IT MAY be years behind most competitors, but the Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze is the first concrete proof that Wolfsburg is about to dive headfirst into the small SUV game.
Based on the next-generation Volkswagen Polo’s MQB-0 underpinnings, the production version of the T-Cross is expected to debut later this year or early in 2017 as a conventional hard-topped wagon crossover rather than a four-seater convertible answer to the Range Rover Evoque Cabrio.
Australian sales aren’t likely to kick off until 2018.
Interestingly, it will be closely related to the all-new Audi Q2 that is one of the stars of the Geneva Motor Show, though no visible panels inside or out will be shared between the two Volkswagen Group marques.
While the rear doors and turret from the future production model are missing, the T-Cross Breeze still provides plenty of hints as to what the Wolfsburg brand will once day pitch against the CX-3 and Honda HR-V – not to mention the Toyota C-HR that will usher the maker into the B-segment SUV sector.
The proof is in the tape measure. At 4133mm long, 1798mm wide, and sitting on a 2565mm wheelbase (some 35mm short of the Q2’s), the T-Cross Breeze sits bang in the middle of the small SUV sphere.
Even Volkswagen’s boss of design, Klaus Bischoff, cannot hide his enthusiasm for the concept’s potential.
"The T-Cross Breeze is a teaser for the most compact sport utility vehicle that Volkswagen plans to make – and the nucleus of a new SUV and convertible design in the compact sector," he said in a statement accompanying the concept’s unveiling this week.
Likely production cues include the new corporate look Y-shaped nosecone with dual LED slimline headlights, and an oversized VW roundel mounted on a horizontal bar; wide wheelarches bookending a scalloped side feature; and T-shaped tail-lights set within a clamshell valance.
A peek inside reveals what the as-yet unnamed small SUV’s dashboard architecture will look like, as well as the direction the company is going with what it calls the ‘human machine interface’. That said, it is certain five, not four, people will be accommodated in the version that comes off the production line.
Under the T-Cross Breeze’s bonnet is the Volkswagen Group’s fine 1.0-litre three-cylinder direct-injection turbo TSI petrol engine, delivering an impressive 81kW of power and 175Nm of torque, and driving the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. A diesel is also sure to be in the mix.
Tipping the scales at a reasonably lightweight 1250kg – within a cooee of the CX-3 – it can scoot to 100km/h from standstill 10.3 seconds, and exceed 190km/h; easing off the throttle means a 5.0L/100km fuel use figure is possible.
The T-Cross Breeze will be one of four new SUVs coming to a Volkswagen dealership near you, starting with the second-generation Tiguan out midyear, and followed in some markets by a long-wheelbase version with seven-seat capability.
Following that is a redesigned Touareg sharing the new Audi Q7 MLB-Evo architecture, as well as yet another crossover said to be about the size of the Volkswagen Golf, and previewed by the T-Roc concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.