Volkswagen unveils T-Cross Breeze open-top SUV concept at Geneva Motor Show

Article by Christian A., on March 2, 2016

Volkswagen has unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show the T-Cross Breeze concept, the first compact SUV with an open top. The T-Cross Breeze features dimensions of 4,133 mm (162.7 inches) in length, 1,798 mm (70.8 inches) in width excluding door mirrors, and 1,563 mm (61.5 inches) in height when the soft top is closed.

It also has a long wheelbase of 2,565 mm (101.0 inches) with short body overhangs. Comparatively, the T-Cross Breeze is slightly longer than a CrossPolo and is wider than existing cars in the Polo class. Moreover, passengers in the T-Cross Breeze also sit higher up.

Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the Volkswagen Brand, remarked that the T-Cross Breeze serves a preview for the most compact SUV that the carmaker is planning to build. He added that the T-Cross Breeze will serve as the “nucleus” of a new SUV and convertible design in the compact sector.

Herbert Diess, the Chairman of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand, quipped that the T-Cross Breeze is both the first open-top compact SUV and an affordable cabriolet with a raised seating position.

Diess noted that for now, the T-Cross Breeze is purely a concept, but there is a possibility that VW would launch it as a production model. He also described the T-Cross Breeze as ‘People’s Car’ that is affordable and suitable for everyday use.

Exterior Design

Of course, the new T-Cross Breeze comes with a design that makes it easily recognizable as a Volkswagen, even when the VW logo is not visible. The German carmaker has made sure that each series and vehicle genre is identified independently, but within the brand.

For instance, the soon-to-be-launched new VW Tiguan will be the first production model to sport the new authentic SUV design. It is expected that the T-Cross Breeze concept would follow the design, but there will be indications that it is an independent SUV series.

Moreover, the front end of the T-Cross Breeze features a wide radiator grille and narrow LED headlights, as well as LED daytime running light. Under these headlights are subtle arcs of light while large LED rings surrounds the fog lights -- all highlighting the independent design of T-Cross Breeze.

This continues on the side of the compact SUV. While the bottom edge of the Tiguan flows straight across its body, this part rises over the rear wheel on the T-Cross Breeze. Moreover, the new VW T-Cross Breeze is fitted with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a spiral design customized by colorful, star-shaped plastic clasps.

T-Cross Breeze’s design independence is also apparent on the rear, which is marked by a very wide trunk lid with integrated LED taillights. This lid opens up to a trunk that could accommodate up to 10.6 cubic feet of cargo volume.

On the other hand, the Volkswagen T-Cross Breeze concept is wrapped with a warm shade of green dubbed “Summer Green Metallic.” Other exterior elements – like the radiator grille, wheel arch extensions and the lower sections of the side panels and the bumpers – are finished in a contrasting dark plastic in “Deep Teal” color.

Meanwhile, all visible aluminum sections of the body like -- the windshield frame, the lower side sills and the underbody protection at the front and rear -- feature a sand-blasted finish. The VW T-Cross Breeze comes with a black soft top.

Interior Design

This design language and color theme is also continued inside of the new small SUV from VW. For instance, the dashpad and the outer areas of the center console are finished in “Summer Green Soft” special-effect paint, as contrasted by dark surfaces and a trim in “Deep Teal.”

On the other hand, the armrests and door handles, the rear section of the center console and the seat backs are finished in a light “Ceramique” color while all edges feature sand-blasted and high-gloss surfaces.

Fascinatingly, the new T-Cross Breeze features seats with parts that are form fashioned, colored in “Deep Teal” and “knit” in 3D using highly durable and deformation-resistant materials like special polyamide hybrid fibers.

The small SUV concept features an entirely redesigned driver’s cockpit that comes with the next-generation human-machine interface (HMI) and a completely new control interface that minimizes the need for buttons and switches. In fact, the T-Cross Breeze features a new ergonomic concept that has almost no buttons.

The only control buttons remaining are the control stalk, the power window switches and the buttons for opening and closing the soft top. The rest of the controls inside the T-Cross Breeze are now either touch-sensitive surfaces or new “by-wire” solutions.

Interestingly, the new T-Cross Breeze also allows drivers to operate certain functions using gesture control. Likewise, the new HMI – featuring two displays -- is now detached from the dashboard, just like that on the BUDD-e.

This interactive HMI on the T-Cross Breeze provides a preview of the next generation of Volkswagen vehicles. Basically, the new VW T-Cross Breeze represents the conceptual link to the BUDD-e that was unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

In particular, the T-Cross-Breeze realized the BUDD-e’s visionary system, which is made up of two physically separate screens forming a single functional entity. These screens -- the Active Info Display and the Head Unit – blend visually into one large surface.

