Volkswagen T-Roc or T-Cross: which is our choice?

by Petrol Mum

Volkswagen Australia has released two all-new SUVs this year, the T-Roc and T-Cross. Although they may look similar they are actually based on different platforms with the T-Cross sprouting up from the Polo and the T-Roc from the Golf.

I recently spent a week each with the T-Roc 140TSI Sport (in Flash Red) and the T-Cross 85TSI Style (in Makena Turquois Metallic) to find out which of these two new SUVs on the block I preferred the most. In standard spec there is just over $10k price difference between the two with the T-Roc starting at a RRP of $40,490 (as tested with no optional extras) and the T-Cross at RRP $30,990. But with the two optional packages ticked on the T-Cross (R-Line Package $2,500 and Sound & Vision Package $1,900) plus metallic paint ($800) the as tested RRP for the T-Cross was $36,190, making this comparison a lot closer from a price perspective at least. These prices all exclude on-road costs.

VW T-Roc vs T-Cross

I like the overall exterior design of both of these SUVs, but the one feature that caught my eye on the T-Roc was the front blinker is located where the daytime driving lights are and I thought this was cute. Starting here at the pointy end there is a major difference between the two engines powering the T-Roc and T-Cross. The T-Roc has a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque, while the T-Cross has a 1.0 litre, 3 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with just 85kW of power and 200Nm of torque. On paper this gives the T-Roc a 3.0 second advantage for the 0-100km sprint (7.2 compared to 10.2 seconds). These engines are paired with a 7-speed DSG gearbox with small plastic paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel for ‘manual’ gear changes.

The T-Roc of course has the peppier engine and being it is all-wheel drive it felt good through the corners as well. The front-wheel drive of the T-Cross did suffer a small loss of traction from the front tyres under hard acceleration off the line, but overall the ride comfort of both SUVs was good. If you are planning on towing a trailer then you will need to opt for the T-Roc, which has a 1,700kg braked towing capacity, because the T-Cross is not rated for towing at all.

I did expect to see a difference in fuel consumption between the two, with the T-Roc having an official combined fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km and the T-Cross 5.4L/100km. But for my time with these two SUVs the T-Roc actually used less fuel with 8.8L/100km compared to 8.9L/100km for the T-Cross. My only explanation for this would be I did more freeway driving in the T-Roc compared to the T-Cross.   

The T-Roc also has a selection of drive modes to choose from including Eco, Normal, Sport, Individual, Snow, Off-road and Off-road individual. Under the Individual on-road mode you can adjust the Steering, Drive, Adaptive Cruise Control and Air Conditioning settings. Under the Individual off-road mode the steering, drive, four-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, air conditioning, hill decent an hill hold assist modes can all be altered.

The interiors of the T-Roc and T-Cross that I drove were very similar thanks to the T-Cross having the R-Line package that includes ‘Carbon Flag’ sports cloth seats and microfibre upholstery. Both have manually adjusted front seats for forward/back, recline and height, with the T-Cross getting additional lumbar support as well. The front seats of both SUVs were comfortable and I liked the use of dual fabric types on the seats but I thought the T-Cross was just that bit more stylish. My children commented that the cloth used was nice to sit on. And we all noticed that the plastics used throughout the interior in both SUVs were the hard type.

The leather covered steering wheel in both SUVs was nice to hold and the buttons are logically laid out, but I miss not having phone controls on the steering wheel. The voice control button on VWs is an androgynous silhouette of a face, but I was not able to test the system out as it had not been activated on these vehicles. Bothe SUVs also had the 10.25” digital driver’s dash that enables the driver to customise their preferred display.

The 8.0” touchscreen display in both the T-Roc and T-Cross is capacitive, meaning it has some gesture control functionality, and it has smartphone style graphics. I have found that the VW screens in general get very bad fingerprint marks on them, so a microfibre cloth is a must to be stored in the glovebox if this will bother you. One thing I do like though is the sat nav shows the elevation on the display

Under the arm rest of both SUVs was a hard plastic storage cubby and the T-Roc had three cup holders in the centre console, two are square-shaped with one being larger than the other, plus it had an additional espresso cup holder. While the T-Cross had two stylish-looking rigid hexagonal shaped cup holders near its manual hand brake.

