One would concur that the past few months have been reserved for nothing but the local introduction of the Volkswagen T-Cross. Volkswagen spared to no billboard when it comes to the marketing of the new vehicle. Each page you turn in your favourite glossy magazines and even that off-ramp we all love to hate had the distinct “Book Now” ad for the new T-Cross.
Whatever the name night suggest, you can think of the new Volkswagen T Cross Sport as an entry five-seat alternative to the larger Tiguan. Conceived primarily for markets such as ours, it’s an example of VW’s regional divisions knowing what works for their audience, and the automaker’s platforms being flexible enough to drive that understanding right onto dealership forecourts. As I found from behind the wheel of the T-Cross at launch, that flexibility comes with pros and cons.
For starters, the T-Cross uses the same MQB A0 platform that the Polo, we’ve come to love, uses. The T-Cross measures in 2.55 metres long. It may not sound like the biggest SUV out there, but VW have somehow added some voodoo that give the ride a “surprising amount of room” inside.
Volkswagen did it by starting with a proven platform. Both the Polo and T-Cross share the same basic underpinnings, which means that even though the Polo is much shorter than the T-Cross, it has the same wheelbase. That translates to a frankly incredible amount of room for both passengers and cargo.
Rear seat riders have extra knee room thanks to a sliding bench seat that can also be slid forward when more storage is needed. VW has said that T-Cross is also one of the safest crossovers in its class with Front Assist and Lane Assist. The front end of the crossover looks very familiar with a style similar to the existing Arteon and Touareg.
It’s hard to argue that this new model doesn’t make a lot of sense. Volkswagen sold quite an impressive number of SUVs in the six months ending June 2019.
While the Tiguan is an easy sell with its comfortable seven-seat interior, there’s still an audience for an even roomier, entry level – and dare I say sexier – alternative to both the Tiguan and Tigual Allspace. The new T-Cross is intended to solidify Volkswagen’s presence in the South African SUV market not to mention take on stalwarts like the Ford EcoSport, Peugeot 2008, Hyundai Creta, Mazsda CX-3 and Suzuki Vitara, current segment leaders in the five-seat compact SUV category.
Buyers of the new SUV can pick from two engine options. The first is the 1.0 TSI engine with 85kW power output. In the first quarter of 2020, the 1.5 TSI 110kW will be introduced and in the second quarter the range will be completed with the introduction of the 70kW engine. Either way, you’re getting a seven-speed automatic and the power going to the front wheels at launch.
I’ve never been to the Eastern Cape in the thick of summer start, but there’s no question this part of the country is at it’s windiest – otherwise it wouldn’t be called the windy city, and a ripe spot for testing these kinds of conditions, if you must. Here is where selected media got behind the wheel of new Volkswagen T-Cross and I took it for a spin. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to discern it feels almost exactly like you’re driving a larger three-row SUV.
It feels reassuringly composed and relaxing to drive, with the engine and chassis so well balanced that adding extra speed won’t penalise you in either ride smoothness or comfort.
The interior is also typical Volkswagen with a clean sheet design and well-organized layout. The infotainment screen and center stack were clearly lifted from the new Polo as well. Again, this is not a bad thing at all, but I do wish the T-Cross had more cubby holes and small storage spaces in the dashboard and console, a criticism I’d level at the Polo too. The Cross may have inherited the regular Polo’s good points, but the hiccups have come along with that too.
The entry level Trendline variant comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, split folding rear seats, colour-coded handles and mirrors, electrically adjustable and heated side mirrors, electric windows at the front and rear, height and lumbar adjustable driver and passenger seats, Tyre Pressure Monitor, 6.5-inch ‘Composition Colour’ display, combined front and side airbags, Rest Assist as well as Titanium black seat and instrument panel, black carpets and ceramique headliner. While the Comfortline trim expands on the Trendline and comes standard with 16-inch ‘Belmont’ alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-function steering wheel with multi-function display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), cruise control, Light and Sight Package and a front centre arm rest.
Optional features on the Comfortline trim include; R-Line Exterior with 17-inch ‘Manila’ alloy wheels, Beats sound system, Inductive Wireless Mobile Charging, Composition Media with App-Connect, Discover Media (includes Navigation), Active Info Display, Park Assist with Rear View Camera and Foldable Mirrors , Adaptive Cruise Control (includes Blind Spot Monitor, Foldable Mirrors, Lane Assist and Front Assist), LED headlights with Rear View Camera, Keyless Entry and Removable Towbar.
The third equipment variant, the Highline, has additional standard features to the Comfortline which include Comfort Sports Seats, Inductive Wireless Mobile Charging, Driving Profile Selection, Climatronic Aircon, LED Headlights, Composition Media with App-Connect and 18-inch ‘Cologne’ alloy wheel.
Pricing on the T-Cross starts at R334 600 for the 1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG.