2022 Volkswagen T-Cross Style review (2022)

7.7/10Score

Score breakdown

7.5

Safety, value and features

7.5

Comfort and space

7.0

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Good to drive
  • Looks great
  • Solid driveline

Not so much

  • Halogen headlights, no LED option
  • PAYG service costs
  • No rear armrest or cup holders
  • Rear cross-traffic alert not standard

VW’s smallest SUV was, as ever, a long time coming. The Volkswagen T-Cross landed here in 2020, which must have been a bit disappointing for the German giant because something else landed here as well, putting a dent in its triumphant arrival.

Despite the events of the past two years, the T-Cross has cemented itself in the VW range, defying supply constraints and managing to be at or near the top of the marque’s overall sales tally. It isn’t anywhere near the cheapest compact SUV but it isn’t the most expensive, with one European rival costing at least ten thousand dollars more.

It isn’t the most powerful or feature-packed either, with even its VW stablemate (and lower-riding twin under the skin) Polo packing a lot more gear for similar money and certain other cars throw in some features as standard the T-Cross wants more money for.

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Pricing and features

At $30,750 before on-road costs, the Style is the second step in the two-car T-Cross range. That seems like a bit of cash for such a small unit but you’ll be paying more for a Polo.

For your money you get 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo, reversing camera, remote central locking, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, leather shifter and steering wheel trim, powered and heated folding mirrors, wireless phone charging, LED taillights and a space-saver spare.

VW’s media system runs on an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Opinions on this system vary but I find it reasonably easy to use and don’t have much to dislike. It has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+ digital radio, and works really well with phones.

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Annoyingly, the headlights are halogen which, while not unusual in this class, is annoying. The much older Mazda CX-3 has LEDs available in some grades. Some of its competitors also feature a more complete safety package as standard, but at least you can add those features to the T-Cross as part of the optional Driver Assistance Package.

The standard safety kit list includes six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward auto emergency braking (low speed with pedestrian detection), driver attention monitoring, reversing camera and lane departure warning. The kids are taken care of with three top-tether anchors and two lots of ISOFIX points. The T-Cross scored five ANCAP stars in April 2019.

A $2200 Sound and Vision Package upgrade gives you a full digital dashboard as well as sat-nav and an upgraded sound system. The Driver Assistance package includes rear cross-traffic alert (*cough* should be standard on all cars, not just VWs), blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and folding mirrors for $1200.

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There are eight colours available and only white is free, with the remaining costing $600 with the exception of Makena Turquoise, which is $900.

As is rapidly becoming the norm across the VW Australia fleet, the R-Line styling kit is standard, meaning some sporty visual upgrades inside and out.

If you’re looking around for other cars in this space, your choices are, of course, legion. The Skoda Kamiq is a few grand more and bigger, the Mazda CX-3 can be had in a wide range of specs but isn’t considerably cheaper these days (and it’s getting on a bit).

The Kia Stonic is cheaper and feels it (even in top-spec GT-Line form) and its Hyundai counterpart, the Venue, is cheaper than the T-Cross but not as well-equipped even in Elite spec. The hugely underrated Euro-sourced Ford Puma also plays in this space at a similar price point, with a big boot, funky looks and a turbo three-cylinder engine.

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Comfort and space

As you might imagine for such a small car, it’s not exactly roomy. However, it's clear a fair bit of work has gone into making the most of the space and it starts with a massive 385 litres of boot space, huge for such a small car and bigger even than the Polo on which it is based. With the seats down you have 1286 litres.

Rear seat passengers taller than about 150cm will need to plan their entry through the tight door aperture but once in, folks up to 180cm will have a cosy but comfortable fit as long as the driver isn’t any taller.

Headroom is good and knee room is surprisingly good, with plenty of light from the rear windows. The rear seat will also slide forward towards the front seats, bringing smaller children and/or animals closer to the front occupants.

It's clear a fair bit of work has gone into making the most of the space and it starts with a massive 385 litres of boot space

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Sadly you don’t get much in the way of storage, with just bottle holders in the doors and pockets in the back of the front seats. No cup holders or armrest, though, which is a bit of a shame.

The front is, again, very spacious given the T-Cross’ upright vibe, with a high roof and plenty of space. You do get cup holders here, of course, as well as a wireless charging pad perfect for your phone. You also get an under-seat storage tray on the passenger side.

It's a well-made cabin that has a nice mix of materials with just a little bit of scratchy plastic here and there, something very common in this class. Also common is the fact that there isn’t a lot of colour to break up the plastic.

