Volkswagen T-Cross: road test of the technological and customizable B-SUV

If there is one thing that could be blamed on the Volkswagens of the past, it was to be perhaps a little too gray, in some ways anonymous. Reassuring, reliable, and well made, but certainly less personal than many competitors. Here, with the new T-Cross, a model designed for the broadest possible audience, in Wolfsburg they worked a lot - more than on any other model today in the range - to create a fresh and young car, colorful and captivating, both inside and out.

Volkswagen T-Cross: road test of the technological and customizable B-SUV
Volkswagen T-Cross: road test of the technological and customizable B-SUV

A strategic model in Volkswagen's T-Family range, namely SUVs: after all, in the B segment, which represents about half of the market for new cars in Italy (48% in the first 4 months of 2019), 45% is constituted right from high-wheeled vehicles. Ergo, one out of five cars sold in Italy today is a B-SUV. Let's find out how the new Volkswagen T-Cross is on the road in this public preview.

Dominating the model's personality is the front, with a flat bonnet reinforced by two deep ribs, squared full LED headlights (with L-shaped luminous signature) integrated in the grille, a horizontal chrome element to emphasize the Volkswagen logo and a rounded quadrangular shape ( detail taken up by T-Roc) for housing the fog lights. The possibility of having a two-color bodywork is foreseen, precisely as it happens on T-Roc, for a total of 12 colors.

The color represents the turning point in the customization of T-Cross: through the Design Packs, available in the colors Black, Orange and Turquoise, the personality of the car changes thanks to the different inserts for the dashboard, seats, advertisements in the bumpers and on the spokes of the rims in an alloy. Never had Volkswagen gone so far.

Finally, the rear is characterized by lights with regular and massive shapes, composed of a single piece (as on Polo) and joined by a black element that contains a red reflector able to continue the LED graphics of the lights ideally: a trendy element but at the same time original.

One of the fundamental characteristics of T-Cross is the space about its compact dimensions: with a length of 4.11 cm, 5 cm more than a pole, the wheelbase is 2.56 m, while the height reaches 1.58 m and width 1.76 m). Also thanks to the forward movement of the front axle, the interior space is high in all directions (still remaining in the segment), with a luggage compartment that from 385 liters of minimum capacity can become 455 liters thanks to the front seat sliding forward. 14 cm with felling 60/40.

There is also functional space for the legs of rear passengers, even for those who, like myself, are more than 1.95 cm tall. When the rear bench is folded down, the volume reaches 1,281 liters, with the practicality of the front passenger seat backrest which can be folded forward to load long objects. The only flaw for rear passengers is the absence of air vents: on the other hand, there are 2 traditional USB sockets to recharge the devices. Great space for driver and passenger, who can benefit from a seat height of 60 cm, a little less than the 62 cm offered by a Tiguan, which is however much more significant.

The plastics are all rigid: the only soft part is the armrests on the door panels. Actually, they are not very satisfying at sight and touch. But the assemblies seem really neat, both inside and outside at tolerance level. Moreover, at VW, they explained to us that it was decided to invest more on standard equipment than on soft plastics.

Color and personalization are one of the dominant aspects of the interiors.

Which sweep away the austerity of "traditional" Volkswagens thanks to an entirely colored dashboard (depending on the layout and packages) and an informal environment.

Designed around the Active Info Display (the configurable 11.7-inch digital instrumentation with the possibility of having the full-screen navigator map) and the 8-inch infotainment screen, both on the same level.

The display of the infotainment system, with a glossy glass cover, holds the fingerprints but is positioned to reduce glare, at a very comfortable height to reach with your fingers (without taking your eyes off the road too much). The touch is capacitive, and the reactivity is excellent, while the graphics are the classic of the Volkswagen group systems (in this case we do not have the third generation of the MIB, present instead of on the new Skoda Scala that we tested last week). Present Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (via Cable), and all the screens related to the onboard computer and multimedia.

New is the gear lever, and the steering wheel is new (we also find it on the Passat restyling presented last January).

The controls are almost unchanged (the button is convenient to access the ADAS screen in one go), but changes the design of the central part and of the crown.

Which appears thicker and better to hold, also thanks to the soft leather covering. In terms of technology, they also report four USB sockets (two in front and two in the back), the DAB radio (standard on all new Volkswagens from May) and wireless charging for compatible smartphones, as well as Keyless access (optional).

