The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Although many buy an SUV for its higher driving position, rivals such as the Kia Stonic don’t feel any higher than a regular small car when you’re sitting behind the wheel. The T-Cross bucks this trend somewhat; while it’s no Range Rover in terms of driver elevation, it does at least feel higher than a Polo. The Suzuki Vitara places you even higher off the ground, though.
Indeed, the driving position as a whole feels much like that of the Polo. There’s a wide range of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel, including standard height and lumbar adjustment on all trims, so it should be easy to get comfortable. Our only caveat is that the sports seats that come with the design packs and R-Line trim have rather long seat bases that can’t be adjusted. Owing to the position of the pedals, you may find that the edge of the seat digs into the back of your knee.
The Active Info Display (standard on range-topping R-Line trim and optional on SE and SEL trims) replaces conventional analogue instruments with a 10.3in digital screen in front of the driver. This presents a lot of useful information very clearly, including a large map if you have sat-nav fitted, and is something we’d recommend considering.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thin windscreen pillars keep the view forwards unobstructed but, like many of its rivals, the T-Cross’ thick rear pillars are a hindrance when looking over your shoulder.
Fear not though. Manoeuvring traumas can be alleviated by adding the relatively inexpensive rear-view camera to our favourite SE trim. Front and rear parking sensors come as standard from SEL trim upwards, but it’s disappointing you get no sensors at all on SE trim unless you dip into the options list.
SEL trim also gets ultra-bright LED headlights as standard. SE trim comes with front fog lights that also switch on individually when you turn the wheel at night, to help you see through corners.
Sat nav and infotainment
Every T-Cross has an 8.0in colour touchscreen as standard, along with a USB connection, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Volkswagen Connect is also standard to keep the brand’s special smartphone app updated with useful information. This includes notifications of the car’s servicing requirements, journey analysis and current location – just in case you’ve wandered off after leaving your T-Cross in some obscure side street.
Our recommended SE trim has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, so you can use your phone’s apps through the touchscreen, including its sat-nav. In-built sat-nav is standard on SEL trim and above, along with a three-year subscription to various online services. All trims get a handy Europe wide eCall emergency SOS assistance, but oddly, voice activation is reserved for the options list across the range – most competitors offer this as standard.
Whichever trim you choose, the basic hardware and software remains the same and works just as well as it does in other Volkswagen models. That is to say that the system is loaded with functionality, but as with other touchscreen-based systems, some of the smaller icons can be hard to hit on the move. The screen is sharper and more responsive than that of the Citroën C3 Aircross, with clearer graphics and more logical menu structures.
The standard sound system comes with six speakers but can be upgraded with the Beats Soundpack. This adds a subwoofer and boost power to 300 watts, but sounds a little too bass-heavy to our ears.
Sadly, the T-Cross doesn’t mirror the cheaper Polo – on which it is based – for quality. Everything feels well screwed together and should stand up to the rigours of family use but, where the Polo displays a mix of plush materials on the top of its doors and dashboard, the T-Cross presents a sea of hard, shiny plastics which look smart enough but feel decidedly less impressive. It has a similar feel inside to the Arona and, considering that Volkswagen touts this as something a little higher end, that seems a shame.
At least you have the option of jazzing it up with a range of trim packages; you can add coloured and textured dash panels, as well as ambient lighting that provides more atmosphere at night. R-Line trim adds some embroidered logos to the interior and highlights such as ‘aluminium-look pedals’ to give it more visual flair.