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Sign of T-Cross

Volkswagen Philippines is dotting the i’s and, well, you know, with its coming crossover

By Aries B. Espinosa

AFTER MONTHS of waiting for the formal public introduction of Volkswagen Philippines’ first global crossover, the announcement of a date finally came during an online discussion with the motoring media last April 21: The subcompact SUV T-Cross would be formally launched this May 26.

This early, however, Volkswagen Philippines encourages the motoring public to already make reservations in order to enjoy the introductory prices and a sizeable discount.

One can sense the eagerness of the folks at Volks to push the T-Cross as aggressively as they could in the local market. One reason is that the T-Cross has had a two-year head start elsewhere on the planet. The crossover debuted in 2018, and sales formally began the next year, as production went full swing in Volkswagen’s three manufacturing hubs in Brazil, Germany, and China. By 2020, the T-Cross made its initial appearance in Asia via India, which helped propel the vehicle to a landmark 300,000 units in sales across 55 countries. The world’s second most populous nation also became the T-Cross’ fourth manufacturing hub.

Another reason is that the T-Cross may yet be Volkswagen Philippines’ long-awaited gust of wind propelling it out of the sales doldrums where it has been stuck for the past couple of years — no thanks to the less-than-inspiring market performances of its China-sourced models and the ongoing pandemic. The T-Cross brings a heaping of good repute to the table, as it comes loaded with awards from international auto and media organizations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa.

Volkswagen Philippines says it’s leaving nothing to chance in its debut of the T-Cross, making sure that the vehicle takes off on the right gear in the local market. Its president Felipe Estrella III made this crystal clear during the discussions. “The T-Cross is a vehicle that will be ushering in the revival for the Volkswagen brand in the Philippines. We are excited because it is a subcompact SUV, and as we all know, the Philippines has gone quite SUV-happy. So, we expect to attract the attention of the Filipino automotive consumer,” he said.

To this end, the Ayala-backed distributor has not only brought in the T-Cross variants it perceives as perfect matches to local market preferences, but also sweetens the deal in SRPs and after-sales perks.

Two T-Cross variants will debut on May 26 — the 180 MPI AT S and the 180 MPI AT SE, both powered by a 1.5-liter engine with six-speed Tiptronic AT capable of generating maximum power output of 113ps and 145Nm of torque, which Volkswagen Philippines claims would result to optimum fuel efficiency while providing satisfying power for city or countryside driving.

The SE is endowed with additional or upgraded features, such as leather seats, LED headlights and taillights, 17-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, six air bags, autonomous emergency braking, and a 9.2-inch infotainment monitor with Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink.

Apart from its trendy exterior design and interior layout that reveal its intended target market of young, upwardly mobile or accomplished urban professionals, the T-Cross’ other come-on (or “come-in”?) is its generous space. Despite being classified as a five-seater subcompact SUV, the T-Cross’ long wheelbase of 2,651mm (the longest in its class) offers 329 liters of rear luggage space, or up to 1,319 liters with the rear seats folded.

That amount of breathing room has also been offered in the SUV’s after-sales services. The day’s deep dive into the T-Cross eventually fathomed the scope of after-sales perks, especially the cost of scheduled periodic maintenance services (PMS). Like the rest of Volkswagen’s stable of vehicles, the T-Cross would need only a once-a-year trip to the dealership for scheduled PMS. This, Volkswagen Philippines’ after-sales people stressed, would be around 40% more affordable compared to its segment competitors for a normal five-year duration of ownership.

When “Velocity” asked Volkswagen Philippines to translate that to actual cash savings, its after-sales estimated that a once-a-year PMS would “figure in the P12,000-to-P15,000 range.” This would be on top of the warranty coverage of three years, or 100,000 km (whichever comes first); spare parts warranty of two years, and; service quality consistent with Volkswagen standards across the world.

The online media discussion culminated with the price reveal of the T-Cross variants. The MPI S would be offered at P1.098 million, while the MPI SE would be pegged at P1.198 million. Like what was said at the start, these introductory prices, plus a P30,000 discount on both variants, would be good only for those who reserve their T-Cross units before the market introduction on May 26.

After that, buyers can only pray that this world-renowned and multi-awarded global SUV won’t go out of sight of the crosshairs of their budgets.