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First Drive

VW T-Cross R-Line 1.5 TSI review: 148bhp crossover tested

Published: 15 Oct 2020

That doesn’t look new, what’s going on?

Well spotted, this is pretty much the same T-Cross we know and don’t really love. Sorry VW. You see, the problem with making so many crossovers is eventually there’s always going to be an idea-bereft forgotten child, and that’s the T-Cross. It is spacious compared to its rivals and is different from the Polo that it’s based upon, but inherently it’s rather pointless. You’d be better off buying the Polo and saving yourself a chunk of money. It’ll drive better too.

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Crikey. I actually just wanted to know what was new about this particular one.

Oops, went off on a bit of a tangent there. This is VW trying to pique our interest in the modern-day Polo Dune by fitting it with a 1.5-litre turbo four-pot engine in place of the usual 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols.

That ups power to 148bhp (from either 94bhp or 113bhp) and drops the 0-62mph time to 8.5 seconds, making this the swiftest T-Cross yet. VW reckons it’ll still do 44mpg on the WLTP cycle too, and we managed 39.8mpg on test without even trying.

Sounds interesting, although I sense a ‘but’ coming…

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Correct. Sadly, the price reflects the bump in power – in top-spec R-Line trim the 1.5 T-Cross starts at just under £27,000. Ouch. Oh, and as tested with a couple of choice options, ours was closer to £30,000. Thirty thousand pounds. That’s almost Mk7.5 Golf GTI money.

Also, the current best-selling T-Cross is the mid-spec 113bhp SE 1.0 with a six-speed manual gearbox, and that comes in at just under £21,000. The 1.5 only comes in the more expensive SEL or R-Line trims, and no matter what drivetrain you go for you’ll still get the T-Cross’s cheap plastic interior. Who’s going to buy this thing?

Anything else you’re not keen on?

As well as the higher trim levels, the larger engine can also only be paired with a seven-speed DSG gearbox. Yep, no manuals here. The DSG makes supremely smooth changes but it hunts for the highest gear in auto mode and negates the impact of the extra 35bhp – especially off the mark.

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Putting said gearbox into sport mode means it’ll hold a gear lower, but then you’ve got the issue of a noisy and not so beautiful-sounding four-cylinder engine. There is a manual mode with paddles behind the steering wheel, though, and taking back control is the way to go here.

There must be some good bits, surely?

To be fair, the T-Cross does ride reasonably well compared to its rivals. It’s not the softest over harsh surfaces but it’s well controlled and handles well too. There’s not too much road noise either, despite the larger 18-inch ‘Nevada’ alloy wheels that come on the R-Line.

As previously mentioned, the interior is spacious front and rear too (if very cheaply put together) and there’s also plenty of tech. Front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system are all standard-fit. So they should be at that price, though, right? Once again for those at the back – buy the Polo instead.


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