2019 Volkswagen T-Cross review – price, specs and release date

Volkswagen's smallest SUV shares its underpinnings with the class-leading Seat Arona, and we've been for an early drive in a prototype version...

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John Howell
11 October 2018

Volkswagen T-Cross prototype

Priced from £17,000 (est) | Release date Spring 2019

'I am more’ is the marketers’ strapline for the upcoming Volkswagen T-Cross. If you’re confused, they mean more good stuff, such as space and technology, not that it’s more expensive than other small SUVs

Well, that’s the intention. It’s basically a jacked-up VW Polo underneath, or, if you prefer, a close cousin of the Seat Arona. But at present it’s a prototype, with specifications and pricing still to be confirmed.

The T-Cross will utilise much of the Polo’s technology. Configurable digital instruments and a slick 8.0in infotainment touchscreen will be available, as will blindspot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. Lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking that can avoid pedestrians as well as cars are likely to be standard.  

This isn’t the finished article, but the engineers reckon the T-Cross, as tested, is 95% there. That bodes well, because it’s pretty darned good. 

Volkswagen T-Cross prototype

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross on the road

Most of our brief drive was in the 113bhp three-cylinder turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol model, which is expected to be the big seller. The unit pulls eagerly from 1500rpm and revs out cleanly, so it should be a great option. A 94bhp version of that engine will be available, although we haven’t yet tried it.

But we have tried the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel. This is stronger than the 1.0 TSI in the mid-range but isn’t noticeably quicker outright, and it produces a fair bit of rumble. There’s talk of a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol joining the line-up, too. Most versions will have a manual gearbox as standard, but a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available on the 1.0 TSI 115 and 1.6 TDI that shifts smartly and smoothly.

The brakes are progressive, so it’s easy to stop the T-Cross calmly, while road roar on mid-sized 17in wheels remains hushed at higher speeds. It’s mainly wind noise that you notice, but even this isn’t extreme for the class.

What about handling? Well, the T-Cross is light and nimble in town and surefooted on faster, winding roads. The steering loads up naturally in turns, too; it just needs more heft off-centre on motorways to give it greater straight-line stability. It’s a work in progress, the engineers say.

That’s also true of the ride. While the petrol T-Cross is supple over speed humps, it thuds more sharply on ridges and has a tendency to fidget over small imperfections; the diesel is much firmer. The aim, we’re told, is to tune it towards the comfort bias that the Polo offers.

Volkswagen T-Cross prototype

2019 Volkswagen T-Cross interior

The prototype’s dashboard isn’t production spec – for a light preview, take a look at that of the T-Cross Breeze concept car above – but we know the T-Cross will get hard-plastic dashboard and door trims like those in the T-Roc, rather than the her surfaces in the Polo. That’s disappointing, given that the T-Cross will cost more to buy.

Riding 150mm higher than the Polo, the T-Cross offers that coveted elevated driving position. The supportive driver’s seat is lifted from the T-Roc and there’s plenty of height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel. That promise of a roomy interior is borne out. It’ll fit four tall adults inside easily, with rear leg and head room to match the Arona.

Its boot is more flexible, too; as well as a height-adjustable boot floor, you get sliding rear seats. Even without them slid forward, the boot is bigger than the Golf’s

Next: 2019 Volkswagen T-Cross verdict >

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