Volkswagen T-Roc review
The T-Roc is a Golf-based SUV that's practical and fun to drive. Mid-life updates have improved cabin quality, but it can be a little expensive to buy
The Volkswagen T-Roc was a relative latecomer to the compact SUV segment, but the Golf-sized SUV is a strong contender in this hotly contested class, as well as being a sales hit for VW. The T-Roc ushered 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. Our previous bugbear with the T-Roc's interior quality has been somewhat addressed with a mid-life facelift for 2022, although it was much needed given the list prices, which are close to premium.
About the Volkswagen T-Roc
The Volkswagen T-Roc arrived in 2017 as an SUV-style spin-off from the best-selling VW Golf. Like many crossover-type vehicles the T-Roc is blessed with off-road style chunky design cues, but the reality is that it’s configured to be easy to drive on tarmac, to be practical and (reasonably) affordable, and not to look like a boring old family hatchback.
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Like its plentiful rivals, the T-Roc is designed to tap into the booming market for stylish yet family-friendly SUVs, while also bringing a younger audience to the VW brand. The sort of owners who might be put off by VW’s typical design conservatism, or the grown-up and sensible image the Golf projects.
Yet behind the racier image, the T-Roc shares all its technology and engineering with its hatchback sibling, and is all the better for it. You pay a little more for being fashionable, but the advantages don’t stop there as the T-Roc is actually a little roomier than the Golf hatch due to its taller body dimensions.
The T-Roc comes with a similarly broad range of engine options to the Golf; there are entry-level 1.0-litre TSI Life versions on one hand, and the high-performance T-Roc R on the other - the latter boasting almost 300bhp and 4MOTION all-wheel drive for impressive grip. In 2020 the range was even extended to include the T-Roc Cabriolet which, as the only drop-top SUV of its type around, will surely be a ‘must have’ for people inspired by such things.
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 – alongside the Taigo coupe-SUV which joined the range in 2021. Prices start from around £28,000 and climb to almost £45,000 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), 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. We weren't impressed by the use of harder plastics in the pre-facelift model, although the updated T-Roc has an improved cabin with softer materials in use and a lift in overall perceived quality.
There are a variety of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines offered. For petrol power, you can choose the 109bhp 1.0 TSI turbo, which is surprisingly capable in the T-Roc, VW's 148bhp 1.5 TSI Evo unit with cylinder deactivation, the 187bhp 2.0 TSI petrol and the range-topping 296bhp 2.0 TSI. 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 113bhp or 148bhp variants of VW’s familiar 2.0 TDI. The former is only available with a six-speed manual box, while the latter has the option of a seven-speed DSG auto transmission and all-wheel-drive.
Volkswagen offers a range of trim levels for the T-Roc, comprising of entry-level Life, Style, sporty R-Line and the top-of-the-range R model.
For an alternative review of the Volkswagen T-Roc, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe T-Roc is a Golf-based SUV that's practical and fun to drive. Mid-life updates have improved cabin quality, but it can be a little expensive to buy
- 2Engines, performance and driveEngine choice is broad, while the T-Roc provides a spirited drive without being uncomfortable. It’s an ideal urban runaround
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLatest VW petrol and diesel engines are strong all-rounders offering refinement, performance and decent real-world economy
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe T-Roc is stylish inside and out with plenty of hi-tech options, while interior quality is good
- 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 active tech and even more on the options list