In-depth reviews

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 linear, 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 this is more than balanced out by the fact that the high driving position gives improved visibility.

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. The big wheels increase road noise too, so while it’s not bad for the class, refinement is better with the 17-inch wheels on a motorway cruise. The brakes, meanwhile, feel strong and inspire plenty of confidence for emergency stops.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The T-Cross engine lineup is straightforward: there’s a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offered in two power outputs (94bhp and 109bhp), 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 The 1.6 TDI diesel with 94bhp that was offered at launch has since been withdrawn. Both 94bhp petrol and the old diesel models are available with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 109bhp petrol version has a six-speed manual - all have the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch auto 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 109bhp unit. At 200Nm, its torque maximum is 25Nm higher than the cheaper model, and is available across the same rev range. It’s a similar story when it comes to power: both variants hit their power peak at 5,000rpm, but the 109bhp unit can maintain its figure for a further 500 revs. 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 auto gearbox.

Both the five and six-speed manual boxes shift smoothly and are paired to a light clutch pedal which makes traffic driving easy. The DSG, 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. 

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