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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Affordable small SUV with a touch of pizzaz

Volkswagen T-Cross drive by Steve Rogers

Volkswagen was slow out of the blocks when the SUV race started but has made up for it. 

Now it has a garage full of all shapes and sizes. Shapes might be stretching it as all are similar, apart from size, and on the subject of size lets have a look at the smallest.

T-Cross is based on the Polo but as an SUV is a bit bigger and more practical with a boot a handbag larger than a Golf which is impressive. And the ride height has been jacked up more than most of its rivals making it easy to slide in and out, so perfect for us older folk or anyone with mobility problems.

Then we have the sliding back seats, rare in a car this size, which produces an extra 70 litres of luggage space which is not to be sneezed at, but only leaves enough legroom for young children or adults with very short legs.

The small SUV sector is bursting at the seams so the stakes are high given the quality of the opposition, think of Ford Puma, Renault Captur, Seat Arona, Toyota Yaris Cross, I could go on and on but this T-Cross is giving rather a good account of itself.

Germanic styling is often criticised for being too conservative and while T-Cross hasnt the flare of a Captur or Yaris Cross it is not without merit and there are even splashes of pizzaz. Pick the right model and the inside is positively blazing with striking coloured inserts along the dashboard, steering wheel and gearstick housing.

Volkswagen trades on its reputation for quality rather than value for money but has thrown in a reasonably priced entry S model although the spec sheet looks a bit too spartan so I would go for this SE which has more kit and there are options packages.

My big gripe with SE is that it has no parking sensors let alone a rear camera and if ever a car needed a bit of help for parking this is it because rear vision is compromised by a thick rear pillar. Fitting both as extras costs a hefty £785. Ouch!

A navigation, streaming and internet package is another £920 and while efficient and easy to use you can get away without it because the car has smartphone connectivity so mobile phone apps can be linked to the touchscreen which is perfect for Google maps and, my favourite, Waze mapping.

Driving T-Cross is a joy. Finding the best driving position is easy with plenty of steering wheel movement and the seatback can be adjusted with a wheel rather than a lever so you can be spot on.

The steering is light but nicely weighted giving the driver a good feel for whats going on with the front drive wheels. The suspension does a good job of cushioning poor road surfaces and the three-cylinder petrol engine is perky enough with ample overtaking acceleration. It should also be good for mid fifties to the gallon.

T-Cross might be small but is still a good, practical family car with room in the back for leggy teens and quick slot in connections for child seats. It is not too badly off for cubby space either while the door bins are huge.

Build quality is solid, typically Volkswagen, yet the hard plastic along the dashboard and door cappings is not what we normally get from a VW. Smacks of saving the pennies.

My top small SUV is still a Toyota Yaris Cross but T-Cross has been a pleasant surprise and makes my top five coming in at number four behind the Ford Puma which is great to drive and the Skoda Kamiq.

Fast facts

T-Cross SE

£22,905 (£25,825 tested)

1-litre petrol; 108bhp

0-62mph 10.8secs; 117mph

49.6mpg combined

130g/km. 1st tax £190

Insurance group 9

Boot: 385-1281 litres

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