As a result, the ‘bigger’ engine feels stronger at any speed, as shown by its 10.8-second 0-62mph time and 117mph maximum. That acceleration time is the same whether you choose the manual or the automatic gearbox.
The 1.5-litre petrol is only available with SEL and R-Line trims, and unsurprisingly has the best performance figures of the lot. It takes 8.5 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint and the top speed is 124mph. The SEAT Arona and Skoda Kamiq both offer this engine, with the SEAT beating the VW to 62mph by 0.1 seconds and the Skoda taking 10.3 seconds in comparison.
Both the five- and six-speed manual ‘boxes shift smoothly and are paired with a light clutch pedal, which makes driving in heavy traffic easy. The DSG dual-clutch auto, on the other hand, isn’t the best in the business: it can be jerky when parking, and is often slow to kick down when accelerating out of a corner.
In this review
- 1Volkswagen T-Cross reviewThe Volkswagen T-Cross is a competent small SUV, but it’s relatively expensive and lacks pizzazz
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingSimple engine lineup works well; driving experience safe and easy rather than thrilling
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDecent fuel economy and solid residual values point to the T-Cross being reasonable to run
- 4Interior, design and technologySome rivals are more funky to look at, but the T-Cross cabin is smart and the in-car tech is great
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceCubby-filled, spacious cabin made even more versatile thanks to a sliding rear bench seat
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe T-Cross features good levels of standard safety kit, and reliability should prove to be solid