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VW T-Cross 2020 review

EXPERT RATING
7.6
It's been a long time coming, but Volkswagen will soon have an entrant into the city-sized SUV segment, with the T-Cross scheduled to touch down in Australia next year.

It's been a long time coming, but Volkswagen will soon have an entrant into the city-sized SUV segment, with the T-Cross scheduled to touch down in Australia in May next year. 

What's more, when it rains it clearly pours over at VW, because joining it will be the T-Roc; a Golf-sized crossover that will sit beneath the Tiguan in the brand's soon-to-boom SUV line-up. 

The T-Cross scheduled to touch down in Australia in May next year. 

The T-Cross scheduled to touch down in Australia in May next year.

We've driven the Roc in NZ and Sydney, but this was our very first chance to get behind the wheel of the Polo-sized (roughly) T-Cross. 

So the big question now, of course, is was it worth the wait?

Volkswagen T-Cross 2020: T-Cross
Safety rating
Engine Type
Fuel Type
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating
Price fromPOA

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The T-Cross might not be the most overtly styled car in the segment, but for ours, it benefits from the simplicity, with clean, unfussy design unlikely to age.

Its best angle is front-on where the big, bold and wide-looking grille and headlight combination look lifted from a bigger and more expensive car. 

The unique, square-edged tail-lights are joined by a reflective strip - though it doesn’t light up, like it does in newer Porsche models.

The T-Cross benefits from the simplicity, with clean, unfussy design unlikely to age.

The T-Cross benefits from the simplicity, with clean, unfussy design unlikely to age.

The cabin of the T-Cross pulls off that impossible trick - here is a small car that doesn’t look or feel it in the cabin. From the sizeable steering wheel to the black-edged touchscreen, it feels a full-sized car from the cabin.

It’s a clean, uncluttered and fuss-free dash layout, with the touchscreen controlling much of the functionality, and with only the climate functions and some parking features relegated to two strips of buttons toward the bottom the centre console.

The T-Cross has a clean, uncluttered and fuss-free dash layout. The T-Cross has a clean, uncluttered and fuss-free dash layout.

The R Design seats (which are unlikely to be standard) feel plush and premium, too, but you do need to search far and wide for a material that’s not rock-hard to touch, with plastics lining the doors and the central tunnel.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Polo-based T-Cross will launch into Australia’s rapidly expanding small SUV segment, and it will do so packing a pretty unique selling point - space. At 4110mm long, it's 54mm longer than the Polo, and the seating position is 100mm higher.

But to describe the T-Cross as a jacked-up Polo is to do it a disservice. It both looks and feels different, and it feels bigger, too, and we were pretty impressed by the levels of interior space on offer, and the clever features used to maximise it. 

The backseat is especially smart, mounted on rails so you can maximise space for backseat riders, or for luggage in the boot

The backseat is especially smart, mounted on rails so you can maximise space. The backseat is especially smart, mounted on rails so you can maximise space.

There's 385 litres of luggage space minimum, or up to 455 litres maximum (1281 with the seats folded flat) and that is plenty. More than the CX-3, at 264 litres. More than the Kona, which is 361 litres, and more than the bigger Golf, which offers 380 litres. 

There's 385 litres of luggage space minimum, or up to 455 litres maximum. There's 385 litres of luggage space minimum, or up to 455 litres maximum.

Elsewhere, though, there’s plenty of head and leg room in the back, as well as USB charge points and cupholders, but no air vents. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

VW is yet to spill all the beans on exactly what the T-Cross will cost when it lands in Australia, but we can make some (very) educated guesses. 

And so you can expect the Cross to touch down in two trim levels (both sharing the same gearbox and engine), and with pricing to start around the mid-$20K mark. 

For that, you can expect 16-inch alloys wheels, fabric seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and remote keyless entry. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Just the one engine on offer here, at least initially, and that's a clever 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine that will produce 85kW and 200Nm. It pairs with a seven-speed DSG automatic, which shuffles power to the front wheels. That's enough to produce a zero to 100 km/h sprint of 9.9 seconds, and a climbed top speed of 193 km/h.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

VW says its T-Cross will sip 6.1L/100km on the combined cycle, and has its CO2 emissions pegged at a claimed 139g/km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

There was a time, and not so long ago, when the mere thought of a three-cylinder engine would have us weeping into our cappuccinos. 

But the times change plenty fast in the world of cars, and I'm here to tell you that the 85kW and 200Nm on offer here is plenty to get the T-Cross up and moving (and we do mean moving, we sailed close to 200km/h on Germany's famed autobahn with ease). 

Now, a performance car this ain't, and the acceleration is far from spritely at higher speeds, but in the city (which where the Cross will spend the vast bulk of its time), it climbs to the legal limit in a smooth and largely unobtrusive fashion.

The 85kW and 200Nm on offer here is plenty to get the T-Cross up and moving. The 85kW and 200Nm on offer here is plenty to get the T-Cross up and moving.

The DSG transmission performed without fuss, too, and the calm and quiet of the interior speaks to a premium-ness sometimes missing from this segment, too. 

But the real boon here is space. Not all small SUVs are created equal, and we did a cross-country commute with a six-foot-plus giant in the backseat, and there was not even a whimper of discomfort. So unless your kids are about to be recruited to the Chicago Bulls, they'll find there's plenty of room back there. 

The not-so-goods? Well, we found the ride mostly composed and connected to the road below, but jarring when faced with a sudden tarmac imperfection. We're told our test cars were fitted with optional sports suspension, so we'll hold our final view on that until we get the cars to Australia for a thorough test. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 15,000,000 km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Again, pricing and spec is still being determined, but we'd expect the T-Cross to arrive with usual suite of airbags and traction systems, which will be joined by AEB with pedestrian detection, a reversing camera and a driver fatigue monitoring system as standard. VW is shooting for the maximum five-star ANCAP rating (it scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP testing).

 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Expect VW's five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty here, and servicing to arrive every 12 months or 15,000kms. The brand is yet to reveal service pricing for its T-Cross, but a Polo with the same drivetrain will set you back $349, $481, $442, $790 and $349 for the the first five services. 

Verdict

You’ve heard the term better late than never, right? Well it's only first impressions, but on this tase test, I think the T-Cross switches it up a little bit. I think it’s better because it’s late. It's a solid-feeling small SUV offering across the board, but the big selling point here is space. 

 

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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