Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Volkswagen T-Cross's entry-level petrol engine (badged 1.0 TSI 95) is all you'll probably need. It isn't as nippy as a Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost MHEV buts still hits 0-62mph in a claimed 10.8sec and serves up enough performance from low revs to avoid you having to thrash the engine. You don't even miss the absence of a sixth gear – this engine and the 1.6 TDI diesel are the only versions of the T-Cross with a five-speed manual gearbox.
As well as an extra gear, the more powerful 1.0 TSI 115 offers slightly faster acceleration (0-62mph in 9.5sec), but the difference isn't huge so we'd be tempted to save the money. Nevertheless, it's still easier to recommend than the range-topping 1.5 TSI 150 petrol. That's available exclusively with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and in the higher trims, but, while it's is by far the nippiest T-Cross, if you've got that much money to spend there are better cars available, including Volkswagen's own T-Roc.
The 1.6 TDI diesel is even less recommendable. Surprisingly for a diesel, it struggles at low revs, so you find yourself flooring the accelerator pedal to make reasonable progress. You also need to change up and down through the gears to keep the revs in a sweet spot that exists at around 2000-2500rpm.
Suspension and ride comfort
The T-Cross isn't quite as comfy as the more expensive T-Roc or the Skoda Kamiq, but it rides pretty well compared with most other small SUVs. It’s much less fidgety than the firmer Kia Stonic, for example, and far more controlled and less bouncy than the Citroën C3 Aircross.
Often we suggest sticking with the smallest wheels possible for the smoothest ride. With the T-Cross, though, wheel size makes little difference to comfort; our recommended SE trim comes with 17in wheels, but even the R-Line model with 18in wheels isn't a boneshaker.
Those looking for something easy to drive in town will find the T-Cross's light steering a boon, which is especially helpful when you’re trying to park or weave your way through traffic. But this small SUV is almost equally at home on faster roads.
Okay, it’s not quite as agile or as fun as the stiffer Ford Puma, but its steering weights up nicely when you pick up the pace, providing a good sense of connection to the front wheels, and there’s more than enough grip available, balanced equally between the front and rear wheels.
Noise and vibration
The 1.0-litre petrol engines make a distinctive chirp when revved, but they're far smoother and quieter than the 1.6 TDI diesel. Indeed, petrol versions of the T-Cross are altogether pretty hushed by small SUV standards, although the slightly pricier T-Roc lets in even less wind and road noise when you're on the motorway.
If you go for a version with a manual gearbox you'll find the gearshift a little notchy, but the clutch has an easily identifiable biting point that makes it easy to pull away smoothly. Likewise, the feelsome brake pedal makes it easy to draw to a gentle halt.
The DSG automatic ‘box, meanwhile, pings though its gears seamlessly when you're out on the open road, but can be a bit jerky a very low speeds, such as when you're parking. It's still far smoother than the Nissan Juke's equivalent automatic gearbox, though.
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