One of the screens, the Active Info Display, is a customizable instrument panel located just in front of the driver. Meanwhile, the Head Unit serves as the screen of the infotainment system on the center console. Moreover, a number of elements deemed purely functional before -- like the air vents – are now merged with the contours of the SUV’s interior.


Serving as the core of the T-Cross Breeze is a 1.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI gasoline engine that provides up to 81 kW (110 PS) of output and 175 Nm (129 lb-ft) of torque available from 1,500 rpm.

Power from this TSI engine – which also features a stop-start system and recuperation mode – is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. This amount of power is enough to make the T-Cross Breeze accelerate from zero to 62 mph in just 10.3 seconds and achieve a top speed of 117 mph.

With a fuel consumption rate of just 5.0 l/100 km (47 mpg) and a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the T-Cross Breeze could travel up to 497 miles on a single tank of fuel. The carbon dioxide emissions rate is pegged at 115 g/km.

Press Release


The new T-Cross Breeze will take centre stage on the Volkswagen stand at the 86th Geneva Motor Show. “This open-top Volkswagen enhances the world of compact cars with a completely new attitude to automotive life”, says Dr Herbert Diess. With this, the Chairman of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand gets to the core of the bold theory behind this concept car, which celebrates its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. The Volkswagen Brand Chairman continues: “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.” With this concept, Volkswagen underlines the fact that the brand is blazing a trail and 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. An affordable fun car that is also entirely suitable for everyday use. A genuine ‘People’s Car’.” And so the concept car, which is equipped with an 81 kW/110 PS 1.0 litre TSI (turbocharged direct injection petrol engine), gives a glimpse of 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.”

New Volkswagen. “The T-Cross Breeze reflects the new start of our brand”, says Klaus 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. 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”, the Head of Design explains. This is why the world premiere of the new T-Cross Breeze at the Geneva International Motor Show (1 - 13 March 2016) heralds a radical reorientation for the design of compact Volkswagen cars.

Product offensive – SUVs in all relevant classes

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. In the higher classes this will be followed by a new mid-size SUV (for the USA and China) as well as the well-known premium segment Touareg sport utility vehicle. Below the Tiguan, two new SUV model series will make their debut: in the Golf class there will be an SUV in the same style as the T-Roc concept car, while the T-Cross Breeze presented in Geneva shows where the journey into the future is heading in the Polo class.

Efficient drive – a TSI with 110 PS

The T-Cross Breeze comes with a turbocharged petrol engine. The T-Cross Breeze presented on the shores of Lac Léman aims to offer affordable open-air driving pleasure. The first step into the world of sustainable drives is made here by a highly efficient turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) with a capacity of one litre, a stop-start system and recuperation mode. The 81 kW/110 PS 1.0 l TSI is a convincing powerhouse, producing 175 Nm of maximum torque from just 1,500 rpm. The TSI drives the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox. Thus equipped, the SUV convertible, weighing just 1,250 kg, needs a mere 10.3 seconds to reach 100 km/h and reaches a top speed of 188 km/h. Fuel consumption and CO2 values are similarly compelling at 5.0 l/100 km and 115 g/km). In combination with the 40 litre fuel tank, the concept car has a theoretical range of 800 km – easily enough to drive from Geneva to Cannes or Venice on a single tank of fuel.

Dimensions – a new dimension in the compact segment

Powerful design with attitude. At a length of 4,133 mm, the T-Cross Breeze is slightly longer than a CrossPolo. It boasts a long wheelbase of 2,565 mm, resulting in short body overhangs, thereby guaranteeing sporty proportions. Excluding the door mirrors, the concept car is 1,798 mm wide – significantly up on existing cars in the Polo class – while the passengers in the T-Cross Breeze also sit considerably higher up. The total height of the new Volkswagen is exactly 1,563 mm when the soft top is closed.

Design – a first look at a completely new SUV series

Exterior – contemporary SUV design.The brand’s unmistakable design DNA ensures that each model can immediately be recognised as a Volkswagen, even without the VW logo visible. 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.

