This month marks two years of T-Cross production

This month marks two years of T-Cross production

Not all Volkswagens are high-priced and come replete with all manner of snazzy materials and electronic gadgets. The least expensive T-Cross has much to recommend it to those who want a no-nonsense yet still characterful small crossover.

You won't find much in the way of soft plastics in an S spec T-Cross, nor is there four-wheel drive (for any variant). How about some VW logo downlighters to save your suede loafers from puddles? Afraid not. Also, the boot carpet is somewhat less than luxuriously thick, there's no reversing camera - so what, it's only 4.1 m long and has lots of glass - the rear brakes are drums and the manual transmission has only five ratios.

During seven days with the baby VeeDubya I didn't miss any of the stuff that's in non-poverty pack examples, particularly when there tends to be so much stuff in cars which you either never use or worse, can annoy its owner. Examples include Kias that play an unwanted tune when a driver takes their seat, speed-dependent BMW mirrors that ignore a setting commanding them to remain retracted, Audis which no longer have volume knobs, and so on.

For so very many reasons, sometimes a base spec car can have a refreshing honesty about it. This definitely applies to the T-Cross S, something which it shares with the much older up! and Amarok. Also, it's priced from GBP18,360 which for a Volkswagen, is on the low side.

Things missing from the base 1.0-litre petrol variant include a spare tyre (instead, there's an air compressor and puncture repair kit), just the one USB socket, no front seat armrest, and an unsplit rear bench (though the backrests are split-fold). It feels a touch mean to note all of that when the car does come with air conditioning, a 12V socket, three rear head restraints, height adjustment for both front seats and a tray under one of them, electric windows in the back, heated mirrors with blind spot monitoring (no power-folding), plus stop-start and energy recovery under braking. 

The 999 cc three-cylinder engine's 70 kW (95 PS) and 175 Nm are perfectly adequate, probably because the design is admirably light. A typical solid VW feel to everything is present too. That includes reassuring thunks when any door or the boot is closed, plus the simple A/C controls as well as all other interior components feeling robust in a way that isn't necessarily so in some models from other brands.

Volkswagen doesn't make any other engines or gearboxes available for the S, so the next steps up, SE or above it, United, are where you need to head to get the 81 kW (110 PS) and 200 Nm turbocharged version of the same 1.0-litre petrol unit. You can still have the non-turbo 70 kW alternative in an SE or a United but the six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG choices that come with the 81 kW/110 PS turbo remain unavailable.

There are two further model grades: SEL (from GBP23,070) and R-Line (from GBP24,970). As with all other T-Crosses in Britain, there's no diesel engine but instead, you've the choice of the 81 kW 1.0-litre or a 110 kW (150 PS) and 250 Nm 1.5-litre. In some countries, a 70 kW 1.6-litre TDI is also available.

The turbocharged four-cylinder 1.5 Evo has a standard seven-speed DSG for both SEL and R-Line whereas the turbo triple can also be ordered in six-speed manual form. There's way more standard equipment with these two trims and their prices only remind you what a comparative bargain the 70 kW S is.

At launch coming up for two years ago (in LHD markets), it had seemed that this would likely be another Volkswagen which would soon dominate its size class in the European region, yet it hasn't worked out that way.

Not that the T-Cross isn't sought-after: 72,224 examples delivered over the first eight months of this tumultuous year proves that. The problem for VW is how popular the new Captur is, this being the top dog year to date with 103,599 delivered. Other strong challengers include the 2008, Dacia Sandero Stepway, Hyundai Kona, and Ford Puma.

As markets recover from the collapses of earlier in 2020, the T-Cross and its close relative the Polo will help the Landaben/Navarra plant in Pamplona return to full strength. And even though car sales fell again in September (down 13.5% after a 10.1% drop in August) in the country where the T-Cross is manufactured, the little VW crossover's total shot up by 60% and became Volkswagen's number two model behind the Golf.

Data for the European region's four other large markets were not yet available at the time of publication. Over the first eight months though, the T-Cross was the German market's number one small crossover with the Kona in second place.

We're about 18 months away from a mid-cycle styling refresh and Volkswagen might make some tweaks to the powertrain choices around the same time. That probably applies to variants which are produced elsewhere too, the T-Cross also being built in Brazil, with two special extended length variants for China (T-Cross for SAIC Volkswagen and a slightly altered model called Tacqua for FAW VW). 

Completing the near-global reach of this model, next year India gains the locally built Taigun, which, while it has a different name and unique platform, shares much with the T-Cross. Also in 2021, Lamdaben will welcome another small crossover when production of the Nivus commences alongside the T-Cross and Polo. It's already being built in Brazil, and it can be thought of as a sort of T-Cross Sportback.

Perhaps this time next year then, Volkswagen could be hitting the Captur hard via a two-pronged approach to the B-crossover segment. Even now though, the T-Cross remains one of the leaders in the size class and when the competition includes the likes of the Ford Puma and Peugeot 2008 that's strong praise indeed.