New Volkswagen T-Cross vs Seat Arona vs Suzuki Vitara
Volkswagen’s new T-Cross has its sights set firmly on being the best small SUV you can buy. That means beating the Seat Arona and Suzuki Vitara...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
These cars may be touted as small SUVs, but just how high do you sit in them? Going off the same point, where your hip comes up to on the seatback with the seat as low as it can go, the Vitara is the loftiest, positioning you nearly 100mm higher than the Arona, which is barely any taller than a regular hatch. The T-Cross places you just over 40mm higher than the Arona – enough to avoid feeling like you’re driving a Volkswagen Polo. Even so, visibility is poorest in the T-Cross, because it has the thickest rear pillars. It’s also the only car here to not come with any kind of reversing aids as standard.
Although all three cars have plenty of seat adjustment, some of our testers felt the Arona’s steering wheel couldn’t be pushed in far enough. It’s a shame, because it has good seats, with plenty of side support, a comfortable base and decent lower back support even without lumbar adjustment.
Although the T-Cross is the only car here with adjustable lumbar support (something that isn’t even an option on the other two), more than one tester found that the base of the optional sports seat (part of the £525 Design Pack) dug into their hamstrings when operating the clutch. This only becomes annoying in town driving, though, and might be less of an issue with the standard seats (which we haven’t tried yet). As for the Vitara, its seat has the flimsiest side bolsters, so you flop around the most through corners, although the seats are comfortable enough when you’re cruising.
The Arona’s steering wheel is covered in much coarser leather than the other two, so it doesn’t feel quite as good to hold. All of its interior plastics are hard and unyielding, too, although they feel robust. Thankfully, there’s a squishy pad for your elbow on the door-mounted armrest, although you don’t get a central armrest. You need to jump all the way up to Xcellence trim for that, and there’s no way of changing the rather drab satin-finish dash inserts on SE Technology trim, either.
The T-Cross may have similar ingredients to the Arona – there’s no soft plastic like you’ll find in the cheaper Polo – but it’s slightly more upmarket inside, and you get a sliding and tilting central armrest. In addition to the sports seats, the Design Pack adds tinted rear windows and colourful inserts on the dash and centre console (in orange, green or black, with matching wheels), livening up the interior significantly.
Although the Vitara is the only one of our contenders with a soft-touch dashboard, the rest of the plastics just aren’t as sturdy, making it feel a little low-rent inside. At least you get a sliding central armrest to make long journeys a bit comfier.