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Driven: Volkswagen T-Cross. Image by Volkswagen UK.

Driven: Volkswagen T-Cross
What have we here? A funky, youthful VW crossover? Yes, and it’s pleasant to drive, as well.


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Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI SE 115

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: tidy looks, appealing cabin, usual Volkswagen refinement, surprisingly adept chassis

Not so good: some of its best interior features are cost options; avoid some of the gaudier colour combinations, for fear of the Stringfellow Effect

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 115 SE manual
Price: T-Cross range from £17,395; 1.0 TSI 115 SE from £19,555, car as tested £22,615
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: 112g/km (VED Band 111-130: £170 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 48.3mpg
Top speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Power: 115hp at 5,000-5,500rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 2,000-3,500rpm
Boot space: 385-1,281 litres

Our view:

You know when you see a man in his 40s, 50s or maybe even 60s, in the throes of what is clearly a midlife crisis? And they've fallen into the Painful-Cliché Trap of wearing clothes designed for much younger blokes? Kind of like the late Peter Stringfellow, at the height of his leopard-print failure of good taste? Right, now look at this Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI SE, a rather unassuming crossover finished in Energetic Orange metallic (£575) with a Titan Black/Orange/Ceramique cloth interior, plus the Energetic Orange 17-inch Alloy Design Pack (£525) with its orange diamond-turned wheels, its Energetic Orange door mirror caps, its Transition dashpad in Energetic Orange/Grey, its centre console in, yes, Energetic Orange, and the 65 per cent-tinted glass from the B-pillar backwards, and try not to imagine a grinning Stringfellow in a tiger-print thong and nothing else...

We're sorry to enforce such... vivid mental imagery on you, but this Energetic Orange thing is a bit much, isn't it? Now, we're all for manufacturers offering bright colour choices in the palette of various models, and we're certainly all for Volkswagen injecting a bit of youthful enthusiasm into its range, products which have been a mite staid over the years, but there's risky and then there's this. We could probably just about live with the interior finishing (although we think we'd have to have a plain-black dashpad, truth be told), yet the fact the alloys aren't the same colour as the bodywork (despite the fact they're both named the same) triggers our OCD.

Of course, these opening opinions can be wholly disregarded. Because you absolutely do not have to have the Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI SE in Energetic Orange with a second layer of Energetic Orange, an Energetic Orange soft centre and a side helping of Energetic Orange with extra Energetic Orange if you don't want to. And, if you can look beyond the eye-catching colour scheme, what you have here - as you might expect of the mighty industry heavyweight that is VW - is one of the best B-segment crossovers in the sector.

For a start, it's a nicely styled little thing. The black-plastic lower body cladding, the dark roof rails, the discreet roof spoiler, those silver skid-bar-type details fore and aft, that full-width light-and-logo detail above the rear number plate; all of it adds up to a handsome whole when it comes to the T-Cross. It's not as distinctive as some competitors in this class, nor is it (arguably) quite as adventurous as the larger T-Roc or, even, the very in-group rival it must beat to top the class, in the sharply creased little form of the SEAT Arona. But it is a good-looking machine, as evinced by the fact there's a grey T-Cross SE in our village which still looks pretty tasty, despite it being minus ALL OF THE ORANGE.

And that interior is typical VW proficiency and excellence. You don't get digital instrument clusters or anything particularly showy (apart from that dashpad), but you do get ergonomics which are absolutely bang on, and crisp, tidy displays, and that sort of quietly confident level of quality material finishing that only a Volkswagen seems to have at this kind of price point. Space in the rear seats is decent enough that you can conceive of the idea of four actual-sized adults sitting onboard the T-Cross in relative comfort, while the boot is a good size too, at 385 litres. Not enough for you? Then you can slide the second row of chairs forward to increase that to 455 litres. Clever packaging. A shame, then, that on the otherwise keenly priced SE variant, the eight-inch colour touchscreen Discover Nav package is a £725 option. Or that twin-zone climate control will set you back another £845. Harrumph.

To drive, this car has the sweet 115hp 1.0-litre turbocharged triple and it does a fine job of moving the 1,250kg T-Cross SE about. It's never quick, but it is charming enough with that little offbeat trill to it as you accelerate smartly, while the transmission and engine are wonderfully smooth in operation all the way around the rev counter. The ride's good too, although noise suppression is only kind of so-so - there's perhaps a touch too much road roar coming into the cabin, a direct corollary of this being one of Volkswagen's cheapest (most inexpensive?) new cars and so not being stuffed with a dreadnought's-worth of sound-deadening. What you can't argue with, though, is a best fuel return of 57.1mpg on nothing more than a country A-road, with an overall 45.1mpg across 223 miles of testing proving that maybe these little petrol triples aren't so devilishly thirsty after all.

What's best about the T-Cross is that it preserves a lot of the Arona's enjoyable handling sharpness, without doing that thing of layering it in Volkswagen's usual veneer of dynamic stodge. Too often, VWs go for refinement over any sort of meaningful driver interactivity but there's little doubt the T-Cross is one of the nicest B-segment crossovers to drive. It has light yet good steering, not possessed of any genuine feel but consistent enough in its responses to allow you to build an impressive rapport with a front axle that's considerably resistant to understeer. There's squidge in the suspension, which allows the VW to ride nicely, so there's more roll and pitch in the T-Cross than you'd find in most superminis; despite this, you can easily work around the notable weight transfer and genuinely enjoy the little Volkswagen's charmingly engaging manners.

So it was perhaps unfair of us to start a review of a thoroughly excellent little crossover by making a comparison to an image of a semi-naked northern strip-club owner, purely because the VW PR team happened to send us a Tangoed T-Cross. However, we're happy to admit that this Volkswagen is one of the more interesting cars in its class, and one which deserves at least a restrained sprinkling of the company's bold exterior/interior colour choices. Just don't go the full David Dickinson on it and you'll be left with a real bobby dazzler of a B-segment crossover.


Citroen C3 Aircross: has striking exterior looks and a smooth ride, although the Aircross doesn't steer as well as the T-Cross.

Honda HR-V: the Honda's big trick is its clever Magic Seats in the back, which allow for the carrying of tall items. Pleasant chassis and drivetrains, not massively exciting to look at or own.

Vauxhall Crossland X: oh dear. If you wonder why Vauxhall gets a bad rap, and you think it's sometimes unfair criticism, drive a Crossland X. And then drive a T-Cross, to see how a B-segment crossover should be done.

Matt Robinson - 5 Aug 2019    - Volkswagen road tests
- Volkswagen news
- T-Cross images

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.2019 Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 SE UK test. Image by Volkswagen UK.


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