CRA New Motoring Explored

By Thomas Falkiner

The pocket-friendly VW T-Cross Comfortline is the pick of the bunch, since its launch in 2019 it has been something of a success story for the Volkswagen brand.


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Combining stylish aesthetics, fine road manners and useful all round performance, it’s not hard to see why this compact SUV ranked as SA’s 14th best-selling car of 2021. While the Highline model impressed me when I sampled it before Covid-19 turned our world into a dog and pony show (remember those carefree days?), it is perhaps its less powerful Comfortline sibling that now makes the most buying sense.

Why? Priced (sans any optional extras, of course) at R365,100 means this entry-level model is a whopping R78,700 cheaper than the mid-tier alternative, which in these troublesome times is a worthwhile saving in anybody’s book. Volkswagen achieved this feat by fitting the Comfortline with a detuned version of its 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine (70kW/175Nm vs the Highline’s 85kW/200Nm) and swapping that slick seven-speed DSG gearbox for a long-throw five-speed manual that sends drive to the front wheels via a clutch with a strangely aggressive engagement point.

Of course armchair critics will be quick to bemoan these spec-sheet deficits, but in my experience behind the wheel I found this reduction in power and torque hasn’t done much to blunt performance.

With two less forward ratios there’s arguably a bit more turbo lag in certain situations (the DSG transmission has a wider spread of ratios to help keep things on the boil) but on the whole there’s more than enough oomph here to propel you along the black stuff at a useful rate of knots.

Nippy around town with decent point-and-squirt acceleration, the T-Cross Comfortline is also surprisingly adept out on the highway where it will happily maintain an easy 140km/h cruise for hours. The engine is nice and tractable — accelerating from under 120km/h seldom requires a shift down to fourth unless you are loaded with lots of cargo and/or passengers.

Being less endowed in the horsepower department you’d expect the Comfortline to sip less fuel than its Highline stablemate. However over 395km of mixed driving conditions I registered an identical figure of 5.9l/100km. While not to be snubbed at with oil prices homing in on the $90 per barrel mark, I was hoping for more frugal numbers.


The Comfortline’s detuned 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine provided ample shove for day-to-day driving. Image: Supplied




In terms of the overall driving experience, the Comfortline ferrets its way through corners with the same verve as other T-Cross models: its Polo-sourced underpinnings bestowing this compact SUV with the kind of nimble, sure footed handling that y encourages you to carry a bit of speed through corners. Sure, it’s no GTI but you won’t die from boredom either.

The ride is equally pleasing with a relatively supple suspension system that does well to shrug off bumps and imperfections — a real godsend in a place like Joburg where a lack of maintenance and incessant rain have turned our streets into lumpy bitumen scabs. VW has also done a fine job at managing NVH levels and as such there is little road or wind noise to ruffle your senses whilst pootling along at the national limit.

The cabin of the Comfortline is well pieced together albeit using quite a lot of hard and scratchy plastics. While this is disappointing to find inside the more expensive T-Roc, I feel that it’s not that much of a big deal in the T-Cross because, after all, this vehicle is supposed to be the entry point to Volkswagen’s SUV lineup. In any case, despite the obvious signs of corporate cost-cutting, there’s a general feeling of solidity about this machine’s innards that suggests a long and hassle-free service life — bring on the free-range kids and dogs. My test unit had clocked nearly 15,000km and there were no rattles or squeaks to speak of, even when traversing bumpy off-road terrain.

Standard features include a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, front and rear park distance control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and automatic headlamps. There’s also a proper old-school air-conditioning system with mechanical rotary switches that allow you to quickly and easily manipulate fan speed and temperature without having to pinch, swipe or slide some distracting haptic touchscreen. Genius. What isn’t, however, is the fact that Volkswagen has omitted USB-A in favour of the newer USB-C variety — a pain if you’re still running old smartphones like my aged iPhone 6S. Black roof rails are included as standard fare as are 16-inch “Belmont” alloy wheels.

Optional features fitted to my Comfortline included an R8,000 Composition media system with app connect and wireless charging, R20,900 R-Line body kit with 17-inch “Manila” alloy wheels, R14,700 LED headlamps and something called a “Park Pack” that, for R10,200, bolts on power-adjustable heated side mirrors, park assist and a rear view camera system. Although nice to have, none are worth coughing up extra for, especially not when you’re trying to make the most of that R78,700 saving over the Highline model.

Nah, keep it simple, keep it basic and the aggressively priced T-Cross Comfortline makes an enticing buying proposition within the competitive compact SUV segment: a handsome and practical contender that is good to drive and will not cost a fortune to run.


Fast facts: 2022 Volkswagen T-Cross Comfortline 1.0 TSI

Engine: 999cc three-cylinder turbo petrol

Power: 70kW at 5,000rpm

Torque: 175Nm from 2,000 – 3,500rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual

0-100km/h: 11.5 seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 180km/h (claimed)

Fuel: 5.9l/100km (achieved)

Price: From R365,100


Main Image: R-Line bodykit is a R20,900 option on the T-Cross Comfortline. Image: Supplied



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What do you think of the pocket-friendly VW T-Cross Comfortline? If you were in the market, would you consider buying one? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you found our content informative, do like it and share it with your friends.


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