Volkswagen's press info says it all: "The T-Cross Breeze concept car offers a first look at a newly developed SUV model series. ... In future, the Tiguan and Touareg will be joined by three more SUV models." Furthermore, the company's head of design, Klaus Bischoff, says the concept "is a teaser for the most compact sport utility vehicle that Volkswagen plans to make." While the T-Roc concept from last year's Frankfurt Motor Show previews a crossover in the Golf size range, the T-Cross Breeze is even smaller – think Polo.
Power comes from a turbocharged, 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder engine, with 109 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission sends that power to the front wheels only, and Volkswagen estimates the 2,756-pound T-Cross Breeze can sprint to 62 miles per hour in 10.3 seconds, with a top speed of 117 mph. It's not quick, but it should be efficient. Volkswagen says the T-Cross should achieve around 47 miles per gallon, though we assume that's on the new European testing cycle.
Inside, Volkswagen's focus is on eliminating buttons and creating a user interface that relies on touch-sensitive surfaces and gesture controls. The concept uses a two-door, four-seat layout, but we assume a four-door, five-seat version will make the most sense when the final version arrives.
Could a convertible version of the T-Cross actually see production? Bischoff says the concept "reflects the new start for our brand," and calls it, "the nucleus of a new SUV and convertible design in the compact sector." All we know is: Don't get too hung up on the droptop aspect. This T-Cross Breeze has the building blocks of a neat little CUV for the entry-level end of the VW range.
The T-Cross Breeze is the first convertible SUV in the Polo class
The T-Cross Breeze concept car offers a first look at a newly developed SUV model series
In future, the Tiguan and Touareg will be joined by three more SUV models
Ten key facts
1. The striking, fresh design of the T-Cross Breeze offers the first exciting look at an entirely new Volkswagen SUV.
2. The T-Cross Breeze concept is an innovative SUV with the added appeal of a modern soft-top convertible.
3. In the T-Cross Breeze, SUV and convertible blend to become a cool, affordable compact car.
4. The T-Cross Breeze showcases extremely dynamic body proportions and crisp, short overhangs.
5. With the T-Cross Breeze, T-Roc, Tiguan, Tiguan XL, mid-size SUV and Touareg, the new and growing Volkswagen SUV range is taking shape.
6. Volkswagen aims to make its mark in every class with stylish and charismatic SUVs such as the exciting new T-Cross Breeze.
7. The four-seat T-Cross Breeze is equipped with an interactive cockpit and a next-generation ergonomic concept.
8. Touch-sensitive surfaces and newly developed "by-wire" solutions replace conventional switches and buttons.
9. A 300 W BeatsAudio™ sound system makes open-top cruising an acoustic pleasure, too.
10. The T-Cross Breeze is powered by a highly efficient 1.0 liter TSI turbocharged gasoline engine that makes 81 kW/110 PS.
Wolfsburg/Geneva, March 2016. The new T-Cross Breeze will take center stage on the Volkswagen stand at the 86th Geneva Motor Show. Dr Herbert Diess, the Chairman of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand says: "Our T-Cross Breeze is the first open-top SUV in its class and, at the same time, an affordable, cheeky cabriolet with a raised seating position that gives you a perfect view."
This concept underlines that Volkswagen is making mobility more of an experience than ever before. Herbert Diess: "At the moment the T-Cross Breeze is purely a concept, but we can well imagine putting such a convertible on the market as a production model. This is an affordable fun car that is also entirely suitable for everyday use—it's a genuine 'People's Car'."
The concept car, which is equipped with an 81 kW/110 PS 1.0 liter TSI turbocharged and direct-injection gasoline engine) gives a glimpse at a new model series. Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the Volkswagen Brand, explains: "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."
"The T-Cross Breeze reflects the new start for our brand", adds Bischoff. "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."
Volkswagen's SUV expansion
In future, Volkswagen aims to offer an exciting SUV in every relevant segment. It will start this ambitious product onslaught with the market launch of the new Tiguan, which begins at the end of April in Germany and in early May in the rest of Europe. On the major overseas markets the new Tiguan will also be available with an extended wheelbase. This will be followed by a new mid-size SUV for the US and China as well as the well-known premium segment Touareg sport utility vehicle. Below the Tiguan, two new SUV models will make their debut: in the Golf class there will be an SUV that is similar to the T-Roc concept car, while the T-Cross Breeze moves into the Polo size range.
The T-Cross Breeze uses a highly efficient 1.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI gasoline engine (TSI) that has a stop-start system and recuperation mode. The 81 kW/110 PS engine also makes 175 Nm (129 lb-ft) of torque from just 1,500 rpm. The TSI engine drives the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Thus equipped, the 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) SUV convertible sprints from 0 to 62 mph in just 10.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 117 mph. Fuel consumption and CO2 values are also excellent: 5.0 l/100 km (47 mpg) and 115 g/km. In combination with the 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the concept car has a theoretical range of 497 miles – easily enough to drive from Geneva to Cannes or Venice on a single tank of fuel.
