Volkswagen T-Roc Review
The latest entry into the bustling small SUV sector is the Volkswagen T-Roc. It’s big on STYLE, practicality, performance and technology, but how will it fare against such strong opposition?
- Eye-catching design and available with four-wheel drive
- Good selection of engines, transmissions and trim levels
- One of the largest boots in class
- Quite expensive at the higher end of the range
- Too much hard plastic inside the cabin
- Competing against strong rivals
If you are going to launch a new car into the fiercely competitive small SUV sector it has to tick all the right boxes. It has to appeal to the budget-conscious looking for excellent value for money so must therefore rival the likes of the Kia Stonic and SEAT Arona. Then at the other end of the financial scale, it needs to offer all the bells and whistles to tempt potential buyers away from the Audi Q2. The VW T-Roc does just that.
With prices ranging from £18,950 to £31,485 there is a T-Roc to suit all tastes and budgets.
The car looks dynamic in its styling thanks to its athletic stance with rising waistline, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, black roof rails and black grained lower door protectors.
It also brings with it five-door practicality – another box ticked.
On the Road
When all versions of the T-Roc are available customers will be able to choose from trims called S, SE, Design, SEL and R-Line and all are generously equipped. The car is powered by a selection of five petrol engines or one diesel powertrain mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG automatic unit.
We tested the T-Roc SE 1.0 TSI 115PS with six-speed manual gearbox priced at £20,425. A few optional extras bumped up the asking price to £22,555.
The test car could sprint from 0- 62mph in 10.1 seconds, topped out at 116mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg with carbon emissions of 117g/km.
There was a time when the prospect of powering a car the size of the T-Roc with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine would have been unthinkable. But that’s not the case these days when the engineering and technology has advanced to such a level that the smaller engines can be punchy and full of firepower. And that is certainly relevant to the T-Roc which fizzes round town with sharp acceleration through the gears. Then when faced with the open road, the T-Roc has all the get up and go necessary. It can easily keep pace with fast-moving motorway traffic and the engine has enough bite to deliver short bursts of power when overtaking is necessary.
Ride & Handling
VW has a solid reputation of developing cars that are great to drive and the T-Roc is another fine example. The excellent suspension system irons out the most uneven road surfaces and the road-holding is assured and confident. There is a little body sway if driven too enthusiastically into a long sweeping bend, but generally the car is beautifully composed.
There is plenty of driver feedback from the precise steering and if you move up through the T-Roc range, the likes of a Driver Profile Select system is available which alters the steering and throttle responses.
But even on the SE grade, the T-Roc is a fabulous all-rounder that is just as comfortable in stop start traffic on the school run as it is eating up the motorway miles.
I particularly liked the fact that even the entry-level cars are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox rather than the five speeds on some rivals.
The T-Roc is available in a choice of bold exterior colours with lots of personalisation options thanks to the contrasting roof and B pillars shades. Step inside and once again, customers can stamp their own individual mark on the car with a good selection of interior colour schemes to select from. The test car featured seating upholstery in ‘Tracks 4’ cloth which sounds rather complicated but amounts to smart seats with neat patterns. This was complemented by dark oak brown inserts in the dashboard and door panels.
When it comes to cabin refinement on the move, the T-Roc excels. The three-pot petrol engine is powerful enough for day-to-day driving needs and rarely gets noisy around town. The volume does get a little elevated at higher speeds, but it actually adds to the car’s appeal as it feels and sounds sportier.
The six-speed manual gearbox is super slick and there is a gear shift prompter on the display screen which encourages early gear changes to maximise fuel efficiency.
On the downside, some of the materials feel a little cheap to the touch with too many hard plastic surfaces rather spoiling an otherwise beautifully crafted interior.
In the Car
Behind the Wheel
It’s simple to get comfortable inside the T-Roc with ample seat and steering wheel adjustment. The driver benefits from good forward visibility thanks to the slightly elevated seat and the slim windscreen pillars. The over-the-shoulder and rear screen visibility is not quite so impressive, but the test car did feature front and rear parking sensors, along with a reversing camera which helped considerably.
