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Volkswagen T-Cross 2021 review

The T-Cross exterior is every millimetre a Volkswagen.
EXPERT RATING
7.9
We're spoiled for choice when it comes to city-sized SUV options, and Volkswagen's T-Cross is yet another well-credentialed player in this ultra-competitive part of the market.

We're spoiled for choice when it comes to city-sized SUV options, and Volkswagen's T-Cross is yet another well-credentialed player in this ultra-competitive part of the market.

Volkswagen T-Cross 2021: 85TSI Style
Safety rating
Engine Type1.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$30,990

What do we love about the Volkswagen T-Cross?

The T-Cross SUV is Volkswagen's Golf for a new generation (although it's based on the smaller Polo). A sharply-priced, city-size, five-seat SUV that's ultra space-efficient, and powered by a miserly 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine. It's well equipped, with great active and passive safety, as well as a competitive ownership package.

What do we dislike?

Sluggish throttle response and average performance from the tiny triple under the bonnet aren't helped by a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission that's far from VW's best work. At parking speeds it feels indecisive and reluctant to do as it's told.

And that's your only powertrain option - no hybrid or EV version, and if you're after all-wheel drive for light off-roading, the T-Cross if front-wheel drive only. And although the overall standard specification is high, the lack of LED headlights in the base Life model is a letdown.

How much does a VW T-Cross cost?

In terms of price, the VW T-Cross's RRP kicks off at $27,990, before on-road costs, for the entry-level Life variant. And the price list only runs to two models, with the line-up topped off by the Style at $30,990. If you need something slightly larger, the T-Roc sits further up the price range, kicking off at $33,990.

The lack of LED headlights in the base Life model is a letdown. (image: James Cleary) The lack of LED headlights in the base Life model is a letdown. (image: James Cleary)

How does the T-Cross interior look & feel?

As you can see in the accompanying interior images, the T-Cross aligns with other models in the current VW range, boasting an 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The customisable 'Display Cockpit' instrument cluster is part of the optional 'Sound & Vision Package.'

The multi-layered dash design is functional, yet cool. Materials are soft-touch where you'd like them to be and a gloss black finish around the centre console lifts the premium feel. VW cabins are often conservative, but the T-Cross dials up some fun factor with geometric shapes and hard-wearing trim materials.

The multi-layered dash design is functional, yet cool. (image: James Cleary) The multi-layered dash design is functional, yet cool. (image: James Cleary)

What are the key stats & specs of Volkswagen T-Cross engine?

The T-Cross's engine specifications note the same engine size for all trim levels, with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol motor producing 85kW from 5000-5500rpm, and 200Nm from 2000-3500rpm.

The T-Cross’s engine specifications note the same engine size for all trim levels. (image: James Cleary) The T-Cross’s engine specifications note the same engine size for all trim levels. (image: James Cleary)

What colours is the T-Cross available in?

The VW T-Cross is available in two no-cost, non-metallic colours - 'Pure White' and 'Flash Red', and six (extra-cost) metallic colours - 'Makena Turquoise' 'Reflex Silver', 'Energetic Orange', 'Limestone Grey', 'Reef Blue', and 'Deep Black.' Nothing on offer for lovers of brown, gold or beige, although other Volkswagen models are available in those shades.

What are the dimensions of the VW T-Cross?

Size is always a key consideration when you're looking at an SUV likely to live in the urban jungle rather than an actual jungle, and the T-Cross is compact at 4.1m long, less than 1.8m wide, and a touch under 1.6m tall. Kerb weight is just 1240kg, and key interior dimensions relate to the cargo floor, which is 748mm long with the rear seat upright, and 1465mm with the rear seat folded.

Size is always a key consideration when you’re looking at an SUV likely to live in the urban jungle rather than an actual jungle. (image: James Cleary) Size is always a key consideration when you’re looking at an SUV likely to live in the urban jungle rather than an actual jungle. (image: James Cleary)

How much storage space does the T-Cross have?

With the rear seats up, boot space varies because the second row seat is able to slide for greater luggage capacity or extra rear legroom. So, the boot dimensions vary between 385-455 litres (VDA) with the rear seat upright. Fold the rear seat down and that size grows to 1465 litres. Pretty great for such a compact car.