Powerful design with attitude
At a length of 4,133 mm (162.7 in), the T-Cross Breeze is slightly longer than a CrossPolo. It boasts a long wheelbase of 2,565 mm (101.0 in), resulting in short body overhangs, thereby guaranteeing sporty proportions. Excluding the door mirrors, the concept car is 1,798 mm (70.8 in) wide – significantly up on existing cars in the Polo class – while the passengers in the T-Cross Breeze also sit considerably higher up. The vehicle is exactly 1,563 mm (61.5 in) high when the soft top is closed.
Design: the first look at a completely new SUV series
The brand's unmistakable design DNA ensures that each model can immediately be recognised as a Volkswagen, even when you can't see the VW logo. The design of the new T-Cross Breeze also underlines the fact that each series and vehicle genre is perceived as completely independent within the brand. The new Tiguan, set to launch this spring, is the first production model to sport the new, authentic, SUV design. The T-Cross Breeze concept will follow this charismatic style, while at the same time clearly demonstrating the fact that it is an independent SUV series.
Take the front end, for example: here the T-Cross Breeze is characterized by a remarkably wide radiator grille and narrow headlights. These details form the new, characteristic face of this most compact SUV. The distinctive LED daytime running light signature, combined with delicate arcs of light under the LED headlights and large LED rings around the foglights, underline the independent design of this small SUV.
The side profile is also very distinctive. A striking example of the independence of each of the new SUV series is the double character line. Its bottom edge does not, in this case – and in contrast to the Tiguan, for instance – run straight around the car, but instead rises over the rear wheel. Another feature that characterises the side profile is, of course, the wheels. The 19-inch aluminium-alloy wheels feature a spiral design that is individualized around the hub by colorful, star-shaped plastic clasps. The rear end of the convertible SUV, meanwhile, is dominated by the extremely wide trunklid with integrated LED taillights. The lid opens up to reveal a trunk that is very easy to load, with a volume of nearly 10.6 cubic feet.
The T-Cross Breeze is painted a warm shade of green called "Summer Green Metallic", with the wheelarch extensions, radiator grille and the lower sections of the side panels and the bumpers finished in a cool, contrasting dark plastic ("Deep Teal"). All of the visible aluminum parts of the body – such as the windshield frame, the underbody protection at the front and rear and the lower side sills – have a sandblasted finish. The soft top comes in black.
Volkswagen's interiors are currently making quantum leaps. The designers concentrated on what really matters: creating a new spatial experience and completely redesigning the driver's cockpit, making use of next-generation human-machine interface (HMI) and developing an entirely new control interface that, one day, will completely do away with buttons and switches. This is an early glimpse at where production models are heading in the medium-term.
Volkswagen has implemented an ergonomic concept with almost no buttons on board the T-Cross Breeze. The convertible SUV builds the conceptual bridge to the BUDD-e, which debuted at CES in Las Vegas in January. With the exception of the control stalk, the power window switches and the buttons for opening and closing the soft top, all of the controls in the T-Cross Breeze are touch-sensitive surfaces or executed as completely new "by-wire" solutions.
Gesture control also forms an integral part of the operating interface. The new HMI, with its coupled displays, is detached from the dashboard in a style similar to that of the zero-emissions BUDD-e – this is the cockpit of the future. Last, but not least, it is apparent that elements that were formerly purely functional, such as the air vents, now merge with the contours of the interior.
The design language and color of the interior forges a link to the expressive exterior. The dashpad and the outer areas of the center console radiate in a fresh "Summer Green Soft" special-effect paint. In contrast to this are the dark surfaces in the interior; the trim is also "Deep Teal", like the exterior. Elements such as the armrests and door handles, the rear section of the stylish free-floating center console and the seat backs, meanwhile, are finished in a light "Ceramique" color. The precision of all the edges is emphasized by the combination of sandblasted and high-gloss surfaces.
The materials break new ground, too: just like high-tech sports shoes, parts of the seating are form fashioned, colored (in "Deep Teal") and "knit" in 3D, creating the covers of the inner side support seating surfaces in a single piece, using materials such as special polyamide hybrid fibres that are extremely durable and resistant to deformation.
The interactive HMI offers a glimpse at what the next generation of Volkswagen vehicles will look like. With the T-Cross-Breeze, Volkswagen has transferred the visionary system showcased in the BUDD-e to the compact class. This consists of two physically separate screens that blend optically and functionally into one large surface: the Active Info Display as a freely programmable instrument panel in front of the driver, and the Head Unit, which serves as the screen of the infotainment system on the center console. These two screens form a single functional entity.
