Volkswagen T-Cross Review

By Alexi Falson on 18 May 2021
image for Volkswagen T-Cross Review The compact crossover SUV market is by far the fastest-growing segment of the market, and as a result, almost every manufacturer has created a small, compact SUV of their own to get a slice of the pie.

Volkswagen is no different, reaching into its bag of parts and pulling out a taller version of its iconic Polo that packs the bonuses of added ride height and more practicality in a stylish, modern package.

The problem that stems from the fact that the compact crossover SUV market being one of the fastest-growing is that the T-Cross has a huge number of competitors, and has to shine in a few key areas to remain an attractive buying proposition.

Does it? Let’s find out

Starting Price: $28,390

OnlineAuto Savings: $3,645

Volkswagen T-Cross (85TSI LIFE) Specifications

Model Date 2021
Series C1 MY21
Variant 85TSI LIFE
Transmission 7 SP AUTO DIRECT SHI
Drive FWD
Engine TDFI
Engine capacity 999
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 12 valves
Engine RPM 5000 / 2000
Cylinders T3
Torque 200
KW 85
Fuel tank size 40.0
Fuel usage specs 5.4 / 0.0
CO2 123
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Volkswagen T-Cross car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Volkswagen T-Cross lineup kicks off at $28,390 for the base model Life variant, and jumps to $30,390 for the mid-range CityLife variant. The range-topping T-Cross Style variant is priced from $31,390; note that these prices do not include on-road costs.

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Using OnlineAuto’s car purchasing service, you could save an average $3,645 by sourcing one of our car specialists to help you find the best value model for you.

What Features Does the Volkswagen T-Cross Have?

The base model Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Life comes packaged with 16-inch alloy wheels, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, cruise control, air conditioning, 8-inch composition media unit with six speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging parking sensors with manoeuvre braking, fog lights, automatic headlights and wipers, as well as leather-wrapped steering wheel and some smart driving tech like front assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection and lane-assist with driver fatigue detection.

Stepping up to the more expensive 85TSI Style variant adds dual-zone climate control, automatic LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, LED ambient lighting, comfort sport seats, chrome roof rails, wheel-mounted paddles, electric folding mirrors, as well as blind-spot monitoring and proactive occupant protection system.

Volkswagen also offers a number of packages, including the Sound & Vision package that adds a digital driver’s display, navigation system and premium BOSE sound system, a safety pack that throws in adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear-traffic alerts and park assist, while the R-Line package adds styling tweaks inside and out, bigger 18-inch wheels and tinted windows.

Range Features:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Rear-view camera
  • 8-inch Composition media system with six-speakers
  • LED Headlights (Style variant)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (Style variant)
  • 17-inch alloys (Style variant)

Volkswagen T-Cross Colours

Polar White Chinchilla Gray
Syringa Violet Romance Red

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

Volkswagen is a brand known for producing extremely high quality products, and in terms of its driving dynamics, the T-Cross very much upholds that reputation. The added ride height from the Polo’s underpinnings means that there’s a huge amount of visibility from the front of the cabin, and the dual-clutch transmission is exquisitely smooth. In terms of an urban run-around, the T-Cross is more than capable of handling tight maneuvers thanks to its tight turning circle, and remains comfortable even when you head onto lesser-quality B-roads.

Overall, Volkswagen has done a great job in packaging the T-Cross with steering that is light in all situations, but offers enough feedback for the driver to remain engaging, as well as adding suspension that is capable of handling bumps without transmitting this into the cabin. A particular highlight of the T-Cross is the wonderful DCT transmission, which offers effortless, yet razor-sharp shifts. It isn’t a powerhouse, though, with just 85kW and 200Nm of torque on offer, which falls short of a number of its key competitors. This lack of power, though, is made up for in terms of its economy, which we’ll cover in a minute.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

Considering the T-Cross is based on VW’s smallest car, the Polo, you might expect it to have some shortcomings in terms of space and practicality. Up front, the cabin has been laid out in a way that gives you the impression you might be driving something like the T-Roc; the T-Cross’ bigger sibling. There’s more than enough headroom up front for the tallest of drivers and passengers, with a few key cubby holes for your phone, water bottle and loose items.

The rear of the cabin is slightly more problematic, with limited headroom on offer for taller passengers for longer trips, but this is unlikely to phase anyone on a shorter, urban commute. Leg room is much more comfortable compared to head room, thanks to VW’s clever packaging of the T-Cross, and there’s even two USB outlets to charge up devices in the rear of the cabin.

In terms of cargo space, the T-Cross offers around one-third more storage than in the Polo, which means that there’s 385L in basic form, 455L with the boot adjusted, and up to 1285L with the rear-seats folded down.

Is it Safe?

The Volkswagen T-Cross has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum Five Star Safety Rating, with the base model Life coming packaged with safety equipment like front assist with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, lane assist and parking sensors as standard. The base model, however, lacks a number of key features that are available either on the step-up Style or the optional driver assistance package.

In this context, the T-Cross - in its most basic form - falls short of the safety technology that Japanese manufacturers are happy to throw in as standard.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

While it might fall short in terms of safety tech as standard, Volkswagen’s T-Cross takes the fight directly to its competitors when it comes to fuel economy. The official claimed range figure stands at just 5.4L per 100km on a combined cycle, which is remarkably efficient. The tiny 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit might be lacking in power, but it more than makes up for this when it comes to economy.

Our Verdict: Is the T-Cross Worth it?

As we’ve mentioned, the VW T-Cross is fighting in perhaps the most competitive market segment, and it does perform exceptionally well when you consider the quality of its driving dynamics and its fuel efficiency. It is no doubt the perfect car for a number of buyers looking for a compact, high-riding companion for the urban commute, but buyers should be aware that the competition is so fierce in this segment, it’s worth shortlisting the T-Cross and comparing it to its competitors.

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Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. 5.4L per 100km economy
  2. 16-inch alloys as standard
  3. Seven-speed DSG automatic transmission
  4. Five-year, unlimited kilometer warranty
  5. 85kW/200Nm engine


  • Slick & fast DSG transmission
  • Highly economical engine
  • Overall drive quality is superior to a number of competitors


  • Lack of AWD variant
  • Engine lacks power
  • Key safety equipment left as optional extra

OnlineAuto Rating: 7.5/10

Volkswagen T-Cross Competition

Volkswagen T-Cross

Mazda CX-3
Nissan Juke
Toyota Yaris Cross
Ford Puma
Kia Stonic


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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