New Volkswagen T-Cross facelift review: Volkswagen’s small SUV gets a mid-life update

New Volkswagen T-Cross facelift review: Volkswagen’s small SUV gets a mid-life update


The T-Cross has been given fairly minimal changes for this mid-life refresh. It feels like a real Volkswagen with the improvements in interior quality, but the overall driving experience is still somewhat dull. Competitive pricing and financing deals will once again prove to be the key to the success of the T-Cross small SUV.

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More than 1.2 million Volkswagen T-Cross models have been sold since the car was launched four years ago. Keen to capitalize on the popularity of its compact SUV, the manufacturer has unveiled a T-Cross with an illuminated fascia – and now we’ve gotten an early chance to drive it on European roads.

The small SUV market remains as competitive as ever. VW’s Skoda Kamiq sibling was updated earlier this year, while rivals now include everything from the Toyota Yaris Cross and Renault Captur, to the Peugeot 2008 and Ford Puma. Therefore, the T-Cross will have a tough task to stand out in its field.

Volkswagen set out to at least make the new car look different. Visual changes to the T-Cross include new front and rear bumpers, revised foglights, LED headlights and taillights, plus the sportier R-Line model we’re testing here, and some new 18-inch alloy wheels.

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Equipment levels for the new T-Cross have also been raised. Every model gets a digital driver display, and there’s an 8-inch central touchscreen standard – with higher trims featuring a 9.2-inch screen. The infotainment system itself is easy to navigate and the accuracy is impressively clear. An “Air-Care Climatronic” automatic air conditioning system is available as an option, and yes, it comes with VW’s frustrating touch-screen sliding controls. Although at least it’s backlit now.

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The main problem we’ve had with the T-Cross before was the lack of high-quality materials in the cabin. Volkswagen has come a long way to address this issue, and the dashboard and door cards now feature remarkably soft, high-quality upholstery materials. There’s also a new leather steering wheel lifted from the Volkswagen Golf.

In practical terms, the T-Cross is pretty average for the class. Headroom is good enough front and back, plus the sliding back seat is a nice touch. However, the 385-litre boot is found in its Skoda and Seat siblings, as well as the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.

Mechanically, the new T-Cross is the same as the old one, and our car is equipped with the most powerful 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine with 148 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. Power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to the front wheels, with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 8.4 seconds. It’s an engine with plenty of poke for a car of this size and feels responsive enough, though we doubt most would stick with a more affordable 1.0-litre turbo. The brakes on our car were strong, which inspired a lot of confidence during hard stops.

However, the automatic transmission remains a sticking point for us. It’s jerky at low speeds and slow to launch during hard acceleration. Fuel efficiency is still very good, despite being the more powerful offering, with VW claiming an overall economy of 47.8mpg.

As before, the T-Cross handles well. Our car’s larger 18-inch wheels caused it to fidget a little over low-speed bumps and potholes, but for the most part, the T-Cross is one of the more comfortable small SUVs on sale.

model: Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line
price: £31,000 (estimate)
engine: 1.5 liter 3 cylinder turbo gasoline
moving in: Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power/Torque: 148 hp / 270 Nm
0-62 mph: 8.4 seconds
maximum speed: 124 mph
Economy: 47.8 mpg
For sale: Early 2024

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