T-Cross offers three engines, all with front-wheel drive, and a range of power for all tastes: it starts with the 1.6 TDI diesel with 95 hp and 250 Nm of torque, passing through the three-cylinder 1.0 TSI petrol from 95 and 115 hp, with a respective torque of 175 and 200 Nm. The available transmissions are those with 5 (1.0 TSI 95 CV and 1.6 TDI) and 6 ratios (1.0 TSI 115 CV), or 7-speed DSG (1.0 TSI 115 CV and 1.6 TDI ). All units comply with the Euro 6D TEMP | regulations Driving Euro 6D vs. TEMP: RDE differences, WLTP, NOx and CO2 emissions: what changes.

The Volkswagen group's MQB A0 platform remains a guarantee: already tested on the new Volkswagen Polo, on Seat Ibiza, Seat Arona, and Audi A1.

The compact modular architecture is offered in a simplified version compared to the MQB: there is no all-wheel drive ( not even as an option).

The rear suspensions are always with interconnected wheels (nothing multilink on the more powerful versions as it happens instead on the MQB).

Consequences in real life? Almost unnoticeable: T-Cross offers a "German-style" structure, able to carefully filter out road roughness without ever being excessively soft and yielding. The roll on corners is minimal, even with 17-inch wheels as in the case of the specimen under test. In general, as already seen on Polo, the atmosphere during the march is that of a higher-segment car, with good general soundproofing and high traveling comfort. The raised driving position, then, represents an added value that many will like.

The proven engine is a 1.0 TSI with 115 hp, a three-cylinder engine that we had already tested on the largest Volkswagen T-Roc last year, and which here promises higher performance with acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 10, 2 seconds and a maximum speed of 193 km / h. The small petrol, equipped with a particulate filter, almost always manages to hide the vibrations and the classic noise of the three cylinders, thanks to the good general soundproofing and to roundness in the satisfactory delivery. Not bad for the 200 Nm torque boost, but they really feel above 3,000 rpm. At lower speeds, in fact, to have a little more verve you need to scale down, a pleasant operation thanks to the 6-speed manual gearbox (5 ratios on the 95 hp version), equipped with a short stroke lever but with precise grafts; the clutch pedal is also light.

The perfect match, however, is the one with the 7-speed DSG gearbox, a double clutch that manages to best manage torque delivery throughout the arc. For 1,500 euros, this is a highly recommended optional. Consumption? The house declares an average of 4.9 liters of gasoline per 100 km in the WLTP cycle, even if in our test (characterized by different uphill roads traveled cheerfully) the onboard computer signaled an average of 7.5 liters per 100 km. We reserve an in-depth review to be able to detect "normalized" data.

All T-Cross versions include, as standard, the City Emergency Braking System, automatic emergency braking with Pedestrian Monitoring pedestrian recognition system.

Front Assist (front monitoring system) and Lane Assist, which is the system that keeps the car within the boundary lines (without centering the lane but using the ropes to choke the trajectory).

The Blind Spot Sensor (the sensor that detects the presence of vehicles in the blind corner) with Rear Traffic Alert function (warns of arrival of cars from the sides when reversing).

Optional (but standard already from the second Style level) the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) maintains the safety distance from the vehicle in front by adjusting the speed thanks to a front radar.

Which always works excellently, the proactive protection system occupant (by closing windows and roof, pre-tensioning the belts and maximizing brake pressure in the event of an accident) and the Park assist system for automatic parking.

Volkswagen T-Cross is positioned slightly higher at the level of attack price than the competition (Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Kia Sonic, Ford EcoSport), but justified by more opulent standard equipment and a fresher project. It starts at 19,000 euros for the 1.0 TSI 95 CV Urban version, a price that drops to 17,900 euros (-1,100 euros) for the launch period.

Optional on all at 235 euros the App Connect (with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and additional USB port), while to have the Active Info Display digital instrumentation you need to spend 410 euros (only on Style, while it is standard on Advanced). The most advanced infotainment system with Discover Media navigator, online services Car-Net Guide & Inform Basic 36 Months and free map update, costs 810 euros (on Style and Advanced). Interesting, to have a complete endowment from the base, is the package that, with 700 euros, includes App Connect, parking sensors, and multifunction steering wheel.
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