Crossing my Ts: The Volkswagen T-Cross Car Launch Media Drive | Motourismo

 by Toby Alberto




VW Nostalgia


I am no stranger to the Volkswagen brand. My first car was a hand-me-down 1976 VW Kombi (Californian), which my family procured from Dau (the Philippines’ go-to place for anything and everything American in the 70s and 80s), second hand. I sold that microbus in 1998 (it was in pretty good running condition and it fetched PHP98,000. 


A close representation of the Alberto 1976 VW Kombi from a photo at the VW showroom.


I imagine, with all the hipster nostalgia trends, it would be priced a heckuva lot more had I sold it now). We had several other VWs – two beetles driven by my two brothers and a “show ready” dune buggy with a 1600 engine. I had great times in those VWs. I would even say the character of those cars, the Kombi in particular, helped define mine.


The Mission, if you choose to accept it…


When I was recently tasked by Motourismo to cover the media drive of the Volkswagen T-Cross, my thoughts quickly raced to my “old” VW days! But that was quickly dashed by apprehensions. Apprehensions that the VWs I knew were no longer the VWs being sold in showrooms today. Apprehensions that the ultra-mechanical, meat and potatoes, no-nonsense cars of my youth could now be replaced with these hyper-electronic, bells and whistled, automaton automobiles! Apprehensions that I could be disappointed with the VW of today and not be as pleased as how I remember VWs – being fun! Well, the intrepid adventure seeker that I am, I decided that I just would have to see for myself if those apprehensions would be dispelled by giving this a go!


T-Cross in Syringa Violet


First thing I asked, “what’s a VW T-Cross?” I know it’s a car, but what kind of car? By its name, I assumed that it is a “crossover” (a (compact) SUV crossing over from “sedan-hood”) as this genre of vehicle has been quite popular of late. Despite it being (soft) launched in the Philippines in 2021, I don’t remember having seen a T-Cross in the “wild.” With that, my curious thirst would soon be slaked as the media drive (my first!) soon approached.


Great Expectations


I woke up in the morning of 30 September feeling excited. I was to try out a new car and it would be via a “structured” event. Although us media reps (has a nice ring to it, no?) have already undergone an event briefing (via zoom) a week prior, I still was pretty psyched to see and feel how the modern VWs would be like. 


Now, don’t get me wrong. I have had exposure to “modern” vehicles. I am and have been the owner of contemporary vehicles of mostly Japanese lineage. But I have not been back to “Eurotown” since my foray with the old VWs as well as some other brands from that region that our family owned (my dad drove an MB 250CE and we also had a 70s-era Renault 16). While I know that most VWs are no longer manufactured in the “fatherland” and that the build is now most likely outsourced, still I tend to identify certain brands with their countries of origin.


Arriving at AC Motors Centrale in BGC


Back to the event (and the car!). I arrived at AC Motors Centrale in BGC at the appointed time of 6:00 am and immediately coordinated my parking (I rode my Vespa). Masked medical technicians subsequently met me and other media reps present to do a Covid-19 Antigen Swab test. Thereafter, we were instructed to join that day’s group to a sumptuous breakfast (the first among many meals!). We then were called to do the initial “walk around” of the T-Cross conducted by the VW sales team.


Power breakfast to start the action-packed day.


The T-Cross


First thing I noticed is how unique the colorways are on the T-Cross! I was told that it came in five variants, but I was only able to see four. Three (the “Syringa Violet,” the “Romance Red,” and “Tribu,” which was closer to a mustard yellow) took part in the media drive, and one I spotted playing the role as a camped overlander in the showroom in Chinchilla Gray. I missed out on spotting the Polar White variant. 


The "Chinchilla Gray" variant dressed as an over-lander.


As I got closer to the cars, the T-Cross’ paint finish was quite on the glossy side and seemingly premium. The other exterior elements were subtle and not garish. No protruding spoilers, lights, antennae, etc. It showed its enthusiasm to go outdoors with the incorporation of a roof rail. The rear looked pretty sporty too, with an accent of tinted, translucent plastic which appears to integrate the rear lights.


The walk-around.


As you open the car doors, the feel is solid and relatively heavier than its other small crossover counterparts in the market. This is perhaps owed to the “forged steel door hinges” and the “high strength panels” VW described during the briefing. Looking inside the car, the first-glance aesthetics were impressive. The main thing that catches your eye is the “composite material” cladding that wraps around the dash which is color-coordinated with the T-Cross’ body finish! A very nice touch. 


Body-color interior cladding. Tres chic!


Apart from that, the car comes standard with a full moonroof, power windows, state-of-the-art infotainment system, keyless ignition, and a slew of other features that a day of driving it could not possibly be fully appreciated. We were also informed by the VW sales team that the T-Cross shares a similar platform as that of the VW Polo (I’m sure that bit of trivia is useful/interesting to someone somewhere).


The VW executives and motoring media before take-off at the AC Motors Centrale in Bonifacio Global City.


On to the drive!