At the front of the T-Roc centre console there is a deep storage area for your phone that is lined with a soft rubber removable mat for easy cleaning. There are two USBs and one 12V outlet here and both have wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The T-Cross has a similar set up, but the addition of the Sound & Vision package means it has wireless phone charging as well plus you get a Beats 300W premium audio system. Both SUVS come with identical media sources that include CD, SD card (both located in the glovebox), Bluetooth, AM/FM radio and USB with MP3, WMA and AAC music file compatibility.

For rear seat adult passengers both SUVs have ample head room, but leg room was a bit tight. They also both have two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but in reality there is only room for two car seats due to the width of the rear seat. Only the T-Roc has a central seat that folded down to an arm rest with two broad and shallow drink bottle holders in it. I thought these did not look like they would secure a bottle entirely well. The T-Roc also has two central air vents with manual on/off control only and one 12V outlet below them. The T-Cross only had rear air vents under the front seats, but it does have two central USB ports. The drink bottle storage cubby in the rear door of both SUVs was large as well.

 The T-Roc is slightly larger than the T-Cross, but in reality not by much for each exterior dimension. Even the luggage area is almost identical with the less than 10 litres difference between the two, 385 litres compared to 392 litres and next to no difference in the width and the length. You would fit the weekly shop in or a stroller and a small shop. Both have 60/40 split folding rear seats, but the T-Roc also has a central fold down door that enables you to carry longer items without the need to fold the seat down, which would be handy if you have two children in the rear seats. The boot on both of these SUVs is a manual open, with the ‘latch’ for the T-Roc located in VW emblem, which is a bit funky, and under the boot floor both SUVs have a temporary spare tyre.

The 85TSI Style T-Cross comes standard with the Driver assist package, so both of these VWs had adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist (LKA) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Both come with dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags as standard plus a standard rear view camera, but on the left-hand side of the display on the infotainment screen is a diagram of the vehicle’s outline that shows the 3600 sensors. I found by chance when I was slowly reversing out of my garage and my dog walked behind the vehicle that this system automatically brakes in reverse as well

The T-Roc has a 5-star ANCAP (2017) safety rating with an Adult Protection Rating of 36.56 out of 38 (96%) and a Child Occupant Protection rating of 43.0 out of 49 (87%). ANCAP tests of its AEB system showed GOOD performance in highway speed scenarios, with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios. ANCAP tests of the LKA function also showed GOOD performance and overall the Safety Assist score of the T-Roc is 71%.

The T-Cross has a 5-star ANCAP (2019) safety rating with an Adult Protection Rating of 36.89 out of 38 (97%) and a Child Occupant Protection rating of 47.77 out of 49 (85%). ANCAP tests of the AEB system in highway speed scenarios showed GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in all scenarios. Overall, effectiveness of the AEB system performance in highway speed scenarios was rated as GOOD. ANCAP tests of Lane Support System functionality showed GOOD performance, with the system intervening in some of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios. Overall the Safety Assist score for the T-Cross was 80%.

The service interval for the T-Roc and T-Cross is 15,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first. Using the Volkswagen Assured Service Pricing guide on their website I calculated that the first five scheduled services for the T-Roc would cost $2,796 and for the T-Cross $2,438. Volkswagen Australia has also recently introduced Car Plans for some new vehicles that enables you to pre-purchase a package that covers the first five services of your vehicle. For the T-Roc this reduces the cost of the first five scheduled services to $2,100 and for the T-Cross $1,800.

All new Volkswagen models come with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and one year’s membership to Volkswagen Roadside Assist. Roadside assistance can be extended if your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and you have the Volkswagen standard scheduled service carried out by a participating authorised Volkswagen Dealer, but Dealers may charge a service fee to activate this.

In general I prefer all-wheel drive SUVs for their sure-footedness on the road, so I would have thought my natural choice between these two would be the T-Roc. But the T-Cross 85TSI Style here with the two optional extra packages makes a strong case, particularly if you are not going to take your new VW off-road. So in this comparison due to its more up to date ANCAP safety rating, purchase price and lower service costs I prefer the T-Cross. Visit your preferred Volkswagen dealer to test drive both for yourself.

Automatic braking if object is detected while reversingBad fingerprint marks on infotainment touch screen
Comfortable cloth seatsNo phone controls on the steering wheel
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android AutoExpensive service costs

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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