This sleek, feature-rich little SUV might help potential buyers lower their monthly gas bill, but there’s a catch.
Australians buy more SUVs than any other vehicle. We put Volkswagen’s little T-Cross through its paces to see if the extra room and ride height are worth the extra cost.
The T-Cross is the smallest SUV in the Volkswagen range. Based on the small Polo car, it starts at around $35,000 drive-in for the 85TFSI Life model, which features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless phone charging, 8-inch center touchscreen , cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
The next model is the Style at around $38,000, which ups the ante with dual-zone climate control, push-button start, larger wheels, ambient lighting and more safety features. Our tester, based on the Style, also had an R-Line package, which is essentially a cosmetic upgrade that includes 18-inch wheels, better cloth seats, faux carbon fiber highlights in the cabin, tinted windows and more. This adds $2600 to the price. A “sound and vision” package seems better value at $2,200 for a premium audio system, digital driver display, satellite navigation system and wireless smartphone mirroring.
The warranty is five years and maintenance is expensive at $2886 over five years. If you pay in advance, it drops to $2250.
The T-Cross is surprisingly spacious for a compact SUV. The high roofline means there’s decent headroom for taller passengers in the front and rear. The rear seats also offer good legroom, although the backrest is more suitable for two passengers, as the middle seat is a bit uncomfortable. There are no rear air vents and the rear armrests are hard plastic, but the trunk is larger than average.
The R-Line has low-profile 18-inch wheels, which don’t smooth out bumps and ripples as well as the smaller wheels of the cheaper versions, but overall the ride is pretty good for this size of vehicle.
The tires can get a bit noisy on rougher road surfaces.
The cheapest Life model has automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist, but lacks the driver-assist tech you’ll find on some rivals at this price, including alert blind spot and rear cross traffic. They’re available as part of a $1,200 driver assistance package that also includes adaptive cruise control, semi-automatic parking, and a fancier version of automatic emergency braking. These features are standard on the Style.
The T-Cross earned five stars in crash tests when it was launched and scored well on adult occupant protection with a score of 97%.
ON THE ROAD
The T-Cross’ 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine punches above its weight, thanks to a good helping of torque available early in the rev range. It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that shifts decisively at speed, but can be a little jerky and slow to respond, especially when the car‘s stop-start function is engaged.
It is confident in the corners, however, with crisp, communicative steering and good body control.
Energy efficiency is impressive. Volkswagen claims an average of 5.4L/100km and we hit 5.8L/100km on a mix of highway and city driving. Unlike some competitors, it’s only available in front-wheel drive, which limits its ability on unsealed surfaces.
The T-Cross sits at the expensive end of the compact SUV market, but offers decent space and an above-average driving experience.
Toyota Yaris Cross Urban Hybrid, from around $38,800 drive-away.
Not as rewarding to drive but burns less fuel, has more equipment and a full standard safety package.
Mazda CX-3 Akari, starting around $41,200 drive-away.
Smaller inside, with a small boot but with standard leather, a bigger 2.0-litre engine and more driver-assist tech.
Kia Stonic GT-Line, starting around $32,750 drive-away.
Out of power, missing safety gear and not as solid to ride, but considerably cheaper, with plenty of goodies.
VOLKSWAGEN T-CROSS STYLE R-LINE VITALS
THE PRICE About $40,800 by car
WARRANTY/SERVICE Five years, unlimited km, $2250 over five years
ENGINE 1.0 liter turbo petrol, 85 kW and 200 Nm
SECURITY Six airbags, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert
THE THIRST 5.8L/100km
LUGGAGE 455 liters