Volkswagen T-Cross review

Category: Small SUV

The T-Cross is a roomy and versatile small SUV that's good to drive with decent fuel economy

VW T-Cross front cornering
  • VW T-Cross front cornering
  • VW T-Cross rear cornering
  • VW T-Cross dashboard
  • VW T-Cross boot open
  • VW T-Cross infotainment touchscreen
  • VW T-Cross right driving
  • VW T-Cross front left driving
  • VW T-Cross front right driving
  • VW T-Cross rear right driving
  • VW T-Cross left static boot open
  • VW T-Cross rear lights
  • VW T-Cross front seats
  • VW T-Cross back seats
  • VW T-Cross steering wheel detail
  • VW T-Cross air-con controls
  • VW T-Cross interior detail
  • VW T-Cross interior detail
  • VW T-Cross front cornering
  • VW T-Cross rear cornering
  • VW T-Cross dashboard
  • VW T-Cross boot open
  • VW T-Cross infotainment touchscreen
  • VW T-Cross right driving
  • VW T-Cross front left driving
  • VW T-Cross front right driving
  • VW T-Cross rear right driving
  • VW T-Cross left static boot open
  • VW T-Cross rear lights
  • VW T-Cross front seats
  • VW T-Cross back seats
  • VW T-Cross steering wheel detail
  • VW T-Cross air-con controls
  • VW T-Cross interior detail
  • VW T-Cross interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

At first glance, the Volkswagen T-Cross doesn't seem like a model VW really needs in its line-up.

After all, alongside the T-Cross you'll find the VW Taigo – which is basically a T-Cross with a sleeker roof – and the slightly larger VW T-Roc. Indeed, you might even find yourself trying to choose between these three small SUVs.

Look a little closer, though, and you'll see there are some key differences. The T-Cross is available with less-powerful engines and more spartan trim levels, for example, so it can be significantly cheaper to buy if you select your spec carefully. It also has some clever tricks, including sliding rear seats, so in some ways it's a more versatile car.

If you're trying to find the best small SUV for your needs, you might also be considering the Skoda Kamiq (which shares many of its parts with the T-Cross) or the Nissan Juke. There's also the fun-to-drive Ford Puma to consider.

So, is the VW T-Cross the best choice, or would you better off with on one of its rivals? Read on to find out...

Overview

The VW T-Cross is spacious and good to drive (although the Ford Puma is more fun), but if you're looking at top-of-the-range versions, consider the more sophisticated T-Roc, which is likely to be a better option. If you do buy a T-Cross, we recommend the 1.0 TSI 95 petrol engine and mid-range Match spec.

  • Spacious, flexible interior
  • Impressive for safety
  • Good to drive
  • Only slightly cheaper than the superior T-Roc
  • Engines could be more flexible above town speeds
  • Top-spec Style and R-Line trims too pricey
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Volkswagen T-cross 1.0 TSI Match 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Cheapest engine offers adequate performance
  • +Good ride and handling balance

Weaknesses

  • -VW T-Roc offers a smoother ride and is quieter
  • -Ford Puma is more agile and fun to drive

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The entry-level petrol engine (badged 1.0 TSI 95) is all you'll really need. It's not as nippy as a Ford Puma but serves up adequate performance, managing 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds. It comes with a five-speed manual gearbox.

There's also a more powerful version of the same engine called the 1.0 TSI 115, which offers slightly quicker acceleration (0-62mph in 10.0 seconds). It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard but you can pay extra to have a seven-speed automatic gearbox instead. We'd stick with the TSI 95 unless you really want an auto box.

Finally, there's the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol, which comes with the auto gearbox and offers much punchier acceleration than the cheaper engines.

Suspension and ride comfort

The T-Cross isn't quite as comfy as a Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Roc but rides pretty well compared with most other small SUVs. It’s less fidgety than the firmer Kia Stonic for example, and far more controlled and less bouncy than a Citroën C3 Aircross.

For the best ride, we'd recommend avoiding the biggest 18in alloy wheels, which are optional on some trims (the difference between 16in and 17in rims isn't that noticeable).

VW T-Cross rear cornering

Handling

Those looking for something easy to drive in town will find the T-Cross's light steering a boon. It's particularly helpful when you’re trying to park or weave through traffic, yet there's enough weight and precision to give you confidence when driving at higher speeds.

Volkswagen T-Cross image
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The T-Cross isn't quite as agile or fun on winding roads as the stiffer Puma, but there’s plenty of grip and body lean is fairly well controlled.