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On the road

The basics

Engine:1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission:7-speed dual-clutch
Power:85kW @ 5000-5500rpm
Torque:200Nm @ 2000-3500rpm
Fuel consumption:5.4L/100km (combined)
Price:$30,750 + on-road costs
ANCAP rating:5 stars

The T-Cross 85TSI Style ships with VW’s titchy 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder producing 85kW at a high-ish 5000-5500rpm and an impressive 200Nm between 2000 and 3500rpm.

It is a resolutely front-wheel drive proposition, with power delivered via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.

This is not the lightest of little SUVs at over 1200kg but the T-Cross gets along okay. The quoted 0-100km/h is a believable 10.2 seconds, which puts it on par with pretty much everything else in the class.

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VW's seven-speed DSG automatic isn’t at its best in the T-Cross, with a slightly bumbling nature that its Polo counterpart doesn’t display, so that’s a little confusing. It takes a while sometimes to decide which gear it wants to give you and over the course of this week-long test, that got a little grating.

It is, however, very nice to drive once you get past that. The steering is well-weighted, delivers enough feel to let you know what’s going on and is well geared, so you won’t be twirling the wheel too much to get the car in and out of tight corners or tight spaces.

A turning circle of just 10.6 metres makes it an ideal city car.

Steering is well-weighted and delivers enough feel to let you know what’s going on

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The T-Cross is reasonably happy on the freeway, too, which is where the torque figure comes into its own. Rivals without the advantage of a healthy twist number fall away when you’re trying to overtake or even keep up with fast-moving traffic.

VW’s MQB platform rarely fails to deliver and in this application provides an excellent ride for such a small car, even on relatively large wheels and tyres. It’s very quiet at a cruise and around town. The suspension dispatches bumps with little drama except for the bete noir of almost all torsion beam cars, those wretched rubber speed bumps in car parks.

As ever, the rolling lab fuel figure of 5.6L/100km is a little optimistic, with the T-Cross returning 7.1L/100km in our hands. You also need to know that being a small Euro turbo, it will expect a minimum of 95 RON fuel where its naturally-aspirated Korean and Japanese competition is less picky.

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Ownership

Volkswagen offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on its passenger cars along with roadside assist.

You can pre-purchase three or five years of servicing through VW’s Care Plan. For the five-year plan you’ll pay $2100, which is $765 cheaper than pay as you go.

The three-year package is $1300, with a less-handy saving of $171. It’s not particularly cheap but nor is it outrageously expensive when you compare with some of its rivals which either have shorter service intervals (12 months/10,000km vs 12 months/15,000km) and/or aren’t significantly cheaper.

If you don’t go with a Care Plan, you can expect to pay around the $500 mark (give or take) per service and the four-year service is a bit of a whopper, nearing $1000.

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VERDICT

The T-Cross offers a combination of dynamics, looks and interior space that are worth the extra bucks.

The T-Cross is neither the cheapest to buy nor run of the extensive small SUV market in Australia. The Style isn’t even the cheapest T-Cross, with mostly cosmetic changes to justify the price rise. It is the nicer of the two, but unusually it’s worth stretching if you can to the Life as the Style can feel a little spartan if that kind of thing worries you.

Either way, the T-Cross is definitely worth going for in a more general context. The Hyundai/Kia pair are a bit lacklustre in the engine department and the Kia is obviously just a higher-riding Rio where at least the Venue does what the T-Cross does and looks very different to its hatchback sibling.

It is irritating that a couple of really important safety features aren’t standard and that the pack you need to add them isn’t exactly cheap, but the T-Cross offers a combination of dynamics, looks and interior space that are worth the extra bucks.

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2022 Volkswagen T-Cross Style specifications

Body:5-door, 5-seat light SUV
Drive:front-wheel
Engine:1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission:7-speed dual-clutch
Power:85kW @ 5000-5500rpm
Torque:200Nm @ 2000-3500rpm
Bore stroke (mm):74.5 x 76.4
Compression ratio:10.5 : 1.0
0-100km/h:10.2 sec (estimate/claimed)
Fuel consumption:5.4L/100km (combined)
Weight:1236kg (tare)
Suspension:MacPherson struts front/torsion beam rear
L/W/H:4108mm/1760mm/1583mm
Wheelbase:2563mm
Brakes:Ventilated disc front / solid disc rear
Tyres:205/50 R16
Wheels:16-inch alloy (space-saver spare)
Price:$30,750 + on-road costs

7.7/10Score

Score breakdown

7.5

Safety, value and features

7.5

Comfort and space

7.0

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

8.0

Technology

Things we like

  • Good to drive
  • Looks great
  • Solid driveline

Not so much

  • Halogen headlights, no LED option
  • PAYG service costs
  • No rear armrest or cup holders
  • Rear cross-traffic alert not standard

Peter Anderson

Contributor

Peter Anderson spent his high school years reading car mags in the back of class, and is mostly unable to count past the 18 fingers he has.

Sam Rawlings

Photography

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