Volkswagen T-Cross long-term review: report 1

The Volkswagen T-Cross impressed us on test, but can it cut the mustard during the daily grind?...

Volkswagen T-Cross side

The car: Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 115 SE

Run by: Alan Taylor-Jones, new cars editor

Why it’s here: To see if Volkswagen’s smallest SUV is worth the extra over the Polo on which it's based

Needs to: Not feel out of its depth on the motorway, be comfortable on long trips and prove more practical than a hatchback

Mileage 505 List price £19,995 Target Price £19,421 Price as tested £22,580 Test economy 41.8mpg Official economy 47.1mpg (WLTP combined) Options fitted Discover Navigation system (£725), Energetic Orange metallic paint (£575), Energetic Orange Design Pack (£525), Active Info Display (£375), Winter Pack (£300), carpet mats (£85)

10 December 2019 – What Car? gets Tangoed

I know it’s said that people tend to look like their dogs, but what about their cars? There’s no doubt many see their four-wheeled friend as an extension of their personality, but I’ve taken it one step further by making my new Volkswagen T-Cross an extension of my beard. 

2019 VW T-Cross long term beard

Now, I’d like to point out that the distinctive shade of orange that’s smeared over the body, wheels and interior of my car isn’t the only reason for me picking it – I’m not that vain, honest – but once the car had been arranged, Energetic Orange metallic paint with a matching Design Pack was a total no-brainer. Other pack colours are available, but black is boring, while the blue would have clashed with my facial foliage terribly.

The real reason for me picking a T-Cross is that it was one of the first small SUVs I’d tried that I could genuinely see on my driveway. After all, many of its rivals feel like lightly lifted hatchbacks that in many ways are inferior to the car on which they’re based. That’s not the case with the T-Cross; an extended period in a very similar example when writing a group test a few months ago proved that it was a genuinely good car not just within its class, but full stop.

For starters, it actually feels like you’re sitting in an SUV, albeit a small one, while the sizeable boot and sliding rear bench mean it can swallow an awful lot of stuff for a car of this size. Considering trips to garden centres and DIY stores seem to be a regular occurrence these days, that’s not just handy for me; it’s vital. Indeed, I've already found out that a 4ft birdcage and accessories will fit in without disassembly. And considering I do 500 miles a week as a bare minimum, the T-Cross’s comfortable ride and tidy handling are arguably the biggest draw of all.

2019 VW T-Cross long term boot space

So, too, is the punchy yet frugal 113bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. Yes, we’d suggest to most people that the lesser 94bhp version is more than adequate, but given the amount of time I spend on the motorway, the additional punch was far too appealing to ignore, as was a sixth gear for quieter cruising manners.

For trips to unfamiliar locations, I’ve added sat-nav, and to show directions as clearly as possible, I’ve replaced the conventional analogue dials and tiny info screen with the £375 Active Info Display digital instrument cluster. This can show a wide variety of information, including the map, right in front of you. It looks pretty swish, too.

Seeing as it’s getting rather chilly out, the heated front seats and washer jets of the £300 Winter Pack were a temptation I couldn’t resist. Finally, front and rear mats are always a necessity in my book. 

2020 VW T-Cross long term side

I do have an admission, though; there’s one option I didn’t add and I’m already kicking myself for it. You see, SE-spec T-Crosses don’t get parking sensors or a rear-view camera as standard, and I forgot to add them from the options list. My excuse is that in this day and age, not having parking sensors on an otherwise well-equipped car costing nearly £20,000 is unbelievably stingy.

Even with that howling gaffe on my part, I’m still warming to my T-Cross. That little three-cylinder engine is impressively refined for the class and it certainly feels pretty nippy. The ride could be a little less lumpy around town, but on the A-roads, dual carriageways and motorways where I spend so much time, the ride is surprisingly plush for a car of this size. And should the M25 be at a standstill, the T-Cross doesn’t mind being hustled along a few tight and twisty B-roads. With all that in mind, the next six months should be rather pleasant.

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