FIRST DRIVE | Volkswagen T-Cross arrives to an expectant SA market

26 September 2019 - 08:01 By Phuti Mpyane
Spunky looking T-Cross is available with a punchy and thrifty three-cylinder engine. Picture: SUPPLIED
Spunky looking T-Cross is available with a punchy and thrifty three-cylinder engine. Picture: SUPPLIED

Volkswagen SA’s line up of SUVs has expanded with the launch of the new T-Cross, a response to a burgeoning compact crossover sector.

The overall length of 4,237mm drops it neatly between the Polo and the Tiguan, apt for people who are looking to upsize from the popular and bestselling hatch and to something slightly larger, hip and with an attainable price.

Borrowing styling cues from its larger brethren, it’s a smart-looking thing thanks to an adorable, cube-like shape with smoothed out corners. It’s 1,584mm high and boasts 2,551mm of wheelbase in a neat and well-built cabin with a higher-than-expected perception of quality and features, which includes a high level of digitisation and connectedness.

The Comfortline trim we drove at the media launch features 16-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multifunction steering wheel with multifunction display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), cruise control, Light and Sight Package, front centre armrest and up to four USB ports.

Cabin is roomy, comfortable and tech rich. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cabin is roomy, comfortable and tech rich. Picture: SUPPLIED

Options include inductive wireless charging for smartphones, keyless locking and starting, Beats sound system, Composition Media with App-Connect, Discover Media with navigation, Active Info Display, park assist with rearview camera, adaptive cruise control with blind-spot monitor, foldable mirrors, lane assist, LED headlights with rearview camera, and a removable towbar. It can be draped in the R-Line Exterior pack with 17-inch alloy wheels. All of this can also be ordered as a package if you order the High-line trim.

The inside is a covetable and cheerful place for four to five at a squeeze to sit in. The luggage compartment holds 377-455l as the rear bench can shift aft or fore to prioritise either legroom for passengers or volume for storage. With the rear seat folded flat, it has 1,281l of boot space to work with.

Having already driven the T-Cross at its international launch in Spain earlier in 2019, I must stress how much resolved the drive experience was on more familiar terrain, and the steering wheel on the correct side.

It handles tidily, which is all it needs to do, which is yet another strong hook for many potential buyers outside its other features, such as the 1.0 TSI three-cylinder engine exclusively mated to a seven-speed DSG transmission available at launch.

The T-Cross joins the Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and Touareg in Volkswagen SA's SUV line up. Picture: SUPPLIED
The T-Cross joins the Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and Touareg in Volkswagen SA's SUV line up. Picture: SUPPLIED

It delivers a healthy 85kW and 200Nm and is claimed to sip an average of 4.9l/100km. It’s not earth-shatteringly fast with 10.2 seconds to 100km/h rating but on the road it felt adequately motorised.

It’s a nimble drive with a light and precise enough steering action and no unruly road manners marshalled by stability and traction control, brake assist and ABS equipped stoppers. Up to six airbags offer a crash cushion as it should be, bearing in mind customer expectations of the VW brand.

But anyone expecting a cheeky little off-roader will be disappointed. The front-wheel drive T-Cross is more road-biased. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t great to take on a gravel path. It’s got high enough ground clearance for the typical dirt road jaunt.

The range will expand in 2020 with the introduction of a 70kW entry-level and a 110kW range-topper powered by the same triple-cylinder engine and paired exclusively via DSG transmissions, the latter engine boasting a larger 1.5l capacity. You can pre-order these derivatives now.

Pricing

VW T-Cross 1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG — R334,600

VW T-Cross 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG — R365,000

VW T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG — R403,500

Prices include a three-year/120,000km warranty and three-year/45,000km service plan.

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