Wheels: VW T-Cross tested
Words by Hanjo Stier
Volkswagen South Africa has just launched its first small-compact SUV contender, just as the German manufacturer announced its new ideals for future mobility. The question, however, begs if Volkswagen did not maybe join the compact SUV rivalry too late? Well, Volkswagen took us on a road trip along the Garden Route to prove sceptics wrong.
Southern-Africa proves to have an ever-growing appetite for SUV’s; even if it is just for a higher ride height in town. With rapid urbanisation proving it more difficult to find spacious parking in the city, smaller (compact) SUV’s seem to be the ideal solution.
Manufactured in Spain, the new T-Cross satisfies this exact need and pre-release orders already indicate a need for such a vehicle.
Standing 123mm higher (1.58 metres in total) and 182mm longer (4.2 metres in length) than the normal VW Polo, the new T-Cross can be moved in the urban jungle with ease. And no, the T-Cross is not a replacement of the Polo Cross, but rather comes in as the smallest SUV sibling to the Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and the Touareg. Thus, the driver and front passenger sits 597 millimetres from the ground, while the rear passengers sit 652 millimetres high (10 more than in the Polo).
As always, Volkswagen has a way of maximising the interior space of all their cars and the T-Cross is certainly no different. Capable of holding 377-455 litres of luggage, the T-Cross has a class-leading storage space of 1281 litres available, should the rear seats be folded down. Even larger SUV’s struggle to find this volume of space within their vehicles. Rear legroom is also more than adequate, while even the rear seats now feature seatbelt warnings; a very good improvement in terms of safety.
Inside, the design can be tailor-made for all ages, with a very dynamic look for the dash pad, electric windows and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Each of the T-Cross models will also come standard with 4 USB points (2 at the front and 2 for the rear passengers).
Off course, the T-Cross also comes with plenty optional extras such as an inductive wireless charging platform, keyless locking and a 300-watt, 8-channel Beats amplifier (similar to the system found in the latest Polo Beats). The last-mentioned sound system also features a subwoofer, placed inside the space-saver spare wheel.
En route to Port Elizabeth via the long stretched roads of the Garden Route, we had ample chance to view the exterior features of the new T-Cross. Looking at the front, the car looks like a shrunken Touareg, featuring fog lights and daytime running lights. LED head- and tail lights are also standard.
The rear of the T-Cross looks very similar to another SUV in the family tree, with a striking reflective band which spans the boot door. This distinctive design became even more impressive as we made our way down the Simola hill after sunset.
Choosing your own T-Cross design becomes, even more, better with the choice of either 17” or 18” wheels, should the standard 16” wheels not be your choice. The T-Cross also comes in 9 colours, featuring the distinctive Makena Turquoise, Reef Blue, Pure White, Energetic Orange, Flash Red, Reflex Silver, Limestone Grey, Urano Grey and finally, Deep Black Pearl.
In terms of safety, the T-Cross has five Euro NCAP Stars, proving to have incredible safety features, especially when the price is being taken into account. Optional equipment on the T-Cross include features such as lane-keeping monitoring, hill start assist, automatic adaptive cruise control, park assist and blind-spot monitoring.
Similar to other VW products, the T-Cross will come in several equipment lines.
Not present at the launch, but due for market installation early in 2020, the 70kW Trendline is set to feature 16” steel wheels, LED daytime running lights, electrically adjustable and heated side mirrors, electric windows, tyre pressure monitors, a 6.5” touchscreen, as well as front and side airbags. This model will also feature a 1-litre turbocharged 70kW engine.
The Comfortline will feature 16” Belmont Alloy Wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-functional steering wheel, park distance control and cruise control.
The Highline will feature Comfort Sport seats, inductive wireless mobile charging, driving profile selection, dual climate control, LED headlights, AppleCarPlay and Android Auto as well as 18.5” Cologne alloy wheels.
Both the Comfortline and Highline will feature a very responsive 85kW / 200 Nm (between 2000 – 3500 rpm) turbocharger 1.0-litre engine, while a more powerful 1.5 TSI engine will be placed in the T-Cross R-Line, due for arrival in 2020. This specific model should produce 110kW.
What do we think?
Driving the 1.0-litre variants on the open roads proved to be easy, comfortable, spacious enough for all our luggage, as well as very economical. Thanks to a very responsive 7-speed DSG gearbox in all the derivatives the T-Cross gave a figure of 6.2 litres per 100km.
Combine this with a soft-spoken engine with immediate power delivery, even at 120km/h (or slightly above), the T-Cross proved to be the ideal road trip vehicle.
Driving it in anger (although not in the identity of this vehicle) proved to not place it in discomfort. It was able to handle even the harshest of Hillclimb turns with five fully grown adults.
Driving on gravel also surprised us as the T-Cross is not AWD. The heightened ride height definitely helps with overall control and stability on the looser surfaces.
We think the T-Cross might exceed all expectations in Southern Africa, even that of Volkswagen itself. A well-designed car which the South-African market has longed for, for so long, has finally arrived.
- TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG R334 600
- 1.0 TSI 85 kW Highline DSG R365 000
- 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG R403 500
Each of the T-Cross models will come standard with a 3-year/120 000km warranty, a 3-year / 45 000 service plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
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