  • With the rear seats up, boot space varies. (image: James Cleary) With the rear seats up, boot space varies. (image: James Cleary)
  • The second row seat is able to slide for greater luggage capacity or extra rear legroom. (image: James Cleary) The second row seat is able to slide for greater luggage capacity or extra rear legroom. (image: James Cleary)
  • The boot dimensions vary between 385-455 litres (VDA) with the rear seat upright. (image: James Cleary) The boot dimensions vary between 385-455 litres (VDA) with the rear seat upright. (image: James Cleary)
  • Fold the rear seat down and that size grows to 1465 litres. (image: James Cleary) Fold the rear seat down and that size grows to 1465 litres. (image: James Cleary)
  • Pretty great for such a compact car. (image: James Cleary) Pretty great for such a compact car. (image: James Cleary)

What features come standard with the Volkswagen T-Cross?

The T-Cross competes in one of the hottest parts of the Aussie new car market. So, no surprise its standard equipment game is strong, including, alloy wheels (Life 16-inch / Style 17-inch), LED headlights (Style-only), LED DRLs, cruise control (Style - adaptive), air-conditioning (Style - dual-zone), inductive wireless device charging, a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, front fog-lights, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, the 8.0-inch media touchscreen, six-speaker audio, plus Apple CarPlay / Android Auto / Bluetooth connectivity.

The top-spec Style also features keyless entry, push-button start, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, LED interior ambient lighting, front sports seats and chrome roof rails.

The Style comes with sports front seats. (image: James Cleary) The Style comes with sports front seats. (image: James Cleary)

Active safety tech runs to AEB (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), driver fatigue detection, parking sensors, lane-assist/lane departure warning, park assist (Style-only), a reversing camera, and low-pressure tyre indicator. The Style adds blind spot monitoring, auto high beam and rear cross-traffic alert; which along with adaptive cruise, is optionally available on the base Life.

On the passive safety side there are driver and front passenger airbags (front and side), as well as full-length side curtain airbags.

It comes with alloy wheels (Life 16-inch / Style 17-inch). (image: James Cleary) It comes with alloy wheels (Life 16-inch / Style 17-inch). (image: James Cleary)

At the time of the T-Cross's Australian launch in mid-2020 VW Australia planned to add a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder 110TSI version of the car to the line-up, likely to have included even more standard spec like a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloys, tinted rear glass, and gloss black door mirrors. But the price equation relative to the next size-up T-Roc didn't work out and the more powerful model was ruled out.

What features can you upgrade?

Volkswagen offers two optional upgrade bundles for the T-Cross. The 'Sound and Vision' package adds the configurable 'Digital Cockpit' instrument display, GPS sat nav, and a 300-watt Beats audio system.

The 'R-Line' package is reserved for the Style only and brings 18-inch alloy wheels, R-Line logos (grille and front guard), tinted rear and rear side glass, 'Race' decorative dashboard panelling, 'Carbon Flag' sports cloth and microfibre upholstery, a leather multi-function sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals. Although a body kit isn't included a unique lower air intake and rear diffuser feature.

Does the T-Cross have Apple Carplay & Android Auto?

Is the VW T-Cross 4x4 and can you use it off-road?

VW's '4Motion' all-wheel drive (AWD) system isn't available on the T-Cross. It's front-wheel drive (FWD) only. The car's relatively high ground clearance means it's capable of light off-road running, but nothing serious.

What is the T-Cross's ground clearance?

Volkswagen quotes a running clearance for the T-Cross of 185mm. A full-size 4WD will typically have at least another 40mm of clearance, which is enough for serious off-roading. But the T-Cross is still more than capable of ‘light’ dirt road off-highway work.

Are there any must have accessories?

A range of factory accessories is available for both T-Cross trim levels including, 18-inch alloy wheels, a loading sill protection plate, door sill protection plate, door sill protection film, a tailgate protective strip, roof bars, a choice of roof boxes (340L or 460L), a bicycle carrier, side steps, a ski and snowboard carrier, a cargo mat, weathershields, mudflaps, and rubber floor mats.

Does the VW T-Cross have a manual or automatic transmission?

Which version of the T-Cross is the best?

With only two models in the range, a call on which version of the T-Cross is the best could be a flip of a coin. Dynamically, dimensionally, and in terms of performance the entry-level Life and top-spec Style variants are a match.