Noise and vibration

The 1.0-litre petrol engines are pretty hushed by small SUV standards and only makes a distinctive chirp when revved hard.

There isn't too much road noise (unless you option for the biggest 18in all0y wheels), although the Kamiq and T-Roc are noticeably quieter cruisers, with a bit less wind noise at motorway speeds.

If you go for a version with a manual gearbox, you'll find the gearshift smooth and accurate, while the automatic swaps cogs without any obviously jerkiness, even at manoeuvring speeds.

“The 1.5 TSI 150 petrol offers great performance and works well with the standard seven-speed automatic gearbox. Shame it's so pricey.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Comfortable driving position
  • +Decent infotainment system
  • +Smart interior

Weaknesses

  • -Fiddly climate control panel on higher trims
  • -Reversing camera costs extra

Driving position and dashboard

The VW T-Cross is no Range Rover in terms of driver elevation, but it does place you further from the road than many of its small SUV rivals – including the Ford Puma and Kia Stonic – and you sit much higher up than in a Skoda Kamiq.

Aside from how high you sit, the whole arrangement feels similar to that of the VW Polo (which shares underpinnings with the T-Cross). That's a good thing because it means there’s a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment, including standard height adjustment for the driver on all trims, plus a height-adjustable centre armrest.

A slight demerit is the two-zone climate control system fitted to Style trim and above, which has touch-sensitive controls that are fiddly to use on the move. Cheaper trim levels have manual air-conditioning with proper knobs and buttons.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Narrow windscreen pillars keep the view forwards unobstructed, but as with many of its rivals, the T-Cross’s chunky rear pillars are a bit of a hindrance when looking back over your shoulder.

Fear not, though: all versions have front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera is standard on Match trim and available as an option on others.

Bright LED headlights come as standard, with upgraded adaptive matrix LED lights fitted to Style models. The matrix lights shape their beam automatically to illuminate as much of the road as possible without dazzling other drivers.

VW T-Cross dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

As standard, every T-Cross comes with an 8.0in colour infotainment touchscreen, four USB-C ports (two up front and two in the rear) and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Style trim and above gets you a built-in sat-nav while a larger 9.2in screen is available as an option across the range.

The operating system is similar whichever screen size you choose (we wouldn't bother paying the extra) and is pretty easy to get to grips with. True, some of the smaller icons can be hard to hit while driving, but overall it's definitely better than the system in a Peugeot 2008.

The standard six-speaker sound system can be upgraded to a 300W Beats equivalent with a subwoofer, which adds bass and improves sound quality, but not by enough to justify the extra cost.

Quality

Earlier versions of the T-Cross were disappointing in terms of interior quality but an update in 2024 has improved matters. Much of the scratchy and hollow-sounding plastic on the dashboard was replaced with denser-feeling soft-touch materials.

There are still some scratchy plastics but they’re now better hidden, and everything feels well screwed together. On Style and R-Line versions there's even a stitched leather panel on the face of the dashboard.

Overall, interior quality is a bit better than in a Ford Puma or Seat Arona and roughly on a par with the VW T-Roc. If you want a small SUV with a really classy interior check out the Audi Q2.

“Most versions of the T-Cross have an 8.0in digital drivers display behind the steering wheel. I wouldn't bother paying extra for the 10.2in version.” – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Spacious for occupants all round
  • +Good interior stowage
  • +Versatile sliding rear seats

Weaknesses

  • -Rivals offer more boot space
  • -Some small SUVs have wider interiors

Front space

You’ll have no problem fitting in the front of the VW T-Cross, even if you’re tall. Leg room is as generous as it is in a VW Polo and there’s plenty of head room.

It’s not exactly cramped width-wise, but the slightly broader VW T-Roc offers a bit more elbow room between you and your passenger.

Interior storage is plentiful. There’s a sliding drawer under the driver’s seat, a large glovebox and door bins, plus a multitude of trays, cubbies and cupholders for all your odds and ends.

Rear space

Rear space in the T-Cross is impressive by small SUV standards. There’s more leg and head room than in the back of the Seat Arona for example, with enough for a couple of six-footers to be comfortable, even when sitting behind people of the same height. The Skoda Kamiq has even more leg room though.

A definite bonus is the T-Cross's unobtrusive central floor tunnel. It allows the middle rear passenger to slide into their seat without much clambering and doesn't force them to straddle a wide hump. That said, the T-Roc is more generous for shoulder room in the back, so if you regularly need to seat three adults in the rear it could be a better choice.

