Motoring / Motoring News
When it comes to the decision of choosing a name for any vehicle, you can be guaranteed that Volkswagen has faced some tough decisions in its successful and often chequered past when defining what they view as the ideal “people’s car’’.
Of course, while Wolfsburg’s name originally referred to a single model, the pre-WW II KdF-Wagen that became the Beetle, it has broadened its horisons since then in setting out to create not only a single car for the masses, but an entire range of models stretching from the up! to the Constellation truck.
Seven decades on from the Beetle though, and while many would argue that the eighth generation Golf is the ideal ‘‘volks-wagen’’, the shift in buyer preference towards SUVs has seen the T-Cross become the latest people’s car to attract a great deal of hype when the wraps came off at the Kyalami Festival of Motoring in August.
In fact, such was the fanfare that Volkswagen let slip that around 1 000 pre-orders were received before the T-Cross’ actual local touchdown, with the eventual units moved over the last month four months of 2019 totalling 3 469 – 1 132 of which found new homes in October alone.
While still lagging behind a number of other models overall, the T-Cross’ performance has resulted in it occupying the third step on Volkswagen’s monthly sales podium behind the Polo Vivo and its MQB A0 based sibling, the Polo. However, after spells with my colleagues behind the wheel last year, I was afforded the opportunity to spend the whole festive season in the T-Cross.
Competing in a segment that is as much about looks as in-car tech, the T-Cross has pulled the former off to a tee as the combination of Tiguan and Polo derived styling cues has resulted in not only a thoroughly youthful and funky looking crossover, but one which is also stylish, albeit thanks to the 17-inch Manila alloy wheels that forms part of the must-have optional (R18 600) R-Line styling pack that alleviated the dullness of the Pure White paint finish.
Step inside, the T-Cross’ affiliation with the Polo becomes clear as the layout and design is broadly similar, but with a minimalistic if not striking look. There was some disappointment at the use of low-rent plastics on the dashboard and combination of grey and black materials that made the cabin feel dark and gloomy.
With my tester being the mid-range Comfortline model, the lack of certain niceties such as the Active Info Display instrument cluster, Beats sound system and keyless entry was not missed much as it provided the ideal opportunity to sample what is likely to be the people’s specced T-Cross.
Bar the R-Line pack, the only other options fitted came in the form of the Parking pack (R9 300) that included Park Assist, folding electric mirrors and a reverse camera, and LED headlights (R13 200) that inflated the as-tested price tag from R334 600 to R375 700.
As standard, the Comfortline boasts cruise control, all around electric windows, a tyre pressure monitor, a grippy multi-function, leather-wrapped steering wheel, front armrest, a wireless smartphone charger, height adjustable driver’s chair, four USB ports and the easy-to-use 6.5-inch Composition Media infotainment system with Bluetooth and App Connect.
It was, however, the comfort that impressed as soon after its arrival, JD 56 PP GP had to ferry its minder to Despatch in the Eastern Cape via a stopover in the Free State, and then to the Garden Route over December. Despite its Polo foundations, the 180 mm ground clearance and supple suspension made for an extremely comfortable ride, aided by the well-bolstered cloth seats and overall levels of space.
However, as much of a boon as space inside the T-Cross is with those seated in the rear benefitting the most in spite of having to do without an armrest, the design of the boot makes it appear tiny with a rated capacity of 377-litres. With the 60/40 split back folded down though, which happened on a number of occasions in carting various household items from Despatch to the Garden Route, the space increased to a more commendable 1 281-litres.
The star of the T-Cross though is its engine. Tipping the scales at just under 1.2-tons, the 85kW/200Nm delivered by the 1.0 TSI engine resulted in the junior “Tiggie” feeling punchy and light on its feet with just enough oomph when you need it the most. As well as the engine, the seven-speed DSG transmission is about as slick as you could ask for and goes about its job seamlessly, although it tended to get confused when unexpected throttle inputs were introduced.
This was but a minor annoyance that plagued the T-Cross throughout its near month stay, the biggest being the key-holder that rattled with the key inserted in the ignition and an initial warning of low tyre pressure at the coast that was soon rectified.
As for consumption, the T-Cross, unexpectedly, proved to be a frugal sipper by consuming a total of 257.6-litres of 95 and recording a best of exactly six-litres/100 km that included spells with the air-conditioning on and the cruise control being used.
In truth, a month and 4 328 km with the Volkswagen T-Cross has only indicated why the hype surrounding it has been justified. Its rather bland and nondescript interior aside, it is a thoroughly well rounded package that does the majority of what was meant to do with absolute aplomb.
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