Striking design specifications. Of course there is a certain familial relationship between the SUV series, but the clearly unique features are just as distinctive. Take the front end, for example: here the T-Cross Breeze is characterised by a remarkably wide radiator grille and narrow headlights. These details form the new, characteristic face of this most compact SUV. The distinctive signature of the LED daytime running lights with delicate arcs of light under the LED headlights, as well as large LED rings around the fog lights, 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, resulting in an entirely new side of the car. Another feature that characterises the side profile is, of course, the wheels. The 19-inch aluminium wheels feature a spiral design that is individualised in the area of the wheel hub by colourful, star-shaped plastic clasps. The rear end of the convertible SUV, meanwhile, is dominated by the extremely wide boot lid with integrated LED rear lights. The lid opens up to reveal a boot that is very easy to load, with a volume of nearly 300 litres.

Show your true colours. The T-Cross Breeze is painted a warm shade of green called “Summer Green Metallic”, with attachments such as the wheel arch extensions, the radiator grille and the lower sections of the side panels and the bumpers in a cool, flawlessly harmonised contrasting dark petrol (“Deep Teal”). The plastic clasps and the star wheel hubs are also painted in “Deep Teal”. All of the visible aluminium parts of the body – such as the application on the windscreen frame and the all-terrain elements like the underbody protection at the front and rear as well as the side sills – are sandblasted. The soft top comes in black.
Interior – fascinating quantum leaps

The future can do without switches.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. Yet this is no science fiction, but, rather, an early glimpse at where production models are heading in the medium-term. Volkswagen has already implemented an operating concept with almost no buttons on board the T-Cross Breeze. The convertible SUV builds the conceptual bridge to the BUDD-e, which is also being presented in Geneva and saw its debut at the 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-emission 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.

High-tech design and materials. The design language and colour of the interior forges a link to the expressive exterior. The dashpad and the outer areas of the centre 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. Both of these colours repeat on the applications on the steering wheel. Elements such as the arm rests and door handles, the rear section of the stylish free-floating centre console and the seat backs, meanwhile, are a light “Ceramique”. The precision of all the edges is emphasised by the combination of sandblasted and high-gloss surfaces. Volkswagen is also breaking new ground in the automotive sector with the materials used: just like high-tech sports shoes, parts of the seating are form fashioned and coloured (in “Deep Teal”) and “knit” in 3D, creating the covers of the inner surfaces of the side supports in a single piece out of various materials such as special polyamide hybrid fibres that are extremely resistant to deformation, durable and resistant to abrasion. This method can be used for any shape. In the case of the T-Cross Breeze, for instance, it was also used to make the front seat back pockets.

Human-Machine Interface. 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 centre console. These two screens form a single functional entity.

Active Info Display. The 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. Volkswagen demonstrates how the Active Info Display, which is already used in the Passat as well as in the new Tiguan, could develop on board the T-Cross Breeze.

On-road. The graphic environment there displays the driving information on a completely new, three-dimensional, animated display. These forward-looking, stylish graphics panels that can be freely programmed by the developers, make a deliberate break with the classic round instruments. They form an entirely new virtual stage for the information, which drivers can configure 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 on the outside of the car in the area of 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.
Predictive driving profile selection. The T-Cross Breeze features a predictive driving profile selector. This assistance function is closely linked to the navigation system, the front camera and various other systems in the Volkswagen, which enable 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.

Easy terrain. The Active Info Display also has – as an additional off-road feature – an individual graphical stage 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 recognise that it no longer has a tarmac road under its wheels any more, but is now driving on off-road terrain 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” are displayed on the driver’s screen. Simultaneously, all of the interactive displays indicate to the driver where the front-wheel drive car can drive safely on such easy terrain, and where not. The “normal” driving information is then moved to the edges and shrinks to make way and put the emphasis on the off-road content, which is now more relevant in the current situation. A topographic map of the immediate vicinity appears in the centre of the screen and a stylised depiction of the chassis (tyres 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. Beside the Active Info Display there is also a 3D honeycomb structure that consists of back-lit perspex columns – making the virtual and real vehicle architecture merge into one entity.

Head Unit. The infotainment system’s central screen (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 on 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. The configuration and operation are self-explanatory. 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.

New by-wire controls. The newly developed features also include a “by wire” gear change unit in the centre console. This compact gear change unit is used to operate the DSG dual-clutch gearbox, the electronic parking brake and the adaptive chassis control (DCC/in the “Sport”, “Normal” and “Comfort” settings). Three elegantly designed glass scroll wheels set in chrome fitted with sensors 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) are touch-sensitive surfaces.

BeatsAudio™ sound system. The American audio specialist Beats Electronics – founded in 2008 by the rapper Dr. Dre – 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 bass heart of this system is a subwoofer that is integrated in the centre console, between the driver and the front seat passenger. The sound system’s 300 W, 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 perforation visually emphasises the BeatsAudio™ system. Of course the sound system is compatible with App-Connect, 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 as, 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.

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