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Geneva show: VW Breezes in with T-Cross SUV

Cross purpose: The T-Cross Breeze concept is deliberately designed to have its own look rather than being a mini-me of the new Tiguan – a sign of things to come as the production version draws near.

VW T-Cross Breeze crossover concept ‘marks the start of a broad SUV offensive’


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2 Mar 2016

VOLKSWAGEN’S self-proclaimed “reorientation” in the wake of the global diesel emissions-cheating scandal has continued with the unveiling of the T-Cross Breeze cabriolet crossover concept at the Geneva motor show overnight, a vehicle the company says “marks the start of a broad SUV offensive”.

While the convertible body style was not anticipated until earlier this week, when images of the T-Cross leaked onto the internet, the concept previews an all-new small SUV that is headed for mass production – in tin-top form, at least – within about three years, making up for the time Volkswagen has lost without an entrant in one of the world’s fastest-growing and increasingly popular market segments.

Presenting the concept in Geneva, Volkswagen’s global brand chief Herbert Diess declared: “2016 is a year of new beginnings for Volkswagen.”

He went on to say that “with the T-Cross we are providing a first look ahead to Volkswagen models to come” and that the company will be “significantly developing our range of SUVs and in future offering an SUV in every core segment”.

The bigger new-generation Tiguan kicks things off in Australia in the second half of the year, while Dr Diess confirmed it will be followed by a new mid-size SUV – “for the USA and China” only, at this stage.

As GoAuto has reported previously, two new sub-Tiguan models are also well down the path of development: a slightly smaller and sportier SUV series based on the Golf small car “in the same style as the T-Roc concept car” and the light-sized, Polo-based crossover previewed by the T-Cross.

A new-generation Touareg is also in the pipeline, while various body styles across these core SUV model lines – coupes and convertibles, for example – are believed to be under consideration.

Volkswagen Group Australia is yet to confirm any of the new models for this market beyond Tiguan.

“It’s too soon to speculate on local models and timings for these new SUVs,” VGA public relations manager Kurt McGuiness told GoAuto today.

“Suffice to say, our SUV strategy is very important to us and we are certainly interested in expanding our SUV offering in Australia.

“In terms of local SUV launches, the all-new Tiguan will be launching in Australia towards the end of the year.”

Volkswagen chief designer Klaus Bischoff said the T-Cross concept – which the company promises will transform into the most compact SUV ever to come from VW – “reflects the new start of our brand” and a “radical reorientation for the design of compact Volkswagen cars”.

“We want to stir enthusiasm for ‘New Volkswagen’. In this instance we are doing that with an unprecedented vehicle concept in this class: a completely redesigned cockpit and design that is equally crisp and expressive,” he said.

“We have pulled out all the stops and put what is surely one of the most exciting four-metre SUVs of the modern day on its wheels.”

With VW aiming for sportier proportions with a 2565mm wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs, the T-Cross measures 4133mm in overall length, has a broad 1798mm width (excluding door mirrors) and overall height of 1563mm. It tips the scales at 1250kg.

By comparison, Mazda’s benchmark CX-3 rests on a 2570mm wheelbase, is slightly longer at 4275mm, has a 1765mm width and height of 1550mm. Kerb weight is also around the 1250kg mark.

With no diesel engine in sight on the VW stand in Geneva – where the updated Up micro-car also made its debut – the T-Cross emerged with a 1.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection TSI petrol engine – “the first step into the world of sustainable drives” – that has automatic engine idle-stop and brake energy recuperation systems on-board.

The little engine produces 81kW of power and 175Nm of torque (from just 1500rpm), driving the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox and capable of taking the vehicle from 0-100km/h in 10.3 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 188km/h.

Fuel consumption and CO2 values are an excellent 5.0 litres per 100km and 115g/km respectively. VW claims that in combination with the 40-litre fuel tank, the theoretical driving range of the T-Cross is 800km.

As seen with the Budd-e concept presented at the CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, the T-Cross interior rethinks the driver’s cockpit area, discarding conventional switchgear in the quest for “a new spatial experience” that instead makes use of a next-generation human-machine interface (HMI).

The company claims “this is no science fiction, but, rather, an early glimpse at where production models are heading in the medium term”.

There is a central control stalk, and window and roof switchgear, but otherwise all controls are touch-sensitive surfaces or executed as completely new “by-wire” solutions, VW says. Gesture control also forms an integral part of the operating interface.

In an attempt to avoid the ‘Russian doll’ effect that other brands have adopted, VW claims to have created a contemporary SUV exterior design with the T-Cross that can be immediately recognised as a Volkswagen but which “underlines the fact that each series and vehicle genre is perceived as completely independent within the brand”.

Reference points here include the “remarkably wide” grille, narrow headlights, unique LED daytime running lights, distinctive side profile (with double character line, running a different course to the new Tiguan) and wide boot-lid with integrated LED rear lights, opening up to a cargo compartment that can hold just under 300 litres.

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