Polo mints, (the mint with a hole), have been refreshing breaths since 1948 and the Polo car has been refreshing driving since 1975, so when Volkswagen was looking to fill the ‘compact SUV’ hole in their vehicle line-up, the Polo seemed an obvious way to begin – yes I know it’s a tenuous link but it does all make sense. Anywho, Volkswagen New Zealand gave us the keys to their all-new T-Cross and as it came dressed in Makena Turquoise, its presence was hard to miss.
Stripped down to the core, the T-Cross has an ‘MQB’ platform that can be found on their very popular and very adept Volkswagen Polo, so it would be easy to pigeon hole it in a ‘Polo in high heels’ category, but it’s much, much more than that.
First and foremost is its actual footprint. It’s 53mm longer, 200mm wider and 113mm taller than its compact car sibling and almost all that space transfers to the interior. Thus making it rather roomy for something that claims ‘compact’ in its title. It seats four and a half with relative ease and has a luggage space that is a ‘weekly-shop’ 455L size and this can be extended to a flat panel TV 1,281L size when you drop the seats (remember to make sure all passengers are removed first).
Overall, the exterior looks like a scaled-down Tiguan which in many ways it is. It boasts a classic VW SUV design with the wide grille that leaves you in no doubt to its provenance. The bonnet lines are sculpted as is its strong shoulder line. The wheel arches and sills come with a protective casing and my ‘Style’ model had 18-inch alloys. The rear is handsome with a roofline spoiler, an LED lighting structure, full-width reflector bar and some lower protection should you care to venture into a bit of dirty terrain.
My ‘middle of the range’ model came with VW’s 1L three-cylinder turbo engine which despite sounding great, the uneven cylinder set-up has a powerful tune to it, lacked a bit of oomph off the line. Don’t get me wrong, 85kW and 200Nm is a lot from a 1L engine but it takes a noticeable amount of time to pull away. There is a 1.5L in the R-Line option and that in my opinion, would be preferred. On the flip side, when strapped to the excellent 7-speed DSG gearbox, it offers fuel-efficiencies of 5.4L/100km.
The interior is a cool place to be. My model came with supportive ‘hexalink 3D’ fabric seats and a ‘reptile’ trim. There’’s some softness to the upper dashboard finishes and everything feels well put together, even a satisfying thud to the door-closing. Infotainment screen and the instrumentation cluster are both digital and therefore very personalisable, the six-speaker sound system is good, it’s got 4 USB ports (2 front/2 back) and wireless phone charger.
The T-Cross’s gear stick is a break from the norm too. Rather than have the gear identifier (R, N, D) displayed beside the gear stick, VW have put it on top of the gear stick, it gives the impression that the SUV is a manual – it looks less cluttered.
Lastly but by no means least, is the T-Cross’s driver and safety aids list. Virtually every box has been ‘crossed’. Everything from blind-spot and cyclist monitoring to crystal clear reversing camera and driver fatigue sensors, it’ll even assist in your parking (parallel and side), in fact, the only thing it didn’t have was adaptive cruise control, again VW is saving that for the R-Line customers.
I had the T-Cross for a week and it joined the family and I on all pursuits. It’s football season so we ventured to the away game ably assisted by the T-Cross’s navigation (which I had on my instrument cluster). We shopped, for which the compact SUV gladly made room for. We nipped here and there, for which the T-Cross’s tight turning circle made light work of and we eleven ventured up to a regional park which had the T-Cross enjoy some bumpy gravel.
Volkswagen has a large range of vehicles to choose from, including commercial vans and campers, through SUVs and down to all manner fo passenger vehicles, but the crossover market was the glaring big hole. Not any more thanks to the mint new Volkswagen New Zealand T-Cross.