20 December 2018

Volkswagen T-Roc 2018 Car Review

You’d think Volkswagen’s T-Roc would feel a tad underwhelming after you’ve hopped out of Volkswagen’s Touareg, as we did, but that wasn’t quite the case.

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Volkswagen T-Roc
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Volkswagen T-Roc
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Volkswagen T-Roc
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Volkswagen T-Roc
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Volkswagen T-Roc
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Volkswagen T-Roc

Sure, it’s smaller – more jacked-up hatch than potentially serious off-roader – and yes, it doesn’t have the fancy wide-screen and the same array of tech, but then it’s also priced considerably lower.

What it does have, quite apart from this eyeball-searing ‘Turmeric Yellow’ colour and options that allow a $750 contrast roof, is a an irreverent persona in a smart skin with a city-friendly footprint and a useable cabin.

Given SUVs are now all the rage and seem to take the lion’s share of the new-car market, it’s no surprise that a model in every size bracket is de rigeur for any brand wishing to maintain and build market share. T-Roc’s arrival in limited numbers back in October gave VW a full hand of ‘SUV’ models, with this car slotting beneath Tiguan and Touareg and delivering a sharper, younger look into the bargain.

Those numbers are limited only because the car is so far only available in the top-spec R-Line trim, with features and specification balanced to match those sharp lines. So it’s fitted with an interactive digital dashboard that lets you choose how you want your instrument array to look, quite apart from accessing infotainment and the likes via the eight-inch touchscreen, and a generous array of safety spec designed with city slickers in mind – hence the likes of rear traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and traffic-jam assist.

It also packs a fair punch under the bonnet, courtesy this delightfully flexible 2.0-litre turbo, which throws its torque down across a wide spread of revs, handing over almost directly to peak power at a whisker over 4000rpm, and coming on strong for another 2000rpm. It feels mean and keen in pretty much any gear, a unit well matched to all-wheel drive and what’s billed as sports suspension.

That package did prove sure-footed over tight and hilly country swervery, if a whisker light out back if one gets a little too Petter Solberg, yet we weren’t aware of serious comfort compromises, no doubt  a combo delivered a nod to buyers likely to pack a couple of kiddy-winks aboard.

T-Roc is nominally an SUV, and the drive-mode selector includes an off-road setting which no doubt will prove useful on loose gravel or slippy skifield roads, but the ground clearance has been set to suit sporting aspirations rather than anything even remotely resembling genuinely off-road going. Think funked-up sporting Golf with attitude and handy agility on wet and icy surfaces, and you’ll be closer to the mark.

Literally – for it’s based on the same platform, albeit also matched to the same all-wheel-drive as fitted to Audi’s Q2

T-Roc looks fabulous in a sharp-edged way, especially in this eye-catching hue, and that engine is a delight, whether you’re hustling it or cruising, traversing tarmac or perhaps something a little less grippy. And it’s practical enough for its size, too.

Sure, one might quibble with the quality of some of the cabin materials at this price, we bet ski bunnies will long for heated seats, and manual-adjust pews seems a little cut-price for a hero car priced at over 50K – if one assumes the R-Line to be a stand-alone model. However, those tempted but unable to stretch to this price should consider waiting – the 100 arriving initially are all at British spec, and we expect entry models, a choice of engines and two- or all-wheel-drive formats to arrive in due course, albeit with a more modest set of features.

Meantime buyers also interested in BMW’s X2, Volvo’s excellent XC40 or the Jaguar E-Pace at least have a slightly more modestly-priced alternative to consider.

At a glance


Volkswagen T-Roc


1984cc turbo petrol



ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

140kW from 4200rpm to 6000rpm, 320Nm from 1500rpm to 4177rpm


Seven speed Tiptronic

Fuel economy


Towing capacity



AWD 4Motion

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

392  litres (all seats in use), 1237 litres with row two folded

Safety systems

  • Front autonomous emergency brake and forward collision warning
  • Adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Driver fatigue detection
  • Pedestrian monitoring
  • Side assist including Lane Assist
  • Rear traffic alert
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
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