New Volkswagen T-Roc R 2022 review

Revised hot T-Roc remains as fast as ever, but it's pricey

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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As before, the T-Roc R is a very effective point-to-point performance car, offering up great straight line speed and strong grip. It’s not the most thrilling car to drive though, and the Golf R offers more performance and excitement, while making more financial sense. Add options to this model, and you’re getting close to Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 territory; a car which feels like it gives you more for the money.

Volkswagen has refreshed one of its hottest models for 2022. This is the T-Roc R, which like the rest of the brand’s T-Roc lineup, including the standard model and a Cabriolet, has been treated to a range of upgrades. 

The revisions start on the outside, with the most distinctive change coming to the R’s face. A redesigned grille now has a full-width daytime running light through its centre, blending neatly at each end into tweaked LED headlights. The same purposeful-looking front and rear bumpers - the latter still housing the four fat tailpipes that are a signature of R models - remain, with a subtle change at the rear made to the badging. Here, the T-Roc designation has been dropped altogether, and the new, larger R badge sits just beneath the VW logo.

The redesigned cabin has its good and bad points. The sports seats are trimmed in a part leather upholstery with tartan centres subtly highlighted with blue trimmings - though a full leather option is also available if you’d prefer something slightly more understated. Extra blue highlights can be found on the new steering wheel design, while like the rest of the T-Roc range, the dashboard has been rearranged to accommodate a new, larger infotainment system. Some new kit, like keyless entry, comes as standard now, too.

While material qualities are now closer to the standard you’d expect from a top-spec performance crossover, the new touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel and climate panel are irritating to use.

Cabin space is fairly reasonable front and back, though the four-wheel drive system takes up a little boot space, so you get 392 litres out back instead of the 445 litres you get in lesser T-Roc models. It’s still a decent size, though. 

The tweaks, however, end at the cosmetic. While the mechanically similar Golf R received a power boost in its latest iteration, the T-Roc keeps the same 296bhp it had before - that means it’s now 20bhp down on the Golf. At 400Nm, torque is 20Nm down on the Golf, too.

Still, it’s not exactly slow - despite losing out slightly to its stablemate. The sprint from 0-62mph is shrugged off in 4.9 seconds, and it’ll keep going until it butts into a speed limiter at 155mph. The seven-speed DSG gearbox is snappy for the most part, but there’s quite a lot of clutch slip at lower speeds, which means it never feels as lively as you’d hope. 

There’s one key chassis upgrade that we can't recommend enough. The optional adaptive dampers really add a level of sophistication to the T-Roc R’s ride and handling repertoire; place it in comfort mode, and there’s a level of compliance that makes it the more forgiving than any other T-Roc on a rough road, but does so while keeping a level, stable platform through the corners that can exploit the strong grip and phenomenal traction. The slightly dull steering and a dearth of adjustability in the chassis means it isn’t particularly fun though; you can cover ground at a fantastic rate, but you won’t really feel like the car is doing all the work for you.

There is one much larger issue with the T-Roc R, however, and that's the price. £41,750 sounds like an awful lot of money for any T-Roc - even one with this much performance. For £440 more, you can get the Golf R, which has more power and is even sharper to drive. It’s better for the sensible reasons, too; the Golf is more frugal - it returns a WLTP certified 36.7mpg to the T-Roc’s 33.2mpg, but it also holds its value better; maintaining 51.9 per cent of its original price after three years to the T-Roc’s 47.6 per cent translates to a two grand difference in value when you come to sell.

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And those figures are set before you reach the options list, too. Get a bit enthusiastic with the extras, and the price can soon climb; the car in these images tops out at £51,320. 

The problem is, there’s a couple of those trinkets that we’d recommend to get the T-Roc at its best. You could probably do without the Matrix LED headlights and the panoramic sunroof (nice though they both are, they add £1,650 and £1,150) but those adaptive dampers, which add so much sophistication to the drive, cost £1,065. The striking 19-inch ‘Estoril’ wheels cost £765 and we’d really expect a reversing camera to be standard on a car this fancy, but it’s a £275 extra. The Akrapovic sports exhaust is the biggest expense, though. Without it, the EA888 engine sounds a bit flat, but this system adds a whopping £3,545.

Those prices push the T-Roc R dangerously into Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 territory. For £47,995, the GLA has similar performance, more space inside, and has much better interior tech - not to mention the lure of that Mercedes badge on the nose. If you’re willing to forego four-wheel drive and 20bhp, then the Hyundai Kona N - which is more exciting to drive and better equipped - costs almost £6,000 less.

Model: Volkswagen T-Roc R
Price: £41,750
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol turbo
Power/torque: 296bhp/400Nm

seven-speed auto, four-wheel drive

0-62mph 4.9 seconds
Economy/CO2: 33.2mpg/194g/km
On sale: Now

Now read our review of the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet...

Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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