T-Cross-es all the T’s and dots all the I’s

2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 180 MPI AT S

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that this German marque has this crossover in the country that goes for just P1.098 million. Granted the T-Cross 180 MPI AT S is made in China, it still comes backed by Volkswagen’s 84 years of automaking expertise and heritage.

Right off the bat, it looks elegant and has a certain air about it not commonly seen in Chinese brands. Like most VWs, it comes with a flat, unpretentious design with straight lines, a wide body, and five basic colors. This one is Chinchilla Gray.

The three-slat chrome grille is plain and so are the halogen headlamps. It doesn’t have daytime running lamps and front fog lamps, but what does give its façade a bit of an edge is the silver garnish on the bumper and the one on the underbody as well.

The profile view shows its best features — the slim body cladding that underscores its short front and rear overhangs, a pair of roof rails, a shark’s fin antenna, 60-series tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, and even the stylish rear spoiler. I just wish they tricked out the C-pillar to give it a floating roof effect which has been very popular in crossovers and SUVs over the last few years.

While it may not have a panoramic roof (that’s reserved for the SE variant), I like the shape of the rear and how it’s setup with the taillights connected by a glossy panel, rear fog lamps, more underbody garnish, the unusual yet clean placement of the badge (at the bottom center of the tailgate), and that squarish bumper to finish off the look.

It won’t be winning any beauty pageants, for sure, but its dimensions coupled with the exterior’s mix of simplicity and modern elements give it a certain amount of presence on the road that’ll get it noticed, and in this very crowded segment, sometimes, that’s all it takes to sell.

I was expecting a smart key but this variant only offers keyless entry and key-in ignition so if you’re used to more innovative ways, it does feel like a step back in time.

The interior has a high ceiling for a crossover but the cabin is as gray as the exterior. Highlights here come from the diamond pattern on the fabric seats and dashboard face (front passenger side), and the geometric shapes and lines on the different panels that help give it a modern character.

No surprise that the cockpit uses hard plastic paired with a very basic design, but as it doesn’t have too many amenities, the controls aren’t crowded in one place, which makes everything easy to see and use.

Standing out over all the rest is the colorful eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay but only four speakers. It’s not as responsive as I would want it to be but the interface is intuitive enough to operate. It has one Type A USB port in front, and a Type A and Type C (probably a segment first) at the rear.

Space is very good versus competitors and the seats are nicely bolstered and adjusts to the proper driving position easily. There are no second-row vents and the manual climate control only has four fan speeds but it does have a pollen filter.

Its 1.5L four-cylinder gas engine has 113-PS but it takes a good amount of throttle pressure to feel the pull and of its 145-Nm of torque. It weighs just a little over a ton but when rushed, it grunts all the way to 2,600 RPM in the first two gears of its six-speed automatic transmission before upshifting. It starts to get more nimble as it picks up speed and is able to maintain 100 km/h with relative ease. Consumption is an average 8.2 km/l.

Handling feels light, which makes it easy to maneuver. That low wide stance also makes it feel a lot more stable compared to others in this segment, and that includes cornering and on long fast bends.

Noise, vibration, and harshness levels are very low for the price point and that’s terrific for a first-gen model.

Safety features I wish it has is a rear camera and side/head curtain airbags. (these are available in the top-spec model)

The 2021 Volkswagen T-Cross 180 MPI AT S, which is currently sold at the promo price of P1.068 million (until supplies last), is a classy-looking compact crossover that’s affordable, has all the basics, and ticks all the necessary boxes for a Philippine-market crossover.