Volkswagen T-Cross Review
The VW T-Cross is a small-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside SUV that’s loaded with plenty of equipment as standard. It’s not as comfy as alternatives to ride in, though, and its design is on the conservative side.
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The VW T-Cross is a small SUV that’s surprisingly spacious inside, and is equally generous with the amount of standard kit it comes with. So, as an easy-to-drive and practical family car with a high seating position, the VW T-Cross makes a great choice.
To help it stand out, the T-Cross gets plenty of chunky SUV-like elements and its taller body means you’ll easily spot it in a school car park among a sea of Ford Fiestas and VW Polos. This is especially true if you go for a VW T-Cross in R-Line trim, where it gets a few athletic additions such as sportier bumpers and bigger alloy wheels.
That said, alternatives such as the funky Citroen C3 Aircross or sporty SEAT Arona are more dramatic – the VW T-Cross is a bit more grown-up; like it would prefer a dress-up dinner party to a takeaway and a few beers.
Climb inside, and the VW T-Cross’ cabin has a logical layout that’s sensible to the point of being a little plain – although you can get the centre console and dashboard finished in bright orange if you’re feeling brave. But, even this is outshone by the weird and wonderful Citroen C3 Aircross.
Unfortunately, many of the materials inside the T-Cross’s cabin don’t quite cut the mustard. Besides a padded cushion on the front-door armrests, most of the VW’s cabin feels hard, brittle and scratchy, especially in the back.
There are so many small SUV options these days, but the Volkswagen T-Cross does at least stand out for its decent space and practicality, if not its interior quality.
The infotainment system is better. It has more features than you’ll find in alternatives from Ford, Citroen or SEAT – plus it’s bright, responsive, and easy to use.
The VW T-Cross is also roomier than these other cars. There’s loads of room to stretch out in the front and the neat sliding rear seats mean there’s space for six-footers to get comfy in the back, too. Carrying three adults abreast is a bit of a tight squeeze but at least all their luggage fits in the VW T-Cross’s wide, square boot.
It’s not a particularly quick car, however. If you do fill it with luggage, the 95hp petrol engine will struggle to cope with the load and the 95hp diesel engine is even more sluggish. The more powerful 115hp petrol model is a little more capable, but even this perkier model is still happiest pottering around town.
You’ll be feeling pretty happy behind the wheel too, thanks to the VW T-Cross’s raised ride height which lets you tower over most conventional family hatchbacks and get a great view out. The controls are all nice and light so your arms won’t tire of manoeuvring through tight city streets and you get plenty of advanced driver assistance systems as standard to help keep you safe.
Sure, it’s not quite as comfortable as the Citroen C3 Aircross and it’s a bit noisy at motorway speeds, but the VW T-Cross is still an excellent small SUV with one of the most practical interiors around.
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Common VW T-Cross questions
What’s the difference between the T-Roc and the T-Cross?
The T-Roc and T-Cross are both small SUVs built by Volkswagen, but the T-Roc is slightly larger and comes with less boxy styling. You can think of the T-Roc as a VW Golf-sized SUV, while the T-Cross is more on par with the smaller Polo hatchback.
Despite its small size, the VW T-Cross has a very roomy cabin with space for tall adults and a large boot for their luggage. Carrying three in the back is still a bit of a squeeze, though.
You’ll have absolutely no trouble getting comfortable in the front of the VW T-Cross. The doors open nice and wide and its raised ride height means you don’t have to lean down to slide into the driver’s seat.
Once you’re inside, you’ll find there’s plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to give you a good view out. You even get adjustable lumbar support as standard to help prevent backache on long drives and passenger seat-height adjustment comes as standard across the range.
Space in the back is pretty good, too. The VW T-Cross’s tall body means there’s enough headroom for six-footers to get comfy and there’s loads of space for their feet under the front seats, even if those in the front like their seats nice and low. There isn’t a great deal of space for three adults to sit side-by-side in the back, but this is a common issue in many small SUVs.
Every VW T-Cross comes with sliding rear seats as standard and, with these in their most rearward position, there’s plenty of kneeroom for tall passengers. Slide the rear bench forward and things get rather cramped, but kids will still have loads of room to stretch out.
The Isofix fixtures aren’t covered so you can just slot your child seat in without too much fiddling. But you will have to move the front seat forward a bit if you are fitting a rear-facing child seat.
Also a passenger won’t be able to sit in the middle seat if you have fitted two child seats on the outer seats. The car’s body isn’t wide enough.
Speaking of kids, it’s dead easy to fit a child seat in the back of the VW T-Cross. The wide rear door openings and exposed ISOFIX anchor points make it easy to fit a child seat and the T-Cross’s raised roof means you won’t have to stoop down to strap in a child. You will have to move the front seat forward slightly to fit a bulky rear-facing child seat, though.
