I drove the new Volkswagen T-Cross at the media launch in Knysna last week. VW South Africa says its their most important car launch for 2019, and rightfully so. The T-Cross falls under a new segment, a compact SUV, but it is based on the Polo.

It is slightly bigger in size and has a somewhat bold look, which I’m a fan of, especially in the signature turquoise shade. VW describes the T-Cross as dynamic with a striking appearance, spacious interior, practical, versatile and connected; I think it sums it up well. I’m not at all surprised at the interest and attention it has already garnered – around 1400 people put deposits down for this car before even seeing it in the flesh! And I received a higher than usual amount of replies and queries to my social media posts from the launch event; can see the interest is there.

The T-Cross will offer options like 4x USB ports (2x at the back); Beats sound system with a 300W 8 channel amp and subwoofer in the boot; wireless charging in the front for supported smartphones – Qi standard; a range of driver assistance tech and extra safety features.

In this post I’m going to highlight the bits you should know.

Bigger than a Polo

The T-Cross is based on the Polo but is bigger at 4.2m in length (182mm more than the Polo), and 1.58m in height (compared to the 1.46m on the Polo) and has a wheelbase of 2551mm.

As you can see from the pic, that’s quite a noticeable difference between the two vehicles. And if you drive a Polo, the T-Cross looks like a ‘natural’ upgrade if you’re looking to get into an SUV-type vehicle. I personally think it’s the perfect choice for Johannesburg living; great for the urban side and ideal if you want to visit nearby game farms etc for quick getaways. Not that it’s limited to these two scenarios but I know it will be popular for new or small families.

All about the engines

Under the hood, the T-Cross is powered by two three-cylinder petrol engines. The 1.0L TSI engine with an output of 85kW is on sale and is the derivative we drove in Knysna at the launch. It is turbocharged and delivers a maximum of 200Nm of torque. VW says the car goes from 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 193km/h. I can’t say I achieved this during the launch drive, but the claimed fuel consumption is 4.9L/100km. This particular variant comes in a 7 speed automatic transmission.

I was pleasantly surprised by this engine, it was better than I expected. I enjoyed the drive, it was comfortable and the turbocharged engine makes all the difference. Though at times it felt easier to overtake than others.

The 1.5L 110kW version will be coming to South Africa in the first quarter of 2020. 

The final 70kW model will be heading our way in the second quarter of 2020, and this one will be priced under R300 000.

All about the tech

Despite this feature not being available at launch, the T-Cross will be the first model to launch with VW Connect, a combination of the VW Connect app and a DataPlug, which is a retrofit connectivity solution that works with Bluetooth. It’s a Plug and Play solution that will be plugged into the Onboard Diagnostic Interface to send data to the paired smartphone via the VW Connect app. I got a sneak peak at the Festival of Motoring and it looks good, with a clean interface.

It will show info like an overview of the car data; service info; assessment of the driving style; fuel consumption; automated saving of car location; digital logbook (can be exported); a gamification aspect of collecting trophies and points; 24/7 contact to VW Assist.

The dataplug is standard on Comfortline, Highline, and R-Line models. VW Connect will replace the current My VW App in South Africa and will be extended to all VW owners from next year.

All about safety

The T-Cross may be an entry-level SUV but the standard safety features include driver and passenger airbags; side and curtain airbags; Hill Hold Assist; Multi Collision Braking System; front and rear brake discs; electronic stability control including ABS; a flat tyre indicator; and seat belt reminder.

The T-Cross scored 97% in the Euro NCAP safety ratings for the “adult occupancy protection” category, and 86% for kids. It scored an overall 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

Trims and features

The T-Cross is available in Trendline (only on the 70kW version), Comfortline, and Highline, both of these will offer the R-Line exterior.

The model we drove at launch had the following extras: keyless entry; R-Line exterior with 18″ alloy wheels; Park Package (park assist, rear view camera and power-fold mirrors) which really helped while driving; infotainment package (Discover Media: 3D Maps, App Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display). CarPlay and Android Auto was supported.

Please refer to the VW website for extras and details of trims. 

It’s all in the price

1.0L TSI 85kW Comfortline – R334 600
1.0L TSI 85kW Highline – R365 000
1.5L TSI 110kW R-Line – R403 500

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 3 year/45 000km service plan and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

VW is one of the most loved brands in this country and based on the comments and messages I received, I can confidently say this is great value. You know how we all look for a good deal, well this one is definitely more car for the money you spend. Not to mention the modern looks that is sure to get some attention, and new technology features to pair up with your smartphone.

The most common question was will this replace the Polo, and the answer is no. The Polo pricing is around R240k and the T-Cross for now starts at R334k, with no pricing yet announced for the 70kW version, but my understanding is that it will sit just below R300k, not closer to Polo range. And as for the Tiguan, that is the next level in the range. Rivals in the category? Think Ford EcoSport and Renault Captur. 

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