Volkswagen T-Roc review
The T-Roc Golf-based SUV is fun to drive, great to look at and family friendly – but cabin quality is most un-VW-like
The T-Roc ushers in a new level of design emotion for the brand, with a cute, compact shape and lots of personalisation options. Best of all, it’s great to drive with spirited engines and a chassis that blends control and fun with a fair degree of comfort.
Inside there’s more space for passengers and luggage than in a Golf (thanks to the increased height), plus plenty of hi-tech connectivity, autonomous driving and safety kit available.
However, somewhat surprisingly for a VW, the quality of the plastics in the cabin are poor – more in keeping with a budget brand than a Volkswagen. That’s especially so given the list prices, which are close to premium.
In terms of dimensions and price, the Volkswagen T-Roc is essentially an off-road version of the top-selling VW Golf. It's been on sale since 2017, and while it has a small price premium over the Golf, it has been popular with buyers, mainly thanks to an interior that's roomier than its hatchback sibling. Like the Golf, the range is comprehensive, starting at S trim and now moving all the way up to the rapid T-Roc R with four-wheel drive and nearly 300bhp.
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For those that wish to combine SUV looks with top-down style, there's also the T-Roc Cabriolet to consider. It's not particularly cheap, but it does have the convertible SUV market all to itself.
As the T-Roc is based on the Golf, it slots into the VW crossover range between the larger Tiguan and recently introduced T-Cross. Prices start from around £20,000 and climb to almost £40,000 for the hot R version.
The T-Roc has a variety of rivals, including the Audi Q2 (which shares running gear with the T-Roc), Mazda CX-3, MINI Countryman, Mercedes GLA and lower spec versions of the Volvo XC40. There's also the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V to consider, and also the BMW X1 and X2 and Lexus UX.
Where the T-Roc breaks away from the Golf is with its funky looking interior. Rather than use the Golf's cabin wholesale, VW has added splashes of colour inside, including dash panels that are colour coded to the exterior. However, there is also more use of hard plastics inside, which might be a bit of a disappointment if you're moving from a Golf to a T-Roc.
There are a variety of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines offered. For petrol power, you can choose the 1.0 TSI 115PS turbo, which is surprisingly capable in the T-Roc, VW's latest 1.5 TSI Evo 150PS with cylinder deactivation, the 2.0 TSI 190PS petrol and the range-topping 2.0 TSI 300PS. All petrol engines come with a six-speed manual except the 2.0 TSI, which has a seven-speed DSG auto - this is available as an option with the 1.5 TSI Evo engine. 4MOTION four-wheel drive is also standard with the 2.0 TSI.
Diesel power is handled by either VW's 1.6 TDI 115PS or 2.0 TDI 150PS units. The former is only available with a six-speed manual box, while the latter has the option of a seven-speed DSG auto transmission.
The T-Roc range kicks off from around £20,000 for a base S model, while £1,800 extra gets you into an SE version. Black Edition models are an extra £400 on top of that, with Design trim just a few hundred pounds more. SE L versions are pretty plush and carry a premium of almost £3,000 over Design-spec cars, while at the top of the range the R-Line versions get a sporty bodykit and big wheels, as well as £2,000 added to the list price. That means a top-spec T-Roc R-Line in 2.0 TSI 4MOTION trim is knocking on the door of £36k, while the T-Roc R is closer to £40k.
The Cabriolet model is offered with two trim levels - Design and R-Line, while power comes from either the 1.0- or 1.5-litre TSI petrol units.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe T-Roc Golf-based SUV is fun to drive, great to look at and family friendly – but cabin quality is most un-VW-like
- 2Engines, performance and driveEngine choice is broad, while the T-Roc provides a spirited drive without being uncomfortable. It’s an ideal, fun, urban runaround
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLatest VW engines are strong all-rounders offering refinement, performance and decent running costs
- 4Interior, design and technologyStylish inside and out with plenty of hi-tech options, but there are some cheap plastics considering the price
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt's Golf-sized on the outside, but the T-Roc offers more space inside. It’s comfortable, too, in spite of the sporty drive
- 6Reliability and SafetyStrong safety is one of the big benefits of using the VW group’s MQB platform – there’s plenty of safety tech and even more on the options list