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Clear VW SUV-family similarity: the new T-Cross. (Volkswagen) 

What we're driving: Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen Group’s applications of its remarkably versatile modular MQB chassis stretch from its little Polo hatchback to the large Atlas SUV. Now there is a new addition to the family, the Polo-based T-Cross compact urban SUV, which uses the “AO” variant of the MQB architecture. 

The T-Cross joins an increasingly-populated sector in Europe—but it does not have off-road pretensions. Only available in front-wheel drive, it provides a sibling for VW’s T-Roc, to which it bears a strong family resemblance—and nothing wrong with that.

Longer (overall length: 4235 mm, or 166.7 in.) and taller (1584 mm/62.4 in.) than the Polo, it makes the most of its carrying capacity with a fore-aft sliding rear seat, taking the regular 385 liters (13.6 sq-ft) of luggage space to 455 liters (16 sq-ft). With its rear seats folded flat, the T-Cross’ overall cargo capacity becomes 1281 liters (45.2 sq-ft). European buyers will find that very acceptable. 

Engine choice at launch is just a turbocharged gasoline 1.0-L 3-cylinder in 85-kW (114-hp) or 70-kw (94-hp) iterations, driving through a 7-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox or a 5-speed manual for the former, 6-speed for the latter. Oddly, the DSG doesn’t really suit the T-Cross, making it feel a shade dull unless over-ridden via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The manuals, though, are slick, quick and make the most of the little engines’ power and max torque of  247 lb-ft (200 Nm) at 2000-3500 rpm. Max speed is 196 km/h (120 mph), with 0-100 km/h acceleration 10.2 s.

As with other MQB-based vehicles, handling is very good; ride on 17-in 6.5J wheels has been tuned to give a fairly firm impression. The T-Cross’ curb weight is 2800 lb (1270 kg). 

Safety features include Pedestrian Monitoring and City Emergency Braking Lane Assist, plus Rear Traffic Alert systems. Infotainment via an 8-in touchscreen covers Car-Net App Connect that combines the functionality of Apple Car play, Google Android Auto, and MirrorLink, allowing “mirroring” of a smartphone display on the screen. 

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