When you are late to a party you need to make an impact.
Volkswagen knows it, which is why its newest SUV is called the T-Cross. With millennial styling.
There is no mistaking the youthful focus of the name and the compact positioning of a vehicle which needs to be good, to mount an attack on high value rivals including the Hyundai Venue and Kia Seltos.
A couple of competitors, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, are based on much smaller cars (Mazda 2 & Honda Jazz), and it shows in the lack of interior space, and those two are now really battling against newer and trendier arrivals in the sector.
There is new interest in city-style SUVs as people, old as well as young, look to maximise their motoring footprint.
These compact SUVs continue to boom, and will do even better – perhaps forcing baby hatchbacks into the history books – as more people look for something small and useable.
Volkswagen has an advantage in this cross-training effort because it’s baby cars, Polo and Golf, sit at the very top of their classes, and have comfort and refinement that tops almost all their opponents.
Which brings us to the T-Cross pricing and spec.
It might start at $27,990 with a three-cylinder turbo engine, and front-wheel drive, but it’s easy to get – very – carried away and spend well over $30,000.
The Style package brings things like radar cruise control, the $1900 Sound-and-Vision package with satnav and the excellent digital dashboard, and $2500 for the R-Line package with 18-inch alloys, upgraded trim, tinted rear windows and more.
But it’s the basics that set the scene for the T-Cross, as the chassis is taut with good ride, the baby 1.0-litre engine has a solid surge through the gears, fuel economy is excellent, and there is reasonable space in the boot and back seat.
It’s the external size that is going to draw most owners, because it is small and easy to park, but inside feels roomy and airy.
And, importantly, the base model is well equipped with the usual air-conditioning, but also including four USB ports; an 8-inch infotainment screen; reversing camera; auto safety braking and parking sensors.
As a drive, the T-Cross is good. It’s hardly sporty, and some people don’t like the sound from the three-cylinder engine, or the slightly bouncy ride on bumpy country roads, but there is a lot to like and almost nothing to criticise.
The price is not for everyone, but people who want to brag a bit with a Volkswagen badge will generally be happy to invest a little – or a lot – extra in a compact SUV which meets its rivals with brash confidence. I think T-Cross will be a genuine party pooper, and is so good I think it will really crash the party in this busy segment.
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