On-board techno treats are plentiful with the likes of full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a clear 8-inch colour touchscreen with DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connection with simultaneous pairing of two compatible devices, a six-speaker sound system, dual zone air conditioning, rain sensors with automatic wipers, dusk sensors with automatic headlights – all as standard.
The test car had a number of optional extras which saw the price jump from £20,425 to £22,555. These included a Discover Navigation infotainment system that introduced sat nav with points of interest highlighted as well as speed limits. It also includes a Security and Service function that provides continuous interaction between the driver, vehicle and VW which is handy for service reminders, breakdowns, emergency SOS call-outs and automatic accident notification.
There was also a Winter Pack costing £285 that added heated front seats, heated windscreen washer jets and a low washer fluid warning.
Space & Practicality
There are few cars the size of the T-Roc that are so spacious and flexible inside. It will accommodate drivers of all shapes and sizes thanks to the seat that will slide backwards or forwards or be adjusted up and down. The steering wheel also offers good adjustment. And thanks to the width of the car, it can actually accommodate three passengers in the back without too much of a squeeze. Admittedly the leg room in the rear is a little limited, but that is quite normal in smaller SUVs so it would be unfair to mark VW down on that count.
One area where the T-Roc excels is its boot space. It has a capacity that ranges from 445 litres to 1,290 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The square shape of the boot is also practical and there are alternative storage compartments throughout the car, including a glovebox, cup holders front and back, a non-slip tray in front of the gearstick, a central bin, pockets in the back of the front seats and a drawer under the driver’s seat.
The rear doors open nice and wide which means there are no access issues and there are Isofix fittings for child seats.
The test car carried a price-tag of £20,425, but as is often the case, optional extras can be added so owners can spec up their car to individual tastes and requirements. Our T-Roc ended up costing £22,555.
There is a cheaper model on sale in S trim level and this is priced from £18,950, but VW is confident the SE trim will prove the most popular accounting for as many as 40 per cent of sales. It also believes eight out of every 10 T-Roc models sold will be petrol driven with 75 per cent private buyers.
According to official EU test figures the T-Roc SE with its three-cylinder 1.0-litre 115PS petrol engine could deliver combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 117g/km. That would result in a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £160 for the first year which is reduced to £140 after that.
If you do have money to burn, then there are T-Roc models with 4WD and automatic gearboxes that will see the cost top the £30k-mark.
The insurance group rating for the test car is 11.
Quality & Reliability
Whilst it is too soon to say how reliable the T-Roc will be, VW has built a solid reputation for reliability over the years. There’s no denying the fact that the emissions scandal has taken its toll on the German marque, but the vehicles it produces do tend to survive the test of time.
All the parts, components and software in the T-Roc seemed sturdy and well put together. The doors close with a reassuring thud and there are no irritating whines, whistles or rattles whilst driving.
The cloth seats seem to be made from sturdy material and the hard plastic surfaces are practical despite being a little ugly.
The T-Roc is sold with a three year/60,000-mile warranty. This is the norm for most manufacturers these days, but if you are looking for longer warranties then Hyundai offers five years/unlimited mileage and Kia cars comes with the untouchable seven year/100,000-mile package.
Safety & Security
The VW T-Roc was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating offering many driver aids as standard.
The test car featured electronic stability control, traction control, numerous airbags, automatic hazard lights activation under emergency braking, a rigid safety cell with front and rear crumple zones and Isofix child seat fittings for the outer rear seats.
But it’s the impressive list of driver assist features that impresses with, as standard, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, front assist with city emergency braking, predictive pedestrian protection which brakes the car if the sensors detect a person in the road along with parking sensors. Many of these systems that contribute to preventing an accident from happening in the first place would be expensive add-ons to rival models.