If we were a little underwhelmed when we first tried out the Volkswagen T-Cross – the words ‘another small SUV; nothing special’ come to mind from the review of the car – we were given another opportunity by VW to redeem our indifference when they subsequently sent us the R-Line version of the car.
Like most T-Cross models, this one also came with a take-the-eye-out-of-your-head colour scheme (Makena Turquoise, in this case), but as the range-topper, the R-Line version we tried this time around also came with a bunch of added kit which made it a whole lot more appealing, if not also considerably more extensive than the ‘Style’ version we previously tested.
The T-Cross is VW’s baby SUV and is very closely related to the Polo in many respects. It is built on the same platform as the Polo and largely shares the same interior. It is a couple of inches longer than a Polo and six inches taller too, but it still has generous amounts of interior space and is quite the practical thing all-round.
Potential buyers should be aware, however, that if it's adventure they’re seeking, they will only find it in the colour schemes on offer and in the colour-coded dashboard and centre console trims and the upholstery inlays. They will not be seeking much off-road adventure, however, as the T-Cross only comes as a front-wheel drive option.
On top of that, the T-Cross is only to have a limited choice of engines that will not stretch to the bigger ones available in the T-Roc. The choices on offer basically consist of two one-litre petrols (one with 95 bhp and the other with 115 bhp) and one 95 bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel.
That said, there appears to be something of mixed marketing messages coming out of Wolfsburg as this car was originally intended to be the more practical family-oriented offering of the company’s smaller SUVs.
If that was the original intention – and that the bigger T-Roc was supposed to be aimed at a more youthful fashion-conscious audience – then things appear to have gone a little askew.
What with its funky colour options and general around-town chic, it appears to me that the T-Cross should be more appealing for the younger buyer than the T-Roc. But then, what would I know about such matters? If I was young and hip, however, I’d be leaning more towards a model such as this week’s tester rather than its bigger brother.
In R-Line specification, the car is very well equipped all-round – and with a price tag approaching the 40K mark, it should be. But with stuff like the 17” ‘Sebring’ alloys, the 8” screen for infotainment/connectivity/climate control, the leather multi-function steering wheel and a raft of safety technologies as standard the guide price here is just over €35,000.
But, in its wisdom, VW decided to add to the tester another layer of goodies, including 18” ‘Nevada’ alloys, a Beats sound system, an R-Line interior package, automatic headlamp dipping and a rake of other stuff which adds another four big ones to the bottom line.
That shoots the whole package to a few quid short of forty grand and for something that is supposed to be at the Polo end of the price list, it’s a bit pricey, really.
Under the hood there is the glorious 1.0 TSI petrol engine – this one was the upper rated 115 bhp version – and as regular readers will be aware we have long championed small capacity petrol engines as being a reasonable thing to live within this day and age. Indeed, this thing is so good, there is very little argument – as far as I’m concerned anyway – for the bigger diesel.
Performance figures show a top speed capability of 193 kph and a 10.2 second time for the 0-100 kph dash, while the consumption rate will astonish at 4.9 l/100 km (57.1 mpg) and the Band A4 tax rate will cost you just €200 per year to tax.
Allied to a six-speed manual ‘box (there is a seven-speed DSG auto available if you want to spend more money), this engine is a cracker. It revs smoothly and sweetly, has a cracking accompanying soundtrack and is as mad for road as a Skibbereen rower. In fact, it will pull like the proverbial dog.
It drives well too, with no unnecessary understeering traits – unless, of course, you’re acting the Mick – it rides well and handles a lot better than you would think something this tall reasonably should.
Inside, there is plenty of familiarity given the relationship with the Polo and the switchgear is all very easy to use. I also liked the 10” digital instrument screen and found the 8” touchscreen to be a model of user-friendliness. In fact, there’s little to dislike or complain about.
Upon mature reflection – as the late Brian Lenihan once mused during a disastrous Presidential election campaign – it was probably a tad unfair of me to as dismissive of the T-Cross as I was after our first encounter.
This is, without doubt, a class-leading car, or at very least one which is very close to the top of the pile.
R-Line model from €35,313 - €39,956 as tested.
One of the best one litre three pots around.
R-Line spec impressive, but not cheap.