Active Info Display. Digitalization of the instruments is opening up a whole new spectrum of graphic and interactive possibilities. Volkswagen calls this new generation of digital instrumentation the Active Info Display. The graphic environment in the T-Cross Breeze displays the driving information on a completely new, three-dimensional, animated display. These modern, stylish graphic panels can be freely programed by the developers and make a deliberate break with classic round instruments.
Drivers can re-configure available information themselves within defined areas, a bit like arranging apps on a smartphone. Depending on the configuration, the display elements change shape, move, shrink or are enlarged. This virtual stage is underlaid with a background consisting of a honeycomb structure, which forms the stylistic common thread running through the entire T-Cross Breeze, as similar elements are also found on the dashboard as well as around the radiator grille, for instance. The robust honeycomb structure was a deliberate choice, as it fits in perfectly with the character of an all-terrain vehicle.
The T-Cross Breeze features a predictive driving profile selector, which is closely linked to the navigation system, the frontal camera and various other systems, enabling it to register parameters such as the topography of the route, for example. When the predictive driving profile selector's Auto function is on, the system reacts automatically and can change the engine, damping or steering characteristics, depending on the driving situation.
The Active Info Display also has – as an additional off-road feature – an individual graphical element that is directly linked to the predictive driving profile selector. Using the wide range of sensors on board and by evaluation of geographical data, the car is able to recognize the surface it is driving across when the driving profile selector is in Auto mode. If this happens, the HMI that is linked to the predictive driving profile selector activates a new off-road mode, so that the system messages "TERRAIN IDENTIFIED" and "OFFROAD MODE ACTIVATED" on the driver's screen.
Simultaneously, all of the interactive displays indicate to the driver where and where not this front-wheel drive vehicle can safely move. The "normal" driving information is then moved to the edges of the screen and shrinks to make way and put the emphasis on the off-road content. A topographic map of the immediate vicinity appears in the center of the screen and a stylized depiction of the chassis (tires and shock absorbers) is also displayed. The honeycomb background pattern is transformed into little columns with a hexagonal cross-section, depending on the altitude of the terrain scanned ahead of and beside the T-Cross Breeze to represent the local topography. Areas that should be avoided are highlighted separately.
The infotainment system's central screen (or Head Unit) is freely configurable, with tiles that can be freely rearranged on a predefined grid. Here again, the graphics feature the robust honeycomb structure as a common thread. It is possible, for example, to depict the whole route topographically. You can, for instance, display information about the altitude along the route, or the honeycomb pattern can form a dynamic equalizer. Meanwhile, an inbox displays the last three SMS messages along with a picture of the sender.
The other tiles include features such as current weather data and a cover flow for the media library. All of these tiles can, as outlined above, be arranged by the driver or the front seat passenger. Operation of the air-conditioning system is also intuitive: proximity sensors are used to open the required window on the touchscreen, which provides the familiar air-conditioning functions as well as controls for the heated seats.
Newly developed features also include a "by wire" gear shifter in the center console. This compact shifter unit is used to operate the DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the electronic parking brake and the DCC adaptive damping (with "Sport", "Normal" and "Comfort" settings). Three elegantly designed glass scroll wheels that are set in chrome are fitted with sensors that enable intuitive operation of these functions. The controls around the glass scroll wheels for the hazard warning lights, the Auto-Hold function, starting and stopping the engine (Keyless Access) and the driving profile switch (Mode) feature touch-sensitive surfaces.
BeatsAudio™ sound system. American audio specialist Beats Electronics – founded in 2008 by the rapper Dr. Dre – has made a huge impact on the music scene, primarily with its headphones. Now the Californian company also offers a wide range of audio technologies, including full in-car sound systems. The T-Cross Breeze features such a BeatsAudio™ sound system.
The heart of this system is a subwoofer that is integrated in the center console, between the driver and the front seat passenger. The sound system's 300 Watt, 8-channel amplifier has a digital sound processor (DSP). High-end loudspeakers distributed around the interior deliver crystal-clear sound from the system and a special pattern visually emphasizes the BeatsAudio™ system.
The sound system is compatible with the App-Connect suite of connectivity services, meaning that CarPlay™ (Apple), Android Auto™ (Google) or MirrorLink™ can be used to control the playlists of virtually all current smartphones via the T-Cross Breeze's HMI. Here again, this previews production models of the near future. In parallel to the T-Cross Breeze, the Geneva Motor Show will also see the debut of the comprehensively overhauled up!, featuring a technically similar sound system to the BeatsAudio™ technology shown in the T-Cross Breeze.