Volkswagen South Africa introduced its latest SUV, the VW T-Cross into the local market towards the latter part of 2019. Though we weren’t invited to the local ride and drive event, the local subsidiary did send us a VW T-Cross 1,0 Highline derivative to sample a few days ago.

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Over the course of a week, we drove the VW T-Cross in a variety of road conditions, which gave us a pretty clear picture of what the newcomer is about. Incidentally, the T-cross is the latest addition to VW’s SUV line-up, which currently includes the Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace and Touareg (and soon the T-Roc). Here then, are 5 Things to Know About the VW T-Cross 1,0 Highline.

Read our review of one of the T-Cross’ most recent rivals, the Hyundai Venue here.

1) Its boxy appearance helps create a spacious interior.

VW’s recent design approached with its SUVs is not as curvaceous as those of, say, French counterparts. However, the boxy treatment with wheels pushed out to the far corners and a wheelbase of 2 551 mm, has created a spacious cabin, with plenty of headroom. Boot space also benefits as VW’s claim of 377 litres. Boot volume can be even expanded to 477 litres when the rear sliding seats are in their foremost position. Speaking of the rear seats, they are mounted fractionally higher than the fronts, which give rear occupants a better view ahead.

2) It has a full suite of connectivity.

The Highline derivative we had on test was kitted out with a keyless entry and start system, which made it feel premium. Added to that, it also featured VW’s latest-generation infotainment interface. The system is controlled through a full-colour touchscreen that has 3D maps, smartphone connectivity for your apps and (handily) wireless phone charging (though there are USB ports if needed).

3) It is frugal.

To date, the VW T-Cross has been available with just one engine option. The three-cylinder 1,0 turbocharged motor produces 85 kW of power and peak torque of 200 N.m. The latter is available from a low 2 000 r/min. This only transmission option is a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. VW claims this combination sips fuel at 4,9 L/100 km. That figure is a tad optimistic, but we must admit that the fuel gauge didn’t budge for the first 130 km of travel. The automatic transmission is largely responsible for effectively utilising the torque on offer from the small engine. VW SA will be adding two more powertrain options to the line-up through the course of 2020. One is a 1,0-litre TSI with less power and the other is a 1,5-litre with 110 kW.

4) It feels more compact on the road than its dimensions suggest.

At nearly 4,2 metres the VW T-Cross is almost 200 mm longer than its sibling the Polo. However (high seating position aside) the new SUV feels quite wieldy and nimble on the road, no less so that a Polo. A quick-acting steering and generally flat ride take away any sensations that you’re piloting an SUV. With the parking sensors and optional rear camera slotting into parking spots is quite a simple task. We were impressed with its overall ride quality, but the large alloys and low profile tyres did transmit pock-marks and road corrugations into the cabin quite easily. The wheels are great to look at, but owners to prioritise comfort may opt for a small diameter rim with large profile tyres.

5) It is keenly priced.

Small SUVs are quite the flavour of the month. Just about every automaker offers a product in this segment. As a result of the options available to potential buyers, manufacturers have to keep pricing competitive if they plan to make sales in these tough economic times. For its list price (see below) the VW T-Cross Highline offers 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-function steering wheel, climate control, park sensors (front and rear), cruise control, wireless mobile charging, LED headlights and Composition Media with App-Connect.

Summary

Over the course of December and our time behind the wheel, we noticed a VW T-Cross at nearly every junction we stopped at. The little SUV from VW seems to have found favour with buyers and, we suspect, is eating into VW Polo sales. Having driven the model it is very easy to see why buyers are flocking to VW dealers to buy the little crossover.

Model: VW T-Cross 1,0 TSI Highline DSG

Price: R365 000

Engine: 1,0-litre turbocharged inline three

Transmission: seven-speed DSG, FWD

Max power: 85 kW

Max torque:  200 N.m

Top speed: 193 km/h

0-100 km/h: 10,2 sec

Fuel consumption: 4,9 L/100 km