Fashionable new small SUV entrant big on style
Fashionistas will fondly remember when Stella McCartney designs made an appearance at Target.
Stella devotees camped out to buy high-end gear at bargain prices during the limited releases in 2007 and 2010. The demand hasn’t been as dramatic for Volkswagen’s new compact offering, but the
T-Cross is certainly a head-turner despite being the brand’s least expensive SUV.
The range starts from about $30,000 on the road and is the first German mainstream entrant in a genre dominated by the Mazda CX-3. While using the same architecture as the Polo hatch, the T-Cross feels like a more robust offering and has the internal dimensions to take on the likes of Hyundai’s popular Kona, as well as the evergreen Mitsubishi ASX and Toyota’s sharp-edged C-HR.
Those wanting European glamour will want the Style derivative that delivers on feature expectations for $32,990 drive-away.
From the clunk of the doors to the general ambience, there is no questioning the Volkwagenisms within. Hard plastics across the doors and dash are well hidden and the upgraded surfaces most touched deliver the quality feel expected.
Being the top-shelf offering, standard equipment includes 17-inch Bangalore alloys, LED headlights, dual zone aircon, keyless access and power folding door mirrors, steering wheel paddle shifters and an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feeding a six-speaker sound system.
For an extra $1900 it can be optioned with a digital instrument display which debuted on Audis a few years back, along with satnav and a 300-watt Beats sound system. The complimentary set-up isn’t bad, you can use Google Maps through your phone for satnav, and unless you’re wanting extra lapping kudos the basic stereo is also pretty good.
Those really wanting to stand out will love the R-Line package for $2500. Bigger 18-inch alloys, bodykit, tinted rear and side windows, aluminium pedals, leather steering wheel and the carbon flag sports cloth trim set it apart from the rest. Our test car had the pack and attracted ample attention in car parks.
Externally, only two gloss finishes come at no cost — white and dark blue — while metallic orange, grey, silver, blue and pearl-effect black are an extra $600. Metallic turquoise is $800.
Warranty coverage meets the industry standard of five years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing is the same as a Polo, $1800 for five years if you buy upfront — with intervals annual or every 15,000km. A three-year plan is $990.
Crash testing saw the T-Cross achieve near-perfect scores for adult protection and 85 per cent for children.
Style variants come with some added extras such as LED lights, automatic high beam function to avoid blinding oncoming traffic, adaptive cruise control which can maintain a preset distance from vehicles in front, parking sensors all-round, along with blind spot monitor and rear traffic alert.
Autonomous emergency braking can help avoid frontal collisions and also scans for pedestrians and cyclists, not just vehicles. Some new models have AEB operational also in reverse, but it’s not available on the T-Cross.
Surprisingly spacious, it’s easy to see why some will confuse the T-Cross with the incoming
T-Roc — the slightly larger version based on the Golf platform.
The improved ride height improves entry and exit (one of the key reasons older buyers love SUVs), while the taller cabin offers additional headroom front and back. Rear seat accommodation can handle adults.
Supportive seats upfront make long journeys a cinch, with ample commonsense storage — like the console dual cup holders and door bottle bins.
There are twin USB points in the rear and the back seat slides fore and aft to prioritise leg room or cargo space as required. The boot varies between 385 and 455 litres, making it among the biggest in this class and enables it to be competitive with slightly larger SUVs.
The rear pew drops 60-40 via seat-top levers to provide 1281 litres of loadspace. Boot-mounted options are usually better but it’s easy to lean across to collapse the seat back.
Using the same turbocharged three-cylinder as the Polo, the T-Cross has a practical focus rather than performance.
On paper, statistics show from standstill to 100km/h it takes more than 10 seconds. In reality it feels quicker.
Well-weighted steering, strong brakes and the zesty engine combine to deliver an enjoyable driving experience. Make use of the steering wheel paddles and it can improve the power delivery when tackling hills or slinging out of a bend through rural confines.
With the whole family on board, the T-Cross engine complained with some groaning up steep inclines but successfully managed the job as a family hauler. The primary complaint was the delay from the dual clutch automatic gearbox when shifting from reverse to drive, and vice-versa, during parking manoeuvres.
Average fuel consumption was 6.7 litres per 100km using premium unleaded. It dropped to as low as 5.3 on highway trips.
Going big and bold isn’t on my agenda. SUVs are the new black and the T-Cross looks more expensive that the price indicates.
Europeans do it best, and I can have German precision without selling my soul.
MAZDA CX-3 S TOURING $30,485 D/A
Stylish and sleek, the compact SUV has impressive performance courtesy of a 2.0-litre 4-cyl good for 110kW/195Nm. The biggest disappointment is boot size, only 264 litres.
KIA SELTOS SPORT PLUS CVT $33,690 D/A
Slightly larger, and another personality-packed offering, powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cyl generating 110kW/180Nm. Has a class-leading seven-year warranty.
The T-Cross snared more attention than any other car we’ve driven this year. Confident and capable on the road, it’s an impressive compact SUV which has the ability to suit families and empty nesters.
AT A GLANCE
VW T-CROSS STYLE
PRICE $32,990 drive-away (reasonable for a Euro)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 yrs/unlim’ km w’ty, service$1800 5yrs (not bad)
ENGINE 1.0-litre, 3-cyl turbo, 7sp auto, 85kW/200Nm (willing)
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert (fine)
THIRST 5.4L/100km (good, but 6.7 on test)
SPARE Space-saver (better than repair kit)
BOOT 455 litres (one of the best)