THE smart-looking T-Cross is VW's latest edition to its family of popular SUVs.
It brings more competition to the growing compact SUV sector and with prices starting from just under £17,000 it is sure to be a hit with young motorists.
The T-Cross sits below the T-Roc in the family line-up but looks more like a traditional SUV than its flashier and slightly larger sibling.
Versatile and practical the T-Cross is available in four generous trim levels but only with one engine - a 1.0-litre turbocharged power plant with a choice of two outputs 95 or 115ps.
The engines are mated to five or six-speed manual gearboxes or to a rather nice seven-speed automatic DSG transmission.
The five-door T-Cross is front-wheel-drive only and it is built at the company's Pamplona plant in Spain alongside the Polo on which it is based.
Longer and taller than the Polo supermini the T-Cross offers a good deal more space and there is room for four adults to travel in comfort in part due to its clever sliding rear seats. In addition it offers up to 455 litres of boot space and a whole lot more 1,281 litres when the 60:40 rear seats are collapsed.
VW wants to take sales away from the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke but the stylish T-Cross will also be up against several Korean offerings as well as rivals from Skoda and SEAT in its own group.
The T-Cross is certainly good to look at thanks to its clean lines and a choice of bold colours. It has a strong stance for a small car and shares the now traditional VW SUV family grille. It sits on 16,17 or 18-inch alloy wheels and has privacy glass and LED daytime running lights.
The neat rump has a full width reflector bar to make the car look wider and the tailgate has an integrated rear spoiler but it is not power operated.
The interior is typical Volkswagen, uncluttered and well put together with clear instruments and controls and bags of technology. An eight-inch touchscreen dominates and it is fairly easy to use and is standard in all but the entry-level S model.
The other trim levels are SE, SEL and R-Line and have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. These cars also have four USB charge points.
VW reckons the SE model with the more powerful 115PS engine combined with a manual six-speed gearbox will be the biggest seller so I sampled it on a variety of roads. Priced at £19,995 it proved to be impressive and more than matched my expectations.
The lively three-cylinder unit has a top speed of 120mph and can sprint to 62mph in 10.2 seconds. At the same time it can deliver up to a combined 48,3mpg on the latest WLTP figures with emissions of just 112g/km.
The T-Cross proved to be ideal in towns and villages and agile and balanced on winding country roads with little body roll. The steering is very light but accurate and the T-Cross proved to be very quiet with little road or wind noise.
With good visibility and comfortable seating the cabin was a nice place to be but it is let down by some very hard plastics in places where I would have expected soft-touch materials.
I also had an hour-long drive in the flagship R-Line model priced at £25,055. It came with a few extras taking the total price to £26,735 and again came with the higher output engine and the DSG automatic gearbox.
It also sits on larger alloy wheels so fuel economy drops to an average 45.6 mpg and the ride is slightly harsher over bumps and potholes. The DSG gearbox is a perfect fit for the car and you can play with the wheel-mounted paddles if you get bored letting it do all the work.
The T-Cross showcases all VW's latest safety technology and there is also stacks of ways to personalise the vehicle including some garish interior trim packages that certainly stand out.
It may be rather late to the compact SUV party and does not really offer anything new but the T-Cross is an attractive little package that will find plenty of willing buyers.