VW T-Cross boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

The T-Cross's rear seat bench slides back and forth to allow you to prioritise boot space or rear leg room depending on your needs.

You get sliding seats in top-spec versions of the Vauxhall Crossland but none of the main small SUV rivals, and you'll have to look at more expensive SUVs to get rear seats that slide independently.

The rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold down so you can extend the boot to take longer items, but the back seats don't recline.

Boot space

The size of the T-Cross boot depends on how far forwards you slide the rear seats. You can create up to 455 litres of space below the parcel shelf, but anyone sitting in the back will have next to no leg room.

The minimum volume – with the seats all the way back – is 385 litres, which is not bad at all. That was enough to take five carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf, but the Ford Puma, Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Roc offer more luggage room.

A height-adjustable boot floor is standard across the range. This allows you to create a separate space beneath the main boot compartment, or if you slot the floor in its highest setting, eliminate any annoying step in the floor of the extended load bay when you've folded down the rear seats.

“I found the sliding rear seats really useful, and I could sit up straight in the back without my hair brushing the ceiling.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Entry-level versions are well priced
  • +Relatively strong safety score
  • +Good reliability record

Weaknesses

  • -Top-spec versions are too pricey to recommend

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

We reckon the 1.0 TSI 95 Match version of the VW T-Cross offers the best value for money. It's much cheaper than an entry-level Ford Puma, PCP finance deals are attractive and it proved surprisingly efficient in our real-world MPG tests

The pricier Style and R-Line trims make little sense because if you have that much money to spend there are better alternatives – including the VW T-Roc. Likewise the 1.5 TSI petrol engine, which is available only with an automatic gearbox and in the top two trims, is too pricey to recommend.

In short, the T-Cross can be a thrifty buy if you choose carefully – but some versions don't represent such great value for money. Make sure you check for the best prices on our New Car Deals pages.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level Life trim is reasonably well equipped with 16in alloys, adaptive cruise control, air-conditioning and ambient interior lighting. Options such as heated front seats, rear privacy glass and wireless phone-charging don’t cost too much individually.

However, Match trim represents better value for money because it adds a few additional creature comforts over Life, including keyless entry, tinted rear windows and larger 17in alloy wheels, but doesn't cost much more.

Style adds dual-zone climate control, silver (rather than black) roof rails, extra lighting on the nose and a built-in sat-nav, but the hike in price is too great for us to recommend it. The most expensive R-Line trim makes the least sense, and mainly adds styling fripperies.

VW T-Cross infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

The T-Cross finished in a strong eighth position out of 22 small SUVs in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. However, Volkswagen as a brand finished a rather underwhelming 22nd out of 32 manufacturers in the same survey. Seat finished slightly higher, while Skoda did much better. 

What protection do you get if things go wrong? A three-year warranty, limited to 60,000 miles, comes as standard with every T-Cross. That’s typical of many rival manufacturers, but not as generous as Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, or Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile package.

Safety and security

The T-Cross was awarded five stars out of five for safety when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019, with a better adult occupant protection score than the Ford Puma and Nissan Juke. Child occupancy protection wasn't as good, but only by the narrowest of margins.  

A generous list of driver assistance kit contributed towards the T-Cross's strong score. Technology includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), which can monitor the road ahead for both cars and pedestrians, lane-keeping assistance, a driver fatigue monitor (which advises you when to take a break) and post-collision mitigation system.

Moving to the security side of things, an alarm is standard across the range.

“The T-Cross offers a lot of value in its cheaper forms, but I'd advise steering clear of the most powerful engines and range-topping trims.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor


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FAQs

  • No, the T-Cross is only available with traditional petrol engines. We think the best of them is the entry-level 1.0 TSI 95. If you want a small electric SUV check out the Hyundai Kona Electric or Smart #1 – although both are much more expensive than the T-Cross.

  • We think the T-Cross is a great buy in its cheaper forms, but if you're looking higher up the price range, you'll probably be better off with a VW T-Roc.

  • The VW T-Roc is bigger, better to drive and only a bit more expensive than the T-Cross. There's another small SUV in the VW model range – the VW Taigo (which is based on the T-Cross but has a lower roofline).

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £1,304
Target Price from £23,146
Save up to £1,304
or from £222pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £16,989
RRP price range £24,125 - £31,825
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 47.1 - 50.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,383 / £1,895
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,767 / £3,790
Available colours