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2020 Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style

Car Reviews  ·  May 25, 2020

2020 Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style

The T-Cross is a small SUV offering from Volkswagen which is set to join the ranks of the Toyota CHR and the Mazda CX-3. It is a new model lineup that is based on the same platform as the Polo hatch retaining a small powertrain despite the SUV body. The T-Cross addresses a significant gap in the SUV range with its more modest size compared to the Tiguan. The T-Cross seems to focus in style more than other elements. It appears to be more practical than the Polo considering its dimensions.


The VW T-Cross is built according to a modular MQB-A0 that is a smaller version of the Tiguan, Golf, and the T-Roc platform. It is also utilised by the Polo to shed some light on the overall sizing and footprint. The T-Cross comes across as taller though with a boxier design meaning it has added practicality. The dimensions are 1760 mm in width and 1583 mm in height. 

It still has styling cues reminiscent of a rugged SUV though it provides a more urban-focused design. For example, there are chunky bumpers and off-road inspired bits that separate it from the standard hatchback in the city. There is also 180 mm of ground clearance which would be ideal for slight ruts at best. As an addition to the size considerations, the T-Cross TSI has 18-inch wheels as well.


The platform and the exterior dimensions may make one think the cabin does not have much to offer, but the opposite is true. It maximises interior spacing to provide optimal practicality. It has a sliding second-row seat which allows one to prioritise the backseat room or the boot capacity. 

Depending on what one is doing, it is possible to adjust the space ratio to suit the conditions. The sliding second-row would mean the boot capacity would either be 385 litres when the seat is back or 455 litres when it is forward. 

Beneath the boot floor is a spare space-saver wheel with 60:40 ratio. The amenities in the backseat are a mixed bag. There are two USB ports to keep the devices charged up and map pockets on the seatbacks. 

The rest of the cabin is well designed and ergonomic with the spacing as one would expect. The materials appear to be a hard surface. Following the initial squeezing of the plastics, they are very adaptable, so one is likely to forget. The gaps also appear to be millimetre-perfect, and some gloss adds to the finish, while the overall layout appears to be a bit intuitive.


The cabin improves the practical outlook via the available tech packages, central of which is an 8.0-inch infotainment screen that comes available with high-resolution graphics, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. There are Bluetooth connectivity and dual USB ports as well. Semi-autonomous parking packages are available, which saves from the grief of a kerbed wheel. 

There is a storage caddy in front of the gear selector, which houses a wireless phone charger pad along with the USB ports. The front door pockets are large though they are unlined upfront, so one gets padded elbow padding on the doorways. The steering wheel is optional, while the optional pack and the upgraded sound system and digital driver info screen are worth the revenue. 


The powertrain consists of a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder unit, though it is linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The output is 85 kW and 200 Nm of torque, which is understandable considering the capacity. This front-wheel drive is available in two options – the base-level Life and the higher-trim Style. A higher-spec 110TSI Style variant with a more powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine (110 kW and 250 Nm) is set to arrive in June this year. 

Ride and handling

The appeal of the engine has severally been stated as the raspy idle. Three-cylinder engines are also structurally unbalanced, so there is a bit of character. During acceleration, there is a unique engine note which arches upwards. The ride around town over cobbled streets is good. As the speed increases, the cabin is silent, and it sits above 150 km/h without much exertion. It is a bit slow though in acceleration, taking 10.2 seconds to reach 100 kilometres per hour. It makes up for it with an amazing fuel economy at 20.4 kilometres to the litre.


Safety is almost on the same level as the technology packages. There is city automatic emergency braking which operates up to speeds of 30 kilometres per hour, along with a front assist. That also works alongside lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and rear parking sensors. There are even packages to monitor the condition of the driver to provide alerts should they be distracted or fall asleep. The vehicle attained five-star Euro NCAP and ANCAP ratings, making it one of the safest cars around.


The price tag for $30,990 plus ORCs is economical for the Style TSI considering the provisions on power. The 85TSI variant can be had for $3,000 less, excluding ORCs.

Final thoughts

The Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI is more than just a mini crossover. It is built from the structure of the Polo, but it does not copy and paste. The T-Cross adds a lot more space for people and things, so it does regard itself as somewhat of a crossover, though small. It also adds to the practicality of the interior by providing intuitive settings for the centre stack and controls. 

There is comfortable space for adults in the back provided the rear seats are folded. The powertrain is also intriguing and can give the idea that the T-Cross is underpowered, but that is not the case. The T-Cross is a work of art, and it drives like a dream in the city. It may not be the best option for outdoor excursions in the country, though. This is an excellent option for city bugs.

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