T-Cross, VW’s baby crossover model, is unafraid of diesel antipathy

Despite being largely responsible for the current anti-diesel campaigns rampant around the world, states Iain Robertson, Volkswagen’s pursuit of cleaner cars still includes diesel power for its latest and most compact SUV model, among others.

In some respects, the ‘Dieselgate’ situation was unavoidable. While VW seems to have taken the brunt of the finger-pointing, which has scarcely dinged its overall reputation, even the array of ‘deniers’ that swore blind they were ‘not involved’ encompassed around 90% of the rest of the industry. The resultant ‘knee-jerk’ from governments has resulted in diesel’s fall from grace as far as new car registrations are concerned, although the used car sector is vibrant in demand.

Fortunately, diesel developments have continued apace and one of the latest is from VW, which knows more about the fuel and cleaning-up its worst side-effects than virtually any other carmaker. In its latest iteration, the new T-Cross model range has been bolstered with the addition of a moderately frugal and EU6-compliant 1.6-litre TDi engine, mated to either a five-speed manual (likely to be the most popular choice), or a 7-speed twin-clutch automated transmission, as tested here.

Considered alongside the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol power units available in 92 and 112bhp forms, while its specific output of 92bhp is hardly ‘heather-burning’, the four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit benefits from 184lbs ft of torque, which has the potential to make this version the punchiest of all T-Crosses. It will show its most significant card, when towing and, although the VW Group ‘triple’ is a sturdy little unit, ragging its guts out with a caravan in tow, which would increase its exhaust emissions significantly, makes a viable case for the 1.6TDi unit.

The new diesel engine is available in all trim levels bar the entry-level S, which means that the most popular SE trim level and the sportier R-Line will benefit from its application. Hooked up to the seven-speed DSG unit, its 0-60mph time is a modest 12.2s, the car topping out at just shy of 120mph, while emitting an equally modest 110g/km CO2. Attaining 52.9mpg, as opposed to the 48.9mpg of the 1.0-litre petrol may not be reason enough to make the shift to diesel. In addition, it is not exactly a cost-effective option, when you consider that the T-Cross petrol line-up commences at a (pre-discount) £16,995; the diesel variants start at £21,240 for the SE specification model in manual gearbox form, while the SE-L starts at £23,340, with the R-Line at £25,240, to which figures you should also add £500 for the DSG ’box. 

Sweet handling and packed with both driver connectivity and electronic vehicle aids, the T-Cross is already winning customers with its sliding rear bench (allowing adjustment up to 14cm forwards or rearwards, giving the practical choice between greater rear leg room, or 70-litres of additional boot space). Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist are among its array of driver pleasing features. Undeniably smooth and progressive, the instant speed of DSG gearshifts removes the inevitable and potentially jerky drop-off that occurs with a manual gearbox.

MSG Summary

If you desire a compact SUV, the T-Cross is an admirable choice but the diesel engine will be appreciated by caravan/trailer owners, even though it is an expensive option.

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