Nearly new buying guide: Volkswagen T-Cross

12 August 2021 - autocar

Nearly new buying guide: Volkswagen T-Cross

Why buy a new Volkswagen T-Cross when you can save thousands with a used one?

Your eyes, by which you go astray, it warns in the Bible. You see, the thing about small and chunky SUVs is that while some of them look good enough to eat, not all of them are much cop when it comes to the driving experience. The Volkswagen T-Cross, however, is not only a rugged and handsome devil but it’s also sufficiently capable on the road to win the hearts of even the most hardened of car enthusiasts.

For starters, engine options are sensible but more than sufficient. The T-Cross has a 1.0-litre petrol engine in 94bhp and 114bhp flavours, along with a 148bhp 1.5 that’s available with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox only. There’s also a 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel option.

There are five trim levels, starting with S, which has 16in alloy wheels, air-con and an 8.0in infotainment system with a DAB radio. SE is better equipped, with 17in wheels, a variable-height boot floor, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and wipers, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.

Alterations in 2020 brought in the United trim, which is based on the SE. It actually has smaller, 16in alloys but adds front and rear parking sensors. SEL has these, too, plus LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and sat-nav. For sportier looks both inside and out, choose an R-Line. This model also gets 18in wheels and a 10.3in digital instrument cluster.

To drive, the T-Cross is a paragon of ease. The steering is light at low speeds yet weights up as the pace rises. Grip levels are high and it will hang on well in the bends. It’s refined and rides well, too. In fact, it’s nearly as polished as the Polo on which it’s based so, if not outright rip-snorting fun, it is at least a genuinely pleasant thing to punt around.

Even taller people will find plenty of room in the front of a T-Cross. Large door pockets can be found all around that will take a litre bottle, plus from SE spec upwards there are multiple USB charging sockets front and rear. The only major downside is that interior quality appears to have taken a nosedive because there isn’t a soft-touch plastic in sight, unlike in the less expensive Polo. Also, unless you find a T-Cross with a Design Pack fitted, the dashboard has no coloured highlights at all and looks very drab as a result.

Much like one of its major rivals, the Renault Captur, the T-Cross has a rear bench seat that can be slid forwards or backwards to either increase leg room or boot capacity. With the bench slid all the way back, there’s more than enough space for a 6ft adult, and with it slid forwards, there’s a decently capacious boot.

Need to know

Used prices start at around £15,500. You’ll need £17,000- £19,000 for a 2020 model, and £18,000-£24,000 for a 2021 car.

If you’re looking at fuel economy, there isn’t much difference between the two 1.0-litre petrol engines: the 94bhp version has a combined WLTP figure of 47.9mpg and the 114bhp one 46.3mpg. The more powerful 1.5 achieves 44.1mpg. The economy champion is the 1.6 diesel, with 54.3mpg.

The curtain airbags that are used to protect the head in a side impact might not fully deploy in T-Crosses made between May and June 2019. Find out from a VW dealer if your car is affected by this because it will need to have the relevant airbags replaced.

Our pick

  • 1.0 TSI 115

Most will find that the 94bhp 1.0-litre is a sprightly thing, but if you frequently drive on the motorway, the 114bhp version might be a better choice since it has a six-speed manual to keep the engine revs down at higher speeds.

Wild card

  • 1.5 TSI 150 R-Line

The punchy and efficient 1.5-litre engine is enough to push the T-Cross around at very tidy speeds, plus R-Line adds a sporty flavour and larger 18in alloys please the eye.

Ones we found

  • 2018 T-Cross 1.0 TSI 95 SE, 32,000 miles, £15,500
  • 2019 T-Cross 1.0 TSI 115 SEL, 10,000 miles, £17,150
  • 2021 T-Cross 1.5 TSI 150 R-Line, 2000 miles, £22,000

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