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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Sporty but comfortable
  • Roomier than a Golf
  • Stylish looks
  • Hard dash plastics
  • Prices are a bit steep
  • Best extras are optional
Representative Example - Personal Contract Purchase: Cash Price £10,000.00, Deposit £1500.00, borrowing £8,500.00 over 4 years at 7.4% Representative APR (fixed). 47 monthly payments of £132.04 followed by a final payment of £4127.50. Total cost of credit £1833.38. Total amount payable £11,833.38. Based on 8,000 miles per annum. Excess mileage charges apply if exceeded. Finance subject to status 18+ only.

As a relative latecomer to the compact SUV segment in 2017, you might wonder why it took so long for the VW T-Roc to arrive. The Golf-sized SUV is a strong contender in the class, as well as being a sales hit for VW, and one might have said ‘predictably so’.

That’s especially true as 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, although it was much needed given the list prices, which are close to premium.

About the Volkswagen T-Roc

The Volkswagen T-Roc is 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 affordable, and not to look like a boring old family hatchback. 

Like its very many 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, and you can get entry-level Life versions ranging on one hand to 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. Prices start from around £26,000 and climb to more than £41,000 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 108bhp 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...

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