We then came to the most awaited part of the day – the actual drive! The format of the drive is to divide the media reps into groups and for each one to experience the T-Cross through a pre-determined route conjured up by the masterful road and track meister, Georges Ramirez. 


VW T-Cross are eye-candies.


As explained at our briefing, the route would take us from BGC, through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), on to the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), exiting to the Sta. Rosa, Laguna – Tagaytay, Cavite road and to our first destination, Kap’ean. The drive route’s objective is for us to experience varied driving conditions of city driving, expressway, shared-lane highway, country roads and winding pathways. 


Driving shotgun with Monch Henares of Monchster Chronicles and co-publisher of Motourismo.


My assigned partner is a familiar face – my friend, Monch Henares of Monchster Chronicles and co-publisher of Motourismo. Since Monch has driven the T-Cross in an earlier, albeit “unofficial,” drive event prior to this one, he relinquished most of the driving duties to yours truly. We were designated to T-Cross car number “1,” an “S” (base) variant donning the Syringa Violet color. We were to lead the convoy, trailing only the group’s spear vehicle driven by the route architect himself, Georges.


As I got in the car for the first time, I immediately took note of how VW optimized its budget to build a small SUV. The seats had a plush feel to it and was quite comfortable and intuitively adjustable to my preferred seating position (I am quite a finicky car rider as I have minor lumbar concerns that I deal with medically and ergonomically). 


Finding the ignition button was less instinctual as it was affixed to the mid portion of the cabin’s center console. I was used to it being located behind the right side of the steering wheel on most other cars with the similar feature. Side mirror adjustments were “all-powered” as well. Air-conditioning controls were dial type but looked luxurious being ensconced in chrome highlights. The gear shifter was similarly clad too.  With all the adjustments and observations out of the way, we were cued by Spear Georges on the UHF radios provided on each car to literally “start our engines.”


Strike a pose


Stepping on the gas for the first time had a familiar pang to it – my Toyota Rush GR Sport. This is not surprising as both have similar chassis and body sizes and have nearly identical engine displacements (~1500 cc). Anyone who’s ever driven either car would know what I mean by this comparison. I will just leave it at that. Hitting the highway and expressway was uneventful. That said, VW seemed to also put some focus on the T-Cross’ suspension and handling. The ride felt just like how the car looks - pretty spiffy.


Georges was a masterful convoy leader. He would get on the radio to bring awareness to significant points of the route and highlight information on any of the way’s peculiarities and to some features on the T-Cross itself. For instance, he remarked that our entry into CALAX would be ideal conditions to try out the car’s cruise control feature, which feature was remarkably simple to use and its controls handily situated within thumb’s reach on the left portion of the steering wheel.


Photo shoot ready


After a few well-led twists and turns, we arrived at Kap’ean! We were instructed to park the car at the venue in aesthetic “poses,” and scenic backdrops assured. Our designated area had a remarkable pond view complete with ducks! It was quite a remarkable sight but I don’t think my (phone) photography skills gave ample justice to how the “live” version played.


Our pottery-making experience was fun


We then proceeded to the event’s featured activity for the participants – stoneware pottery! This activity was received quite well by the media reps. They were fully immersed throughout the instruction phase and were in the thick of things when exploring their creative mettle once doing the craft themselves. The outcome was a variety of forms each with the individual artist’s touch on a common subject – to create a bowl! The activity made us realize that we all could be “More than 1 thing!” – the T-Cross’ battle cry.


Motoring media at Hillbarn


That fun activity done, we then proceeded to the next venue – Hillbarn. Our designated car’s driving duties were transferred to Monch. Once on the road, I decided to test the car’s audio system via its Bluetooth media player. We couldn’t test the “Wireless Apple Carplay” feature as neither Monch nor I owned an iPhone. I instead played from my Spotify playlist out of my android phone. The sound quality was adequate. Also, the media controls onscreen was pretty instinctive – nothing too complex. The drive lasted approximately five songs from my playlist (the last song being “Sweet Thing” by Rufus) as we pulled up to Hillbarn’s driveway.


Hillbarn is best known for the Dutch-type windmill on its fa├žade, aside from its food, that is. This gave a fresh setting for a T-Cross photo op. The cars certainly looked at home – Euro chic in a Euro rustic backdrop.


The group tucked away the splendid lunch served and thereafter prepared to head back to VW’s BGC headquarters. I resumed control of our T-Cross and the drive back was as smooth as our event ingress. 


Parting thoughts


The T-Cross is a formidable vehicle. Not only of its class, but across the spectrum of car varieties. Is it ultra-powerful and uber luxurious? Not quite, but it definitely serves its purpose – to get you where you need to go comfortably and without any fanfare – ok, with some fanfare! The car does have some add-ons that a lot of other crossovers in its class do not. The T-Cross is very competitively priced – The “S” variant at SRP 1,098,000 PHP and the “SE” variant at SRP 1,340,000 PHP (price was quoted as of the date of the event). 




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Toby Alberto is a career bank officer with The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, but his real job is driver and cook for Mesdames Catherine and Audrey at Chez Alberto. 



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