Publication date: 19 March 2019
Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross

A predictable surprise

Review - Who chooses Volkswagen, chooses functional, familiar and sensible. Compact models in particular are chosen with the mind. An SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), on the other hand, is all about looks and experience. Such cars are chosen more with the feeling. How does Volkswagen shape the compact SUV?

To combine reason and emotion, Volkswagen starts with the most rational base it has in house: the Polo. Based on the Polo's chassis and technology, Volkswagen has developed the T-Cross. But while the Polo is a conventional and streamlined hatchback, the T-Cross is a tall, sturdy "crossover". That means the T-Cross is more of a tall passenger car than a luxury off-roader.

Volkswagen T-Cross

The lines are as sleek and timeless as those of the other Volkswagens, but the outfit makes the T-Cross special. For instance, the T-Cross can be equipped in trendy colours and styling packages are available to give the car even more character. The test car is "Energetic Orange", completed with orange rims and mirror caps.

Interior and space

On the inside, the party continues with orange accents on the dashboard and seats with orange piping. Note those terms "accents" and "piping"; these are always details and not rigorous choices. In this way, the car is special, but at the same time as sensible as any other Volkswagen. That's what the T-Cross is all about!

Volkswagen T-Cross
Volkswagen T-Cross

The T-Cross is 10 cm higher than the Polo and this is reflected in the slightly higher entry and the slightly higher seat (597 mm above the road surface). However, don't expect a mighty SUV feel. Despite the fact that the bonnet is clearly visible from the steering wheel, the seating position and thus the experience is that of a very ordinary passenger car. The (head) room in the front is excellent. Partly for this reason, it is noticeable that the headrests are just too low to contribute to safety. The interior mirror is low and wide, which gives too little visibility to the rear (Autozine reported this to the engineers and Volkswagen is now considering fitting a larger interior mirror).

Because the T-Cross is built in height, occupants can sit more upright, which translates into decent space in the rear. Even with large adults in the front, large adults in the back still have several inches of legroom left. Note that this depends on the position of the rear seats. It is on rails and only with the rear seats in the rear position is the legroom in the rear good. However, the promised luggage space of 455 litres is only achieved by sliding the rear seats so far forward that the remaining rear legroom is nil. For even more cargo space, the rear seats can be easily folded. By also flattening the passenger seat, objects over 2 metres long can be transported.


The T-Cross' equipment is modern, with Volkswagen once again striking a balance between frivolous and functional items. For instance, there is a lot of focus on active safety (preventing accidents) and the T-Cross can brake independently for danger and/or make minor steering corrections if necessary. While driving, it is noticeable that these systems are present. The steering correction in particular sometimes gives a nudge in the right direction a little earlier than strictly necessary, but this is not disruptive.

Volkswagen T-Cross

In the basic version, the T-Cross features traditional analogue clocks in the instrument cluster with a small black-and-white screen in between for the on-board computer. A digital dashboard is optionally available, replacing the dials with a large screen. The advantage of this is that the driver chooses which information is displayed how and where. Note that the map of the navigation system is shown either on the central display or on the display behind the steering wheel, but not on both at the same time (something that can be done on Volkswagen's sister brands). The optional Beats audio system has a civilised but at the same time powerful sound. Very handy: the T-Cross has 2 USB ports both in the front and rear (so 4 in total).


How the T-Cross handles depends heavily on the chosen trim and engine. With narrower tyres, the car steers noticeably lighter and the whole car even feels lighter. With the 85 kW strong 1.0 TSI and the 1.6 TDI, sporty, economic or comfortable character can be selected at the push of a button. The differences between the different modes are slight. Nevertheless, sometimes it is nice if the car adapts to the situation or the driver's mood. Four-wheel drive or a terrain mode (due to adjustments to the anti-slip control) are not available.

Volkswagen T-Cross

In all cases, it is noticeable that the T-Cross is a tall car. At speeds above 110 km/h, it is clearly audible how the driving wind hits the A-pillar. Despite the stiff suspension, the T-Cross tilts slightly when cornering; something completely alien to the Polo, on which the T-Cross is based. The brakes are very biting, which may take some getting used to.

Engines: petrol and diesel

To reduce costs, Volkswagen uses standard building blocks when developing new models. That includes engines. Volkswagen is working hard on electric cars, but the T-Cross is among the last generation still fitted with traditional combustion engines. Among them is the 1.0 TSI three-cylinder petrol engine that can also be found in many other Volkswagen models.

First we drove the 115 hp / 200 Nm variant. This powerplant barely lets itself be heard and performs with ease. The clutch grips very briskly and also the way the engine eagerly builds up power makes the T-Cross feel faster than it actually is. At the same time, it is quite noticeable that the T-Cross is taller and heavier than a standard hatchback. Only with an extremely calm and smooth driving style can a consumption of 5 litres per 100 km be achieved on a simple course. With a quicker driving style on a more varied route, count on 6.7 litres per 100 km.

Volkswagen T-Cross

The same 1.0 TSI engine is also available with 95 hp / 175 Nm. This one has a different turbocharger, a different engine management ("computer") and one instead of two flywheels. The latter makes for less quiet running and more engine noise. At the same time, the T-Cross 70 kW feels much more nimble than the 85 kW version, and despite the fact that the simpler version has to work harder (with a five-speed instead of a six-speed gearbox), it is easier to drive more economically. Because of its livelier character, lower purchase price and lower mileage, the 95 hp T-Cross is therefore preferable.

At a later stage, the T-Cross will also be available with a diesel engine. Here it is clearly noticeable that Volkswagen is putting all its energy into developing electric cars, as the diesel engine in the T-Cross is one of the old school. The 1.6 TDI lets out an old-fashioned nailing sound, but at the same time it is very decisive. As such, the T-Cross diesel does not feel so much faster than the petrol-engined version, but more powerful.

Volkswagen T-Cross


Volkswagen introduces the T-Cross. The aim was to develop a car that is more fun than your average hatchback, but at the same time as sensible as any other Volkswagen. In that aim, Volkswagen has largely succeeded. When it comes to fuel consumption and handling, Volkswagen cannot work miracles: these are not as good as those of a standard hatchback (read: Polo), but are comparable to those of other compact SUVs.

When it comes to space and looks, the T-Cross succeeds is all respects. The T-Cross is practical, modern and functional. While the big SUVs are tough and muscular, the T-Cross is playful and inviting. This is not so much in the technology, but mainly in the looks and dressing. And that very design makes the T-Cross more fun than just another family car and yet (almost) as sensible.

  • Successful design
  • Modern technology
  • Spacious and practical
  • Headrests too low
  • Awkwardly small interior mirror
  • Driving noise increases above 100 km/h