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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 urban runaround

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£28,300 to £45,320
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As part of VW’s push to get more emotion into its range, the T-Roc is one of the more fun small SUVs from behind the wheel. 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. 

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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. 

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 found on the Style and R-Line models), 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.

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Refinement is impressive, especially on the motorway. Tyre noise is kept at bay, but 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. 

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

There are no hybrid or pure-electric versions of the T-Roc, but there are some excellent petrol and diesel powertrains on offer. 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 187bhp or 296bhp ups the fun factor and there are two diesels if you want them.

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 109bhp 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.

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 T-Roc R 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 and 148bhp 2.0 TDIs are proven elsewhere in the VW Group's line-up. They perform as solidly in the T-Roc as anywhere 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 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 Life 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,230
Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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