The VW T-Cross’s practical cabin has plenty of space for you to squirrel away a few family bits and bobs. The glovebox is reasonably roomy (it’d be better if there weren’t a CD player in there occupying most of the available space), there’s space under the front armrest for a few drinks cans and there’s a pair of cupholders in the centre console.
You get a tray under the dashboard for your phone and every one of the VW T-Cross’s four door bins is large enough to carry a 500ml bottle. You don’t get a folding rear armrest or any cupholders in the back, but SE models and above come with a pair of USB sockets between the front seats for passengers in the back to share.
The VW T-Cross’ 385-litre boot is around the same size as that in the SEAT Arona and Skoda Kamiq. It’s big enough to carry a few suitcases and a baby buggy and every car comes with an adjustable boot floor to let you choose between outright capacity and a flat load lip to help when loading bulky luggage.
Unfortunately, you can’t lower the boot floor in cars fitted with the optional Beats stereo, but at least there’s still absolutely loads of underfloor storage.
If you need to carry even more luggage, the VW T-Cross’s back seats slide forwards by 14cm to boost its boot capacity to 455 litres. That’s more than almost all small SUVs bar the capacious Citroen C3 Aircross. In this configuration you have to be careful not to let smaller bags slip down the gap behind the back seats – you’ll have the devil’s own job trying to retrieve them later.
For transporting some seriously large luggage, the back seats fold down in a two-way (60:40) split to open up a 1,281-litre load bay. This is almost exactly as large as the roomy Citroen and easily big enough to accommodate a bike with both its wheels attached. The boot floor itself is flat and there’s no step behind the back seats with the boot floor in its raised position.
You also get a couple of tether points and a pair of shopping hooks to stop smaller items and groceries rolling about when you’re driving.
The VW T-Cross’s one diesel and two petrol engines are rather sluggish – but it’s economical and gets an impressive number of driver assistance systems as standard.
Currently, the VW T-Cross comes with a choice of two 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel unit. The most affordable model with a 95hp petrol engine feels pretty sluggish and produces a distinct grumbling when you accelerate hard. It’s fine around town, but it feels underpowered on country roads and really struggles at motorway speeds.
Unlike many small SUVs, this engine comes paired exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox, which doesn’t help it feel any less lethargic – accelerating from 0-60mph takes a leisurely 11.5 seconds.
The more powerful 115hp petrol-powered alternative feels slightly more at home on dual carriageways and motorways thanks to its extra power and six-speed gearbox, but overtaking slow-moving traffic still takes a degree of forward-planning. The extra gear helps make it a little quieter when you’re cruising along, but it’s still quite noisy when you accelerate hard. The 0-60mph sprint still takes a relaxed 10.2 seconds.
The 95hp model will return fuel economy of up to 48.7mpg according to VW’s figures, while the 115hp car will manage between 44.8mpg and 47.9mpg, depending on the spec you choose.
The 150hp petrol, which comes with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, is much brisker, but also thirstier.
The 1.6-litre 95hp diesel engine feels even less athletic than the petrol units and only returns marginally better fuel economy. Despite being available with the choice of a five-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox, it’s difficult to recommend. The more powerful petrol is nicer to drive and won’t cost a great deal more to run – even if you do lots of motorway journeys.
The VW T-Cross is even easier to drive around town than a conventional family hatchback thanks to its raised driving position and large windows, which give you a great view out. Sure, the pillars beside the rear windscreen are thicker than those in the Citroen C3 Aircross, but the VW T-Cross’s small size means it’s just as easy to park.
The light controls mean it’s really easy to manoeuvre through tight streets, too, and non-R-Line models with smaller alloy wheels do a decent job ironing out bumps around town. Head out onto a faster country road and even sportier R-Line models are reasonably comfortable to drive – if not quite as cosseting as the Citroen C3 Aircross. The VW T-Cross doesn’t lean a great deal on twisty roads so there’s no reason for your passengers to feel car sick.
You won’t hear a great deal of tyre noise at speed, but the VW T-Cross’s bluff front end and steep windscreen mean there’s a fair bit of wind noise. This is a common issue with compact SUVs, though.
Unlike most small SUVs, however, the VW T-Cross comes with loads of driver assistance systems as standard. Sure, automatic emergency braking is a pretty common feature now, but the VW T-Cross also gets pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist across the range, while SE models and above come with adaptive cruise control as standard.
Besides entry-level 95hp petrol versions, Every VW T-Cross can be had with a seven-speed automatic gearbox to help take the stress out of long journeys. It can be a little jerky when you’re parking, but it changes gear smoothly once you’re up to speed.
You get plenty of equipment as standard in the VW T-Cross’s neat, intuitive cabin, but it doesn’t look or feel particularly posh.