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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen T-Roc review - Engines, performance and drive

Engine choice is broad, while the T-Roc provides a spirited drive without being uncomfortable. It’s an ideal, fun, urban runaround

As part of VW’s push to get more emotion into its range, the T-Roc is a fun car to drive. The steering is quick to react and responsive on the move, there’s plenty of grip on offer, while the chassis provides a good blend of control and comfort. 

Some of the more expensive models give you a chance to adjust various driving settings, including the ride comfort. In the top-spec 2.0-litre petrol with auto gearbox and four-wheel drive, we’d set the drive mode to Sport – the combination of engine, DSG gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive means acceleration can feel a little hesitant in normal mode.

There are also Eco and Comfort modes, but if you head for the Individual settings and adjust the gearbox, steering and throttle response to Sport mode while keeping the suspension in Comfort, you’ll come close to achieving the best of all worlds. 

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The Sport setting can leave you wincing a little over the worst jolts in the road (although that's made worse by optional 19-inch wheels), but Comfort is more pliant, while still keeping you in touch with the state of the surface. It’s a nice blend of luxury and control.

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Driving the T-Roc around town is both fun and easy – you can perfectly judge the four corners of the car, while visibility is good all-round. This is a car that’s easy to park, although you can order your car with self-parking technology, too.

Refinement is impressive, especially on the motorway. There is a bit of wind noise as the air gets pushed around the big door mirrors and slaps on the side windows, but it’s only really noticeable because everything else is so quiet. 

Engines

The 1.0 TSI turbo petrol engine is a little star and should work well in the T-Roc and T-Roc Cabriolet, while the 1.5 TSI Evo petrol offers perky performance and excellent refinement. The range-topping 2.0 TSI with either 190PS or 300PS ups the fun factor and there are two diesels if you want them.

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The 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol is the pick of the range as it's a great all-rounder. However, we’d recommend trying the 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine first – it’s a great little engine that works well if you're going to be using the T-Roc around town regularly without loading up on passengers or luggage, and even then it only feels a little strained. Volkswagen reckons that this engine will be the most popular option once sales get fully underway. 

The 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol offers warm hatch-rivalling performance, impressive refinement and decent economy considering the power on offer, while the hot 296bhp R version is not quite so well-rounded.

Although diesels are declining in popularity and will account for around 20 percent of sales – partly due to the excellence of new petrol engines – they’re still the best choice for high-mileage drivers. What's more, the 114bhp 1.6 and 148bhp 2.0 TDIs are proven elsewhere in the VW Groups cars. The 2.0 TDI especially is as solid as it is elsewhere in Volkswagen’s range, delivering a blend of gutsy diesel torque and acceptable refinement, only becoming a little harsh at higher revs.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI S 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £20,535

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 TDI SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £24,755

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 TSI R 4MOTION 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,740
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