Volkswagen T-Cross

SE 1.0 TSI

Volkswagen T-Cross, front
Volkswagen T-Cross, dynamic
Volkswagen T-Cross, profile
Volkswagen T-Cross, rear
Volkswagen T-Cross, dashboard
Volkswagen T-Cross, boot
Volkswagen T-Cross, interior

THESE days, it seems, there is always room for one more SUV - and the latest entrant into this ever-expanding market is the Volkswagen T-Cross.

Based on the popular Polo supermini, the new model hit UK showrooms in April and is the German giant's first foray into the compact crossover class.

But although built on the same platform as the Polo supermini, the T-Cross is slightly longer, wider and taller to offer extra practicality and also boasts the typical elevated ride height expected of any self-respecting SUV.

Design-wise the newcomer shuns the raked rear end and swooping roofline of VW's other recent SUV arrival, the T-Roc, and reverts to the more upright, boxy stance of the larger and longer established Tiguan and Touareg.

Lines are clean and sharp but in the brand's characteristically under-stated style - with Volkswagen choosing to rely on a selection of vibrant paint jobs, which can be complemented with matching alloy wheels and interior colour packs, to attract younger customers.

Retina-scorching hues on offer include Flash Red, Dark Petrol Blue, Reef Blue, Energetic Orange and Makena Turquoise - presumably evoking the sea off the Hawaiian beach of the same name.

Fortunately this car came in a restrained shade more befitting a driver of my mature years.

The model line-up consists of the familiar S, SE, SEL and R-Line trims, with prices starting from £16,995, and all versions are front wheel drive - so venturing too far off-road is not really an option despite the rugged looks.

Engine choice is relatively straightforward with two petrol options - both 1.0-litre, three-cylinder units, in 95ps and 115ps forms, with the former available with a five-speed manual gearbox and the latter paired to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

All but S trim versions can also be had with a 95ps 1.6-litre turbo-diesel powerplant with a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

The more powerful of the two petrols that our car featured is likely to be the popular choice and mated to the smooth automatic gearbox offers punchy but refined performance.

Although the 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds is relatively sedate, there's plenty of mid-range power and pace. A prompt kickdown function makes overtaking easy and the car never feels as if it's struggling despite the diminutive engine - even on the motorway.

The T-Cross is far from sporty but is certainly an easy car to drive which offers a settled and composed ride, well-weighted steering and the sort of reassuring, measured handling you want from a compact family SUV, not leaning too much in bends and inspiring confidence when you do want to push on a little.

There is good space inside for a small SUV, with ample room for four adults, five at a push, and Volkswagen have made real efforts to squeeze extra versatility into its compact, city-friendly dimensions.

There are bigger door bins, front and rear, than in many similar sized cars as well as other storage cubbies, like a drawer under the driver's seat, while the rear seats slide forwards or backwards by 14 centimetres - allowing priority to be given to rear legroom or boot space as required.

This flexibility means the boot ranges from 385 to 455 litres with the rear seats in place and, with them folded down, rises to 1,281 litres.

Equipment is decent, with all versions getting a touchscreen multimedia interface, digital radio and air conditioning, but you'll have to move further up the range for navigation, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers.

And while safety and driver assistance is generally well addressed - with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and blind sport warning systems all fitted as standard - it is annoying that you have to step up to SEL trim before you even get parking sensors, let alone a reversing camera.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen T-Cross SE 1.0 TSI

Price: £21,055

Mechanical: 115ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 120mph

0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 45.7

Insurance Group:10

C02 emissions: 111g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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