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Volkswagen T-Cross

The VW T-Cross I’ve just been driving has left me with a problem.

Should I add it to my Car of the Year (so far) section?

Well I can’t. And that’s because the section is called Car of the Year, not Cars, so I will have to change it once the year has ended.

The T-Cross would definitely get an honourable mention, but it’s not Car of the Year, even though it’s generally excellent.

Next year’s Cars of the Year will contain all the motors that are up for consideration, then once the year is over they’ll be divided into different categories to suit my choices according to type, price and size.

That way I won’t be able to write myself into the hole I find myself now.

What category would the T-Cross find itself in?

Hmm? I suppose “Big small car” would suit the T-Cross perfectly because that’s exactly what it is. Don’t worry, I’ll invent something better than that.

Built at the same Spanish factory in Pamplona, near the French border, that produces the VW Polo, its starting point gives you some idea of what it is.

That’s right, it’s a Polo, but not as we know it. It may share the same platform but the T-Cross is 2in longer and 4.5in taller, at 13ft 6in and 5ft 2in.

VW call it a “five-seater” but I wouldn’t want to be sat in the middle of its back seats.

That’s because it’s so called middle “seat” is only 11in wide and passengers have to spread their legs each side of a 7in transmission tunnel used in four-wheel-drive versions of the larger VW T-Roc, which uses the same modular MQB platform.

That apart, though, this “compact SUV”, as VW call it, uses its extra inches to good advantage.

For starters there’s its height, much demanded by SUV owners, who like to have a high-up view of the road ahead, but also need to peer down on lesser cars along with having that dominant, almost brutal, way of sitting high up above them in traffic jams.

Its extra height also means owners get those vital accessories of roof bars, so important to complete the rugged SUV image, but pretty much useless when it comes to actually finding anything big enough to carry.

The T-Cross’s extra length makes it a comfortable four (not five) seater, with plenty of rear leg room for two (not three) adults and a boot with enough space for a decent family shop, at a metre wide (39in) and 64cm (2ft 1in) deep.

If you’ve got too much shopping you could always balance it on the roof bars.

Fold down the backs of the rear seats and the whole thing stretches to 150cm deep (4ft 10in) leaving enough space for two sets of golf bags and their trolleys.

The whole of the rear seats are also on rails and slide over six inches backwards and forwards (well it wouldn’t be sideways would it).

While that adds up to an extra six inches of boot space it also provides a bit of a conundrum.

What do you do about that six inch wide, 10in deep hole that opens up between the rear seat backs and the normal boot? I suppose you could put all your plastic bottles from a big shop in there. It’s big enough for even one-litre bottles.

Maybe it would make a good place for storing shoes, unwanted library books, taking laundry to the cleaners or even putting Tiddles in on her way to the vets to have a bell fitted?

Some car reviewers have described the T-Cross interior as being cheap and plasticky. Not me.

I thought that its mix of light and dark grey trim, with swathes of patterned matching plastic finish across the full length of the dashboard, plus around the door handles and air vents, turned the car into a practical yet pleasing place to be.

I could understand why its seats were cloth rather than something posher when a supermarket sandwich exploded all over the driver’s seat, then easily washed out, but what I couldn’t understand was why VW even give people the choice of choosing a manual gearbox when its seven speed auto box makes driving such a simple and easy joy.

At the moment it adds around £1,500 to the final price, but I can see the death of manual gearboxes is on the way, with autos being so efficient and reliable.

VW’s brilliant 999cc, three cylinder turbo gave the car all the performance “Compact SUV” drivers need and the efficiency required to see us through to the days when all cars will be electric.

It averaged 43mpg, close to its claimed figure of 45mpg, without me even trying and it looked ultra modern and hugely desirable thanks to its colour choice of Makena Turquoise metallic, which turned out to be a £750 extra.

I’d willingly dump every one of its infuriating “safety” features for a free paint job, with matching wheels.

Sadly that’s not allowed in a society that’s obsessed with doing and saying what is seen as “the right thing” rather than having fun and freedom of expression.

IMAGE RATING

Volkswagen T-Cross R-Line 1.0TSI auto.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: First look reveals it to be a massive jumble of lights, badges and chrome strips, yet somehow it works, all coming together to make a pretty package.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Split into two by a huge 22cm (9in) deep piano black and red strip which runs from side to side, it’s attractive, rather than racy, which it isn’t meant to be anyway. Lack of a visible exhaust, hidden behind the rear bumper, makes it out to look electric, which it isn’t.

T-Cross2

PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen 8-inch sat nav with speed limit and 2 or 3D display, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with distance monitoring, trip computer, heated door mirrors with blind spot warnings, auto wipers and lights, 18-inch black and silver alloys, DAB stereo with front and rear twin USB points, Bluetooth, SD card reader, aux, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link.

NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Huge full size spare wheel holder under the boot looks like an empty cargo ship with just a useless blow and go kit inside.

TASTY TOUCHES: Small pull-out bitz ‘n’ bobs secret drawer under driver’s seat.

FAST OR LAST: Decent turn of speed when pushed and a quiet, smooth M-way cruiser that’s goof for far more than short journeys.

WONGA WONDA: Definitely. Considering its size, kit and space it’s different enough to be desirable.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Would she ever? The right size and the right looks for a modern girl like Chantelle.

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