But in terms of value-for-money, it's hard to go past the Style. For an extra $3000 it adds a swag of additional kit, including adaptive cruise (with 'Stop and Go' function), blind spot monitoring (with rear traffic alert), electrically folding and heated exterior mirrors, 'Park Assist' perpendicular and parallel parking assistance, nicer upholstery, steering wheel gearshift paddles, sports front seats, ambient lighting across the dash and front footwells, special interior trim elements, LED headlights (with auto high beam), dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys (+1.0-inch), keyless entry and start, and more. Kind of worth it if you can stretch the budget that bit further.

How does the Volkswagen T-Cross compare to its rivals?

The T-Cross competes in the boiling hot 'Light SUV' segment of the Aussie new car market, currently dominated by the Mazda CX-3.

It also lines up against popular contenders like the Ford Puma, Hyundai Venue, Kia Stonic, Skoda Kamiq, Toyota Yaris Cross, and Nissan Juke.

The CX-3 offers a multitude of models ranging from the low $20K bracket to the high thirties, packs a 2.0-litre petrol engine (only) and is offered in FWD and AWD, the latter a rarity for this class.

The T-Cross is covered by Volkswagen Australia’s five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: James Cleary) The T-Cross is covered by Volkswagen Australia’s five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: James Cleary)

Like the T-Cross it plays a strong hand on active and passive safety, and it's distinctive Mazda design language sets it apart from the VW's relatively reserved look. If your budget starts lower, or is ready to stretch higher vs the T-Cross's narrow price band (high twenties to low thirties) it may be an option worth considering Looking and feeling a bit long in the tooth, though.

There are four 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol competitors, and all are FWD-only. Namely, the Ford Puma (circa $23K-$35K), Kia Stonic (circa $21K-$30K, and also available in 1.4 non-turbo form), Nissan's Juke (circa $28K- $36K), and the Skoda Kamiq (around $28K-35K, and also offered as a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol).

The Kamiq, A VW Group T-Cross twin, got the nod in our recent three-way comparison test between it, the Ford Puma and Toyota Yaris Cross, based mainly on its classy interior, driving dynamics, practicality and value-for-money. So it's a worthy alternative.

There's no surprise the T-Cross' standard equipment game is strong. (image: James Cleary) There's no surprise the T-Cross' standard equipment game is strong. (image: James Cleary)

The Hyundai Venue bested the CX-3 in another recent, three-car back-to-back test, so it's got a lot going for it. The Kia Stonic put its nose in front of the CX-3 in another recent comparison. And Nissan has recently expanded and upgraded its Juke line-up. Told you it was a hot market segment.

But overall, the T-Cross measures up well in terms of standard features, safety tech, fuel-efficiency, practicality, and ownership costs. It's a less confident call on performance and drivetrain refinement, though.

Does the VW T-Cross have any common problems, issues or faults?

The T-Cross has only been on the Australian market since May, 2020, so it's a bit early to pick up local intel on common problems, issues, or faults.

But the car was launched in Europe in late 2018, and owner forums offer up some recurring themes. For example, an intermittent start issue where the car is reluctant to fire up at the first push of the button. Reported issues with the fuel-saving 'Start/Stop' system include a random error message, and engine shut down, even when the function is switched off and/or the car is still moving (at low speed).

Creaking interior plastic panels is another call-out, especially when the cabin temperature is low, with some owners resorting to rubber wedges, or strategic application of silicone to stop the noises.

What is the VW T-Cross fuel consumption?

Volkswagen's official fuel economy figure for the T-Cross, on the ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban cycle, is 5.4L/100km, the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol triple emitting 123 g/km of C02 in the process.

Over a week of city, suburban, and some freeway mileage, the T-Cross Style on test averaged 6.7L/100km (at the pump).

Does the VW T-Cross come in diesel?

The T-Cross is offered with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine only. So, no hybrid, no plug-in hybrid, EV, LPG, or diesel. The next three to five years will see the use of diesel engines in passenger cars and light commercial vehicles diminish substantially.

What is the fuel tank capacity of the T-Cross?

The T-Cross is fitted with a 40-litre fuel tank. Using the official combined cycle fuel economy figure of 5.4L/100km, that translates to a range of 740km. For the majority of city and suburban T-Cross driver’s that will be plenty of time between fills, and handy for the occasional road trip getaway. 

How good is the VW T-Cross's sound system & Infotainment set-up?

The T-Cross's standard audio is a six-speaker set-up (four front, two rear) including AM/FM radio, a CD player, and two SD card inputs. It's compatible with MP3, WMA, and AAC music files. The optional 'Sound and Vision' package includes a 300-watt Beats system.

Multimedia is managed through an 8.0-inch colour (capacitive) touchscreen offering Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Bluetooth device connectivity. It also controls vehicle settings, phone, audio, nav, and more.

What is the VW T-Cross towing capacity?

Attach a tow bar to your T-Cross 85TSI, and VW says it’s capable of hauling 1.1 tonnes with a braked trailer (630kg unbraked). That fits perfectly with the T-Cross’s ‘lifestyle’ brief, as it’s enough capacity to hitch up a small to medium camper trailer, and even the heaviest jet ski weight less than 550kg, a suitable trailer adding around 150kg.

How fast is the T-Cross?

Is there anything unique about the T-Cross's design?

Even with the badges covered it's a fair bet a majority of people would recognise the T-Cross as a VW. From the familiar, elongated shape of the headlights, bold horizontal slats on the upper and lower grilles, to the hard shoulder line along the car's flanks, and signature tail-light treatment, the T-Cross exterior is every millimetre a Volkswagen.

  • The T-Cross SUV is Volkswagen’s Golf for a new generation (although it’s based on the smaller Polo). (image: James Cleary) The T-Cross SUV is Volkswagen’s Golf for a new generation (although it’s based on the smaller Polo). (image: James Cleary)
  • Even with the badges covered it’s a fair bet a majority of people would recognise the T-Cross as a VW. (image: James Cleary) Even with the badges covered it’s a fair bet a majority of people would recognise the T-Cross as a VW. (image: James Cleary)
  • From the familiar, elongated shape of the headlights, the bold horizontal slats on the upper and lower grilles. (image: James Cleary) From the familiar, elongated shape of the headlights, the bold horizontal slats on the upper and lower grilles. (image: James Cleary)
  • To the hard shoulder line along the car’s flanks. (image: James Cleary) To the hard shoulder line along the car’s flanks. (image: James Cleary)
  • And signature tail-light treatment, the T-Cross exterior is every millimetre a Volkswagen. (image: James Cleary) And signature tail-light treatment, the T-Cross exterior is every millimetre a Volkswagen. (image: James Cleary)
  • The lack of LED headlights in the base Life model is a letdown. (image: James Cleary) The lack of LED headlights in the base Life model is a letdown. (image: James Cleary)

Inside, the design pack won't be a surprise to any recent VW owner, although a more geometric approach to the dash graphics adds a hint of more adventurous flair.

A close to unique interior design element is a handy sliding tray under the driver's seat.

How does the VW T-Cross feel to drive?

Tipping the scales at less than 1.3 tonnes, the T-Cross 85TSI is far from a heavyweight, and with a relatively humble 85kW of peak power coming from the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine, that's a good thing.

But a maximum torque number of 200Nm is healthier, and thanks to the turbo it's available from a low 2000rpm, all the way to 3500rpm. So, when it comes to performance figures, 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds is far from supercar acceleration but in the ballpark for a city-sized SUV. That said, mid-range pulling power is more love tap than meaty punch.

But that shouldn't stop you venturing onto the freeway. This little VW is more than capable of keeping its head above the road trip water.

The T-Cross offers solid value, good safety, and handy fuel-efficiency. (image: James Cleary) The T-Cross offers solid value, good safety, and handy fuel-efficiency. (image: James Cleary)

Suspension is strut front/torsion beam rear, and ride comfort for a high-riding SUV with an under 2.6m wheelbase is impressive.

The T-Cross steers nicely, the electro-mechanically-assisted rack and pinion set up delivering handy road feel and satisfying accuracy without a major vibration penalty.

All-around vision is excellent, and the T-Cross is a cinch to park thanks to its compact dimensions, and decent quality reversing camera. The brakes are good, too with a pregressive pedal and firm stopping power.

What is the safety rating of the T-Cross?

The T-Cross scored a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, the assessment coinciding with the car's 2019 Australian launch. Highlight of the compact SUV's active safety features is city and interurban speed AEB (5.0-250km/h), with cyclist and pedestrian detection (4.0-80km/h).

In support are a reversing camera and parking sensors all around, enabling 'Manoeuvre Braking', which is VW-speak for low-speed rear AEB.

There's also lane departure warning, lane keep assist, fatigue detection (and reminder), and tyre pressure monitoring.

If a crash is unavoidable, six airbags (driver and front passenger front and side [chest], and full-length curtain) are on-board to help minimise injuries.

Does the VW T-Cross have ISOFIX points?

The T-Cross features three top-tether points across the rear seat backrest, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer rear positions for safe location of baby capsules/child seats. But despite this car’s overall space-efficiency three child seats across the back seat won’t be practical, unless you can find a super-slim model. 

Is T-Cross reliable?

At the time of writing the T-Cross had been on the Australian new car market for less than a year, so making a call on longer term reliability is tricky.

What we can say is there have been no product recalls affecting Australian T-Cross production, and the current generation Polo, which shares much of its engineering DNA with the T-Cross (and has been available locally since 2018) has a reasonably solid reputation for reliability.

With only two models in the range, a call on which version of the T-Cross is the best could be a flip of a coin. (image: James Cleary) With only two models in the range, a call on which version of the T-Cross is the best could be a flip of a coin. (image: James Cleary)

How much does it cost to service?

Volkswagen offers a service 'Care Plan' covering the first three or five scheduled services including the first visit to the workshop for free on the latter plan.

A five-year Care Plan for the T-Cross is set at $1850, which represents a $787 saving over pay-as-you-go. Opt for three years, and the price is $1100, a $228 saving.

If you choose PAYG, service costs for the T-Cross for the first five years are set at: 12 months/15,000km - $339; 24 months/30,000km - $532; 36 months/45,000km - $457; 48 months/60,000km - $852; 60 months/75,000km - $457.

Where can you download the VW T-Cross owner's manual?

Although non-factory suppliers offer Volkswagen owners manuals for download online, Volkswagen Australia does not. The only genuine owners manual provided is the one sitting in the car's glove box when you take delivery.

How many seats does the VW T-Cross have?

The T-Cross seats five, and while leather upholstery isn't available, the Style-only optional 'R-Line' package includes 'Carbon Flag' sports cloth and microfibre trim.

How many years and km does the warranty last?

The T-Cross is covered by Volkswagen Australia’s five year/unlimited km warranty. And VW’s ‘60-Day Policy’ means that, “If your vehicle suffers a manufacturing defect that renders the vehicle immobile and no longer driveable within 60 days of the date of the purchase, Volkswagen will allow you choose either a refund, replacement or repair of your vehicle without having to prove that a major failure occurred.” Worth noting, and not surprising, that some conditions apply.

Where is the VW T-Cross built?

The T-Cross is manufactured in Brazil, China, India, and Spain, the latter being the source for Australian production. The Spanish plant, in Pamplona (famous for the ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival) covers 1.6 million square metres, and also produces the Polo, which shares much of its DNA with the T-Cross.

2021 Volkswagen T-Cross

Explore the 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross range

Verdict 7.9/10

Is the Volkswagen T-Cross a good car?

The T-Cross offers solid value, good safety, and handy fuel-efficiency. It's also comfortable, practical, space efficient and ownership costs measure up well. But, it's by no means a sporty drive, the little three-cylinder engine focused on sipping fuel rather than compelling performance. Given this car's city and suburban focus that may not be an issue for you. Overall, it's a worthy competitor in the ferociously competitive light SUV segment.

James Cleary
Expert Rating
Deputy Editor
7.9

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Pricing guides

$29,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$27,990
Highest Price
$30,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
85TSI Life 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $27,990 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 2021 85TSI Life Pricing and Specs
85TSI Style 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $30,990 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 2021 85TSI Style Pricing and Specs
Citylife (bamboo Garden Theme) 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $30,390 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 2021 Citylife (bamboo Garden Theme) Pricing and Specs
Citylife (black Theme) 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $30,390 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 2021 Citylife (black